1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Railways
RAILWAYS (see 22.819; also Light Railways, Military).—United Kingdom.—In 1910 British railways had reached a high standard of completeness and development, and, although a number of new lines were subsequently brought into use, two only are of primary importance in regard to through main-line traffic. One of these is the first section of the Enfield-Stevenage line of the Great Northern railway, opened for traffic as far as Cuffley on April 4 1910. On the same date the Ashenden-Aynho line of the Great Western railway was brought into use for goods traffic. The former was part of a new line designed to afford an alternative route into London avoiding duplication of the Welwyn Viaduct and, by adopting a new route, opening up a new district near London for suburban development. From 1916 onwards the northern portion was laid with a single line and used for goods traffic, and towards the end of 1920 a second track was laid. In June 1921 this section had not yet been opened for passenger traffic, but was already being largely used for goods and mineral trains. The Ashenden-Aynho line was, however, on July 1 1910, brought into regular use as part of a shortened main route between London and Birmingham, and a two-hourly schedule then came into force for the principal Great Western expresses.
Among other important new lines brought into use the following may be mentioned: June 1 1910, Filton Junction and Avonmouth Docks, and the Camerton and Limpley Stoke lines, G.W.R.; Armagh, Keady & Castleblaney railway, worked by G.N.R. (I.), completed December 1 1910; April 13 1911, Shropshire & Montgomeryshire light railway; May 12 1911, Lampeter and Aberayron line, G.W.R.; May 1 1912, Goole and Selby line, N.E.R.; June 3 1912, Dearne Valley railway (worked by L. & Y.R.); June 16 1913, Mansfield railway opened for goods traffic, and on April 2 1917 for passenger traffic (worked by G.C.R.); and July 1 1913, Kirkstead and Little Steeping Line, G.N.R. On July 1 1912 the London & North-Western railway brought into use a part of the “Watford new lines,” and the branch to Croxley Green, the remainder being opened on Feb. 17 1913. On June 2 1913 the Great Western railway opened part of the remarkable series of lines designed to improve railway communication in South Wales and referred to generally as the Swansea District lines. Other sections were added at various later dates. On Sept. 26 1915 the North British railway brought into use a series of new lines in the Edinburgh district, designed mainly to facilitate mineral traffic working, known as the New Lothian lines. On May 22 1916 the Great Central railway opened the Keadby deviation line, including a new bridge over the Trent with a Scherzer rolling-lift bridge of 200 ft. span, in July 1915 a section of the old Ravenglass and Eskdale railway in Cumberland was reopened on the 15-inch gauge, using locomotives of model or “exhibition” types, but catering to public passenger and goods traffic. Extensive reconstruction works at Waterloo, L. & S.W.R., were nearing completion in 1921.
Electric Railway Extensions and New Lines.—On July 27 1912 the Central London railway was extended to Liverpool Street. On December 1 1913 the “Bakerloo” section of the London Electric railway was extended to Paddington, and on February 11 1915 to Queen's Park, there connecting with the L. & N.W.R. On April 6 1914 the loop under the river at Charing Cross on the “Hampstead” section of the London Electric railway was brought into use. On May 31 1915 the four-track section, from Finchley Road to Harrow, of the Metropolitan railway was completed over Kilburn Viaduct. On Aug. 3 1920 the Ealing and Shepherd's Bush railway, connecting the Central London railway at Wood Lane with the G.W.R. at Ealing Broadway, was completed and opened for traffic.
Railway Electrification (see also Electrical Engineering).—Equipment of existing railways for electric working has been considerably extended. On May 12 1911 the L.B. & S.C.R. commenced to work electric trains between Victoria and the Crystal Palace. On March 1 1912 the London Bridge routes via Tulse Hill were added, the complete electric service becoming operative on June 1 1912. Since that date equipment of various other routes has been in hand but owing to interruption of the war no further sections are yet electrically operated. On the London & South-Western railway electric traction was inaugurated between Waterloo and Wimbledon, via East Putney, on Oct. 25 1915; on the Kingston “Roundabout” route Jan. 30 1916; on the Hounslow loop March 12 1916; to Hampton Court June 15 1916; and to Claygate Nov. 20 1916. Electric working on the North London and L. & N.W. railways was commenced between Willesden Junction and Earl's Court on May 1 1914, and between Broad Street and Richmond and Kew Bridge on Oct. 1 1916. On May 10 1915 the London Electric railway commenced to work through to Willesden Junction via Queen's Park, and from April 18 1917 this service was continued to Watford over the “Watford New Lines,” though it was not until 1920 that the L. & N.W.R. was able to take its share in the working of this service, as the specially constructed joint rolling stock began to be delivered after the war from the makers. During 1919 L. & N.W.R. electric trains began to work from Broad Street to Watford via Hampstead Heath. Work was in 1921 well advanced upon the new “tube” tunnel under Primrose Hill and the entire reconstruction of L. & N.W.R. lines at Chalk Farm to enable “flying” or “burrowing” connexions to be made between the Eustpn and Broad Street routes and between the three sets of running lines, but electric operation could not be inaugurated via Chalk Farm and from Euston until this was sufficiently completed. On March 31 1912 Metropolitan railway electric trains commenced to work over the East London railway between Shoreditch and the two New Cross stations, with through trains, via Aldgate East, to and from Hammersmith. Principal developments in regard to electric traction in the provinces are the electrification in 1916 of the Newport-Shildon section of the North-Eastern railway to enable heavy mineral traffic to be operated by electric instead of steam locomotives, and of the L. & Y.R. route from Manchester (Victoria) to Bury, via Prestwich, in Feb. 1916, following the experimental high-tension electrification between Bury and Holcombe Brook which had been used from July 1913.
