Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/242

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232
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.


whose political integrity is precarious; and we have, in the degree to which additional defensive resources are needed, the first element of individualization according to geographical conditions.

The shape and extension, though the most obvious, constitute only one of the features in which the railroad system is affected by geographical conditions. Regarding the lines in the mercantile aspect, we find that the relative importance of their freight and passenger traffic is likewise subject to such influences. While in Germany freight is the all-important element in estimating the value of the business done by the railroads, and it would be thought folly to depend chiefly on the receipts from passengers, this is not the case in all countries. Herr von Weber gives a table of the relative value of the passenger and freight business of six countries, from which the results are deduced that in Austria it is as 1 to 4; in Russia, as 1 to 3.2; in Prussia, as 1 to 2.7 ; in England, as 1 to 1.3; in Italy, as 1 to 0.9; and in Denmark, as 1 to 0.5. In the first three countries here named, the excess is very largely in favor of the freight traffic; in England, the values of the two kinds are more nearly equal, while in Italy and Denmark the excess is on the side of the passenger traffic. The first three countries are continental, the last three are maritime. Where there are abundant water-ways to compete with the railroads, the freight, which seeks the easiest routes, goes to them, and the railroads have to rely more largely upon passengers; where water-ways are more rare, as on the great Continental plains, the freight is of necessity carried on the railroads, and they find in it the source of their most lucrative business, by the side of which the passenger traffic may sink into relative insignificance.

With equal acumen Herr von Weber has remarked a differentiation in conformity to geographical diversities in the means and apparatus which railroads employ in the performance of their work. At first sight it would appear that the wagons in which the goods are carried, which to-day are found on the Atlantic coast and in a few days more are removed to the borders of Asia, which in going scale Alpine ridges, and are before long to be returned to the ocean on routes passing through and under the mountains by tunnels, should be of uniform construction. Herr von Weber divides the equipment and appurtenances of a railway line into two groups, the first of which includes those articles that are stationary or which circulate only within a limited area, and the second those that are liable to be moved over the whole circuit of an extensive and complicated system. To the former class, of fixed elements, he assigns the road-bed and superstructure and all their accessories; to the other class, or that of movable properties, belong the wagons. Between the two classes are the locomotives, which only rarely go outside of the particular system to which they belong. “While the fixed organs,” he says, “answer their purposes the more completely the more exactly they are adapted in indi-