« ElőzőTovább »
Southern Railroad, containing an investigation into the cost of trans
portation on American railroads,' which is a model of patient accuracy of detail. Each of the above reports is, indeed, drawn up on the usual basis of the “train-mile.' But each writer admits the inaccuracy of that basis, and affords the means of reducing his calculations to the true unit of the ton-mile. From the publications of the Institution of Civil Engineers we learn that experiments have recently been made in America on the resistance of railway trains (by means of a new scientific instrument called the dynograph), the result of which has been that the speed of the heavy trains is now being increased, in order to save expense. From travellers in France and Belgium we have instructive accounts of the lucrative activity of the internal navigation of the former country, contrasted with the stagnation produced by government interference in the latter. Finally, we have seen the best Walls' End coal quoted in the Thames at less than 16s. per ton; a fact which shows that the railway companies are now competing with a rate of freight not exceeding 4s. per ton for from 250 to 300 miles of sea-carriage.
Under these circumstances we think it right to call attention to a small pamphlet recently published by Mr. William Fleming under the title of The Index to our Railway System and our Leading Lines.' Mr. Fleming has submitted the Railway Returns,' published by the Board of Trade, to an exhaustive analysis, the results of which he has presented to the eye in two large tables. One of them gives the details of our railway system, taking England, Scotland, and Ireland apart and in mass. The other gives somewhat similar details as to twenty of the most important railways. Although we cannot admit that everything relating to railways in general, and individual lines in ' particular, as property and means of investing money, can be learned by a consideration and comparison of the facts which these tables
contain,' we only except to the remark on ground which has been taken by Mr. Fleming himself, when he says, " It is rather humiliating
that, after fifty years' experience of railways, we have no data of, or ' hardly even the means of approximating, the intrinsic loss and gain
per passenger and per ton of goods per mile.' The following facts, which come out from Mr. Fleming's figures, demand very careful attention.
During 1875 the expenditure of 20 million sterling on the railways of the United Kingdom has added only 14 per cent. to their length, but 3.33 per cent. to their cost, the additional cost of the English lines being nearly 10001. per mile. The increase of the gross receipts on the English lines has barely exceeded half the average yearly increase between 1871 and 1874. The expansion of traffic has not kept pace
with the expenditure of capital; and the relative decrease of expendi“ture (due to fall in price of coal and wages) merely leaves them to 'gain the same profit as in 1874.' The tonnage of minerals is
greater in every instance, except the Great Northern ; but the lines of least 'mineral traffic show the highest earnings per train-mile.' 'As the 'growth of traffic on the goods lines is not keeping pace with the expenditure of capital, and, notwithstanding the general decrease of
working charges, are not equal in their profits to former gains, it shows " that lower dividends are inevitable.'
Thus far Mr. Fleming draws his own inferences. We have only to add a word as to certain results to be derived by a comparative analysis from some of his figures, which throw much light on the question for the solution of which, by direct analysis, the railway companies refuse the materials.
The contention against the carriage of minerals by railways is twofold: first, it is alleged to be unremunerative; secondly, it is said to be the main cause of collisions. Definite figures are attainable from Mr. Fleming's tables which illustrate each of these propositions.
First, it is certain that the proportionate cost of working charges, including maintenance, locomotion, and repairs, increases with the increase of the proportion borne by receipts from mineral traffic to gross receipts. Thus, the Metropolitan Railway has only 2-3 per cent. of mineral traffic. Its working expenses, as above defined, amount to 15 per cent. of its gross revenue. The South Eastern Railway has 3.8 per cent. of mineral traffic. Its working expenses amount to 21 per cent. of revenue. The Brighton has 7 per cent. of mineral traffic; working expenses 24.5 per cent. The London and North Western has 21 per cent. of mineral traffic. The working expenses come to 28.7 per cent. of revenue. The Midland has 275 per cent. of mineral traffic. The working expenses amount to 29 per cent of revenue. The North Eastern has 37 per cent. of mineral traffic. The working expenses amount to 35.5 per cent. of revenue. Roughly speaking, for every additional 1 per cent. of revenue derived from mineral traffic, the working expenses are increased by an amount equal to one-half per cent, of gross revenue. The incidence of other expenses is less regular. The Government duty, of course, diminishes as passenger traffic declines. But traffic charges, which form a considerable item of general expenditure, rise from 11 per cent. on the Metropolitan, and 12.9 per cent. on the South Eastern, to 17.9 per cent. on the Midland. It is thus evident that the increment of mineral traffic is attended by a more than equivalent increment of working cost.