Mention may also be made of the installation in 1911 of escalators at Earl's Court, connecting the “Piccadilly” section of the London Electric railway with the Metropolitan District station above. Escalators were also provided at Liverpool Street on the opening of the Central London railway extension in July 1912, since which date these have been systematically adopted at all new tube railway stations. They have also been introduced at several existing stations, as at Oxford Circus, London Electric railway, and on the L. & S.W.R. at Waterloo to connect the Waterloo and City station with the terminus above.
Dock Improvements.—Principal developments in regard to dock and similar facilities affecting railways are the opening of Immingham Dock, G.C.R. (by the King and Queen) on July 22 1912; of the new Methil Docks, N.B.R., on Jan. 22 1913; of the King George Dock at Hull, H. & B. and N.E. railways (by the King and Queen) on June 26 1914; and the opening of a new lock entrance, designed to enable the largest vessels to enter at all states of the tide, at Newport, Alexandra Docks & Railway, on July 14 1914.
New Locomotive Works.—During 1910 and 1911 the new locomotive works at Eastleigh of the L. & S.W.R. were brought into use, and the old works at Nine Elms dismantled and the area thus cleared handed over to the Goods Department. The Great Eastern railway added several new workshops to the rolling-stock plant at Stratford in 1914-6.
Signalling.—Automatic and power signalling had already become well established in 1910, but only a limited amount of further development can be recorded. In Jan. 1911 two-position upper-quadrant electric signals were introduced on the Metropolitan railway, and have since been adopted where semaphores are retained on the “Underground” sections. On the Keadby deviation line of the G.C.R., already mentioned, three-position upper-quadrant signals have been in use since May 1916, while the Ealing & Shepherd's Bush railway is the first line in the United Kingdom to be opened with all signals of this type. In Jan. 1920 a complete power signalling installation on three-position upper-quadrant principles was brought into use at Victoria, S.E. & C.R.
Express-Train Running.—During the years 19104 express passenger-train facilities reached their highest level, and the timetables arranged for the summer of 1914 showed the following numbers of non-stop runs of 100 m. or more: Caledonian railway 10 runs, the three longest being between Carlisle and Perth, 150¾ m.; Great Eastern railway 7 runs, the two longest being of 131 m. between Liverpool Street and North Walsham; Great Northern railway 29 runs, the longest being from Wakefield to King's Cross, 175¾ m.; Great Central railway 6 runs, the longest being from London to Sheffield, 164¾ m.; Great Western railway 40 runs, the longest from Paddington to Plymouth (North Road), 225¾ m.; London & South-Western railway 4 runs, three of which were operated between Waterloo and Bournemouth (Central), 108 m.; London & North-Western railway 74 runs, the longest being between Euston and Rhyl, 209¼ m.; Midland railway 25 runs, the longest from St. Pancras to Shipley (a stop to change engines only, not advertised) 206 m.; North-Eastern railway 14 runs, all between Newcastle and Edinburgh, working through over N.B.R. north of Berwick, 124½ m. Average speeds for the best of these runs were respectively: C.R. 49.7; G.E.R. 49.7; G.N.R. 57; G.C.R. 55.85; G.W.R. 54.8; L. & S.W.R. 54; L. & N.W.R. 52.7; M.R. 50.86; and N.E.R. 54.1 m.p.h. On several of these lines, however, trains making somewhat shorter runs provided even higher averages. The following non-stop runs exceeding 55 m.p.h. may be noted:—
|N.E.R.||Darlington to York||44½||43||61.7|
|G.C.R.||Leicester to Arkwright St., Nottingham||22½||22||61.3|
|L. & S.W.R.||Dorchester to Wareham||15||15||60|
|G.W.R.||Paddington to Bristol||118½||120||59.2|
|L. & N.W.R.||Willesden to Coventry||88½||92||57.7|
|G.N.R.||Grantham to King's Cross||105½||110||57.5|
|C.R.||Forfar to Perth||32½||34||57.2|
|M.R.||St. Pancras to Kettering||72||76||56.8|
|G.E.R.||Halesworth to Woodbridge||21¾||23||56.6|
|C.L.C.||Manchester to West Derby||31¼||34||55.1|
It may be remarked that the short L. & S.W.R. run mentioned was due to an error in time-table compilation, but was worked to for some time. The S.E. & C.R., L. & Y.R., and G. & S.W.R. had runs exceeding 54 m.p.h., while the Great Southern & Western and the Great Northern railways in Ireland, the L.B. & S.C.R., the London, Tilbury & Southend section of the Midland railway, and the Hull & Barnsley railway also had runs averaging 50 m.p.h. or over.
Many of the runs mentioned had been operated for several years before the outbreak of war in 1914, but in two cases at least, the highest level was reached between 1910 and 1914. Thus, on the Great Western railway, the opening of the Ashenden-Aynho line, shortening the distance between London and Birmingham to 110½ m., provided four down non-stop trains in the even two hours. These conveyed from one to three slip coaches, detached at Banbury, Leamington or Knowle, but the over-all time of two hours was also given to several up trains, though these had to include stops at Leamington or Banbury or both. On the London & North-Western railway a number of London-Birmingham trains were similarly accelerated to 120 minutes for the distance of 113 miles. On the London & South-Western railway two hours became the standard for Waterloo-Bournemouth non-stop trains as from July 3 1911.
Train Service Developments.—The following developments in train service facilities may be noted. On Feb. 1 1910 the L. & N.W.R. introduced “city-to-city” expresses between Wolverhampton and Birmingham and Broad Street. A novelty on these trains was the provision of a typewriting compartment, in charge of a qualified stenographer. In the following May similar arrangements were introduced on certain Birmingham-Euston expresses. In July 1910 restaurant cars were introduced on through trains between Manchester, Birkenhead and Bournemouth, L. & N.W., G.W., and L. & S.W. railways. In July 1910 certain Midland Anglo-Scottish expresses were diverted to run over the L. & N.W.R. between Penrith and Carlisle. At the same time several Caledonian expresses to and from Aberdeen began to use Glasgow Central Station instead of Buchanan Street. In Oct. 1910 the G.W.R. introduced through trains via the Ashenden-Aynho line between Wolverhampton and Victoria, S.E. & C.R. In July 1910 the L. & S.W.R. improved their Southampton-Havre route to the European Continent. In May 1911 the S.E. & C.R. Continental service from Queenborough to Flushing was transferred to Folkestone. On June 1 1911 tea cars were introduced on the afternoon expresses between London and Manchester and Liverpool, L. & N.W.R. From July 3 1911 through carriages forming parts of S.E. & C.R. Kent Coast and other expresses were run to and from King's Cross, G.N.R. On the same date the N.E.R. introduced hourly expresses between Newcastle, Sunderland, West Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough. In March 1910 Metropolitan District trains commenced to work through over the Metropolitan railway to Uxbridge, and in June of the same year through trains between Ealing and Southend were added. In July 1913 the G.W.R. introduced the “Devon and Cornwall Special” express (third class only) between London and the West of England.
Pullman Cars.—Hitherto used only on the L.B. & S.C.R., on March 21 1910 Pullman cars were added to certain S.E. & C.R. Continental expresses via Dover, and in the following December to those via Folkestone. In June 1910 they were adopted by the Metropolitan railway on the extension line to Aylesbury. In June 1914 Pullman cars were introduced on a considerable scale by the Caledonian railway, some of them replacing first- and third-class restaurant cars, while others were available only for first-class passengers on payment of a supplement as usual. In Sept. 1915 the L.B. & S.C.R. added third-class Pullman cars to certain trains. From June 16 1919 Pullman cars were added to Folkestone and Kent Coast expresses, S.E. & C.R. In July 1921 the S.E. & C.R. added a special Pullman express, the “Thanet Limited,” between Victoria and Ramsgate Harbour on Sundays. From Nov. 11 1920 Pullman cars began to run on the G.E.R. Both first- and second-class cars now run on its Continental expresses, and first- and third-class cars on other routes.
Withdrawal of Second-Class Accommodation.—Several railways had already withdrawn second-class accommodation, partially or wholly, before 1910, but in Oct. of that year the G.W.R. discontinued provision for second-class passengers. From June 1 1911 the L.B. & S.C.R. adopted the same course; the L. & N.W.R., Cambrian, North Staffordshire, and Maryport & Carlisle from Jan. 1912, and from July 22 1918 the L. & S.W.R.
Season Tickets.—In regard to season tickets several interesting items may be referred to. In May 1910 the G.W.R. commenced to issue season tickets at stations on application. In Dec. of the same year the G.N.R. discontinued calling for deposits on season tickets, this practice being now general on most lines. From Jan. 1 1912 the Metropolitan railway issued “limited season tickets” to the wives of season-ticket holders, a corollary to the shopping tickets which had been issued from Jan. 1910, available only between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., the first-class fares being little more than for third class.
Working Arrangements.—Several important working arrangements and agreements between leading railways were already in operation as between the L. & N.W., L. & Y. and Midland railways, and in May 1910 a similar working arrangement was entered into between the G.W. and L. & S.W. railways. In Aug. 1912 the London, Tilbury & Southend railway was taken over by the Midland company, being thereafter known as the L.T. & S. section. In Oct. of the same year the Great Northern & City railway was incorporated into the Metropolitan system, and in Nov. 1912 the City & South London and Central London railways were brought into the group controlled by the Underground Electric Railways Co. of London, Ltd. In Jan. 1915 a reorganization of the “Underground” companies, co-ordinating the several managements, was adopted. In April of the same year the Great Eastern railway adopted a reorganization of the chief departments, while the operating and commercial departments were separated as from July 1 1915.
Strikes, etc..—In Aug. 1911 there was a short strike of railwaymen which led to the appointment of a special Royal Commission. The principal result of this was the establishment of Conciliation Boards, including representatives of the respective managements, of the various grades of staff and of the Board of Trade, for the purpose of dealing with questions of pay, duties and other problems affecting railway staff. In Sept. 1911 there was a strike of Irish railwaymen. In March 1912 a coal strike entailed many difficulties upon the railways, the Great Eastern being the only large company which was able to maintain approximately full train services throughout. In Dec. of the same year there was a strike on the North-Eastern railway owing to the suspension of a driver named Knox, for alleged drunkenness, but this did not spread to any serious extent. Knox was actually fined for being drunk by the Newcastle magistrates on Oct. 26. He was off duty at the time. But eventually an inquiry by Mr. Chester Jones, the London police-magistrate, resulted in his reporting (Dec. 14) that Knox (though “not quite sober”) had not been “drunk in the police-court sense,” and he was then reinstated. In March 1913 the National Union of Railwaymen was formed from the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, the General Railway Workers' Union, and the United Signalmen's and Pointsmen's Society. In Oct. 1913 a Royal Commission on Railways began its sittings, which were not completed at the outbreak of the war.
Railway (Accounts and Returns) Act 1911.—Commencing Jan. 1 1913, the Railway (Accounts and Returns) Act 1911 came into force, from which date the methods of preparing the annual returns of all railway companies were unified and systematized, and the previous half-yearly periods, with their Scottish variations, gave place to accounts and returns for the calendar year, providing for annual meetings in Feb. in every case. The year 1913 is the only one for which complete accounts and returns were prepared in accordance with the Act, the conditions of railway control and guarantee during and subsequent to the war having prevented later returns being presented in complete form. Indeed, during the actual war period the accounts and returns were reduced to bare essentials, and some tables are still necessarily in abeyance.
“Safety First.”—In 1914 the Great Western railway adopted systematic “Safety First” propaganda, immediately followed by the London “Underground” railways, and since that date the matter has been closely followed up by other companies, several having issued publications to their staff setting forth “Safety First” principles. On Dec. 1 1916 the London “Safety First” Council was constituted, including representatives of several railways.
Locomotive Development.—Superheating was already recognized as a desirable feature of locomotive practice in 1910, and has since become firmly established as an essential part of almost every locomotive design, including tank and shunting as well as main-line passenger and goods classes. The Schmidt and Robinson types are both widely employed, the former in the hands of the firm known as Marine & Locomotive Superheaters, Ltd., and the latter in those of the Superheater Corp., Ltd. Both have been developed, and dampers or draft retarders are now seldom employed, improved designs of release, snifting and other valves or adjuncts, or the use of a steam circulating system, being found to meet the needs of the situation. The designs mainly used in each case are the types A and B of the respective firms. Several other designs are, however, now in considerable use; Mr. G. J. Churchward's “Swindon” apparatus on the Great Western railway; Mr. G. Hughes's “top and bottom header” and “twin plug header” designs on the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway; Mr. R. W. Urie's “Eastleigh” superheater on the London & South-Western railway; Mr. H. N. Gresley's “twin-tube” superheater on the Great Northern railway; Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell's special form of header (M.L.S. superheater, Type C) on the South-Eastern & Chatham railway; and Mr. E. A. Watson's design on the Great Southern & Western railway of Ireland. Mr. J. G. Robinson, