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on the several classes of expenditure for a series of years :
Per cent. 1. Locomotive power...
30 2. Traffic expenses
28 3. Maintenance of way and works, &c. ...
18 4. Miscellaneous charges, general, legal, and
Parliamentary; rates and taxes, &c. 14 5. Repairs and renewals of carriages and waggons, &c.
9 6. Compensation for personal injuries, &c.
From these statistics it will easily be gathered how far the Companies have a direct pecuniary interest in keeping their lines safe. The amount paid in compensation for accidents exceeds but very little a half per cent on their gross receipts: to this, of course, must be added something for injury to the lines and rolling stock caused by accidents, but no data are available for the calculation of the amount.
It thus appears that the pecuniary loss to Companies caused by accidents is almost infinitesimal, but the cost that must be incurred by them in order to provide many of the necessary means of safety represents by no means an inconsiderable outlay. But if the Companies refuse to face the matter boldly on public grounds, and in the interests of the travelling public, such alterations as may be necessary in the present control over the Companies must be given to the Board of Trade, or other Government department, by special legislative enactment. The Companies have been repeatedly warned, and they have as often neglected the admonitions addressed to them. The question now, therefore, rests with the public, and they will assuredly now speak out, in their own interests, in a manner that cannot fail to command respect from the most unimpressible Boards of Directors. The subject has been taken up by the scientific press, whence it will, in due course, be introduced to the public by the daily press; and the ball, having been once started, will certainly not cease to roll until the public have secured for themselves such immunity from accident on railways as can be afforded by the forced adoption of any known means of precaution or mechanical application.
From the Reports by former Commissions, and by the Board of Trade Inspectors, it is manifest that a deficiency of break-power is one not of the least important causes at present responsible for accidents to passenger-trains. It is true that the speed of railway travelling has not increased sensibly within the last thirty years, but the conditions of train-service have materially altered within that period, and they are, by the effect of natural causes, continually changing in a manner which demands constant attention and the application of such means for facilitating traffic as may from time to time be devised for that purpose ; for instance, the trains are more frequent and following each other more closely than before, block signal-stations are necessarily brought nearer together, whilst at the same time the weight of trains, consequent upon improved and more capacious carriages, and the increased number of passengers, necessarily attain a greater amount of vis viva, demanding the exercise of greater force in order to bring them to a stop even within the same distance as was formerly the case. The old-fashioned hand-screw breaks—which ought to have been abolished some years ago on all passenger-traffic lines of railway—are, viewed with the light of improvements which modern science has introduced, at best both clumsy and make-shift appliances for the purposes to which they are applied ; and it was stated in evidence taken by the Royal Commission that the break-power at present generally applied is insufficient to stop a train within the distance generally existing between the distant signal and the home signal of a station. In the case of heavy trains, running at a speed of from 35 to 40 miles an hour, the ordinary screw breaks are insufficient to bring them to a stand under half a mile, and when travelling at a higher speed under 1100 or 1200 yards, whilst heavy fast express trains cannot-with the ordinary break-power—be pulled up in many cases under a mile and a quarter.
Besides the inefficiency of the power of ordinary screw breaks, another important objection to their use is the time required to bring them into action. The necessity for promptness of action in pulling up a train will be at once realised when it is remembered that in one second a train travelling at 60 miles an hour passes over 88 feet; at 45 miles an hour, over 66 feet; and at 30 miles an hour, over 44 feet. A train travels, that is to say, 100 yards--at 60 miles an hour, in 34 seconds; at 45 miles an hour, in 4:6 seconds; and at 30 miles an hour, in 6.8 seconds.
It has been stated, by one of the Board of Trade Inspectors, that if the continuous break system could be
adopted it would be one of the most fruitful sources of saving collisions; and he further remarked that out of eighty-one accidents into which he enquired in one year, had continuous breaks been able to have been worked by the engine-drivers, at least in thirty-five cases the accident would have been mitigated, if not prevented altogether. The Royal Commission, in their recent Report, remark“Accidents of the nature of collisions are generally the result of several contributory causes, but the amount of available break-power is obviously a matter of the greatest importance as a means of preventing them and of modifying their consequences. Our own enquiries confirmed the impressions which the Inspecting Officers' investigations of accidents led us to form, that not only was there generally an insufficiency of controlling power in trains, but also that the distance within which a train running at high speed could be stopped by the break-power ordinarily in use was not ascertained with any approach to accuracy." Consequently the Commissioners applied to the Railway Companies to institute a definite series of experiments, to test the amount of control given by the break-power ordinarily applied to their trains, and the effect of various systems of improved or continuous breaks. From the experiments carried out for this purpose it appeared that the amount of hand break-power usually supplied with the trains of the respective Companies failed to bring up the London and North-Western train within 2374 feet, that of the Caledonian Company within 3190 feet, that of the Midland within 3250 feet, that of the Great Northern within 3576 feet, and that of the Brighton within 3690 feet, the speed of the trains varying from 451 to 48} miles per hour. It must, however, be borne in mind that the trains with which these experiments were made were in the most complete order, and the guards and drivers had notice of the exact spot at which the signal to stop would be given. A large addition must therefore be made to those distances in practice, and unless much greater control is obtained over trains by additional break-power the Commissioners consider that to ensure safety the distant signals must be, for a level line, carried back to the distance of a mile. From the experiments made with continuous breaks, however, it is evident that there
are ample means of controlling trains within much less distance by some of the various systems already in use.
Besides an improvement in break-power, it is also necessary that—whatever improvement upon the present system be adopted—a large proportion of the available break-power should be under the control of the driver, who is generally the first to become aware of apprehended danger.
No matter how small the interval of time required for the driver to attract the attention of the guard, it may be of vital moment.
On this subject Capt. Tyler observed, in a paper recently read by him before the Society of Arts,—“ When an accident occurs in which a carriage leaves the rails from failure in any portion of a train, it may be of great, and even vital, importance immediately to reduce the momentum of every part of it; and every extra second expended before this action is commenced may be a question of life and death." It will readily be understood how the safety of a train is increased by having the break-power under the control of the engine driver as well as of the guard. In the case of a signal failing to work and to show sign of danger, the engine-driver will naturally, if an obstruction exists on the line, be the first to discover it; and, supposing the break not to be under his control, he must intimate danger to the guard by whistle, in the ordinary manner ; but all this takes time, and between the interval of the driver's signal and the application of the break by the guard two or three seconds must inevitably elapse, during which interval the train has probably approached not less than 100 yards nearer to the impending danger, or nearer to fatal results. An instance in point has been given by Capt. Tyler, who, in the paper above referred to, cited an accident which occurred last November, near Wincanton, on the Somerset and Dorset Railway. In that case an up-passenger train for Bath was travelling at a speed of 35 miles an hour, when the leading wheels of the engine left the rails, from a defect in the permanent way. The engine ran thus for 200 yards before the driving wheels left the rails, but it then turned over on its side, 240 yards from the point of first disturbance. The engine-driver was killed, and the fireman and guard, who narrowly escaped with their lives, were severely injured. If, says Capt. Tyler, the engine-driver had been able at once to apply a continuous break throughout this train, on finding his leading wheels off the rails, it might have been pulled up with scarcely any damage to the rolling stock, and no injury to himself or any one else.
The same officer remarked, in his Report for 1872, referring to the great Railway Companies, -"It is mainly because sufficient attention has not been paid in past years to the various means of safety that the greatest Railway Companies of England appear so unfavourably at the head of the accident list.” “The 238 train-accidents which occurred this year were all more or less of a preventable character. The means of prevention are well known, and have sufficiently often been urged, as well in individual as in general reports." Why these means of prevention have not hitherto been enforced upon the Companies is, that although it has been the practice of the Railway Department of the Board of Trade to urge upon Companies, by way of advice, the adoption of measures from time to time, as tending to diminish the risk of danger, they have no power of compelling the Companies to adopt them against the advice of their own officers.
In recent years no doubt many improvements have been introduced in the working of railways, in view to insuring increased security for passengers, all of which have necessarily been attended by increase of expenditure on the part of the Companies. So far as can at present be ascertained the prevailing weakness in our railway system just now is a want of efficient break-power; not that efficient breaks do not exist, but that the Railway Companies have hesitated too long to adopt them. The Royal Commission recommends that Railway Companies "should be required by Law to provide every train with sufficient break-power to stop it absolutely within 500 yards, at the highest speed upon which it travels, and upon any gradient on the line.” This breakpower, they further explain, should be sufficient to stop trains within 500 yards “under all circumstances," and Mr. Galt-one of the Commissioners—further explained, in a separate Report, that “the break-power that brings to a stand both portions of a train in case of its being divided by an accident is certainly the only kind thoroughly effective."
It is clear that nothing but a continuous break will satisfy the necessities of safety for railway travelling, as is shown by the evidences above referred to. There are many kinds of continuous breaks, however, and they have not all the same powers or properties, and in considering which is really the most efficient several considerations must be taken into account. On this subject Capt. Tyler has laid it down that a break should possess the following properties in order to render it thoroughly efficient, and safe under all but the most exceptional circumstances, against which, of course, no human ingenuity could devise adequate safeguards. A break, then, should beI. Simple and easy of control, especially by engine
drivers, but also by guards of trains.