The direct effect on dividend of the class of traffic encouraged by the managers of railways, and of the cost, in capital and in working expenses, incurred for the service of such traffic, is strikingly illustrated by the contrast presented by the experience of four years on the South Eastern, and on the Midland, railways. In 1871 the Midland had a larger traffic per mile than the South Eastern, the figures being 4,5801. for the former, and 4,3221. for the latter railway. The capital expended per mile on the South Eastern was 59,9002.; that on the Midland, 42,1611. The proportion of net traffic receipts to capital was 3.91 per cent. on the Southern Line, 5.91 per cent. on the Northern. By 1875 the gross traffic of the South Eastern had increased by 251 per cent.; or to 5,416l. per mile. The capital cost per mile had increased about 2 per cent., or to 61,4351. The mineral traffic had proportionately decreased ; the proportions of mineral to total gross revenue being 4:15 per cent. in 1877, and 3.76 per cent. in 1875. The consequence of this change was the rise of the proportion borne by
net revenue to capital, from 3.91 to 4:52 per cent.; which is an improvement of the value of the property by 16 per cent.
On the Midland the traffic revenue was increased, during the period in question, by nearly 13 per cent., or from 4,5801. to 5,1591. per mile. The large proportion which mineral traffic bore in this increase is shown by the fact that the proportion of mineral gross revenue was 23.24 per cent. of total gross revenue in 1871, and 27.75 per cent. in 1875; an increase of nearly 20 per cent. The capital account had been coincidently increased by nearly 12 per cent. ; or from 42,1611. to 47,8041. per mile. The consequence was the reduction on the proportion borne by net traffic earnings to capital from 5.91 to 5.05 per cent., involving a deterioration of the property by more than 141 per cent., a depreciation which has to be contrasted with the increase of 16 per cent. in the value of the South Eastern line. There has thus been occasioned, within four years, a difference of proprietary value between the non-mineral and the mineral lines cited, amounting to more than 30 per cent.
The statistical comparison of the number of train accidents with the proportion of mineral traffic has no less instructive results. Thus, on the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan District lines, where the mineral traffic earns less than 3 per cent. of the gross revenue, and where the interference of mineral trains with passenger traffic is at a minimum, more than 3,000,000 of passengers per mile are conveyed in a year; and the ratio of train accidents has been only one to every 17,000,000 of passengers. On the
South Eastern and Brighton lines the mineral traffic averages only 5 per cent. The passenger traffic amounts to upwards of 70,000 passengers per mile per annum. The train accidents have averaged one to 4:8 millions of passengers.
On the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway the passenger traffic is about 79,000 passengers per mile per annum, or 12 per cent. more than on the last-named pair of lines. The mineral traffic, however, forms nearly 18 per cent. of the whole revenue, being thus three times as great in proportion as on the South Eastern and Brighton lines. The train accidents in 1875 (which was rather a favourable year than otherwise) were one to every 1.73 millions of passengers; thus increasing on the accident rate of the last quoted pair of lines at a rate slightly in excess of the increase of the proportion of mineral traffic.
On the Midland and North Eastern lines, where the mineral traffic averages
per cent. of the gross revenue, the rate of accident expectation is slightly less than on the Lancashire and Yorkshire, being one in 1.82 million passengers carried. But this comparatively low rate is at once explained by observing the small number of passengers per mile actually carried by these lines, which only averages 22,500, or less than one-third of those carried by the Lancashire and Yorkshire. Thus, while the mineral traffic approached the double of that carried by the former line, there was only about one-third of the amount of passenger traffic with which it could interfere. The results were approximately much the same.
It thus appears that while an enormous amount of passenger traffic, unmixed with any other, may be conveyed with a very high degree of safety, collision and fatal accident dog the wheels of the mineral trains with a certitude measured by the extent to which this unremunerative traffic interferes with the conduct of the passenger trains.
Any words at our command would only impair the effect of the mute eloquence of these facts.
to the Article on · Brigandage in Sicily,' p. 505.
On the eve of going to press we receive the annual report of Signor Mangano Pulvirenti, acting public prosecutor at Palermo, on the results of the administration of justice within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal of Palermo in 1876. The whole population of the island of Sicily is about two millions and a half: that of the province of Palermo about 600,000. In 1876, 17,042 persons were tried, 7,481 for crimes, and 9,561 for misdemeanours. The number of murders and murderous assaults followed by death was 662, of which 267 were assassinations, besides 666 murderous assaults not followed by death, 27 extortions by threats, 31 carrying off of persons. The whole number of convictions was 13 to death, penal servitude for life 61, penal servitude for a shorter term 290, imprisonment 415, besides some minor punishment. In 6,217 cases the prosecution was abandoned for want of proof to convict. The total number of accused persons who got off without punishment was 10,490. Meanwhile the regular bands of Leone, Nobile, Merlo, and Calabrese infest the island with the utmost audacity, and the number of accomplices who escape justice and are condemned in contumacy 'sono rappresentati da enorme cifre !'
These official statements bear out every thing we have said in this article. We doubt if such a disgraceful record of unpunished crime was ever laid before the world.
No. CCXCIX. will be published in July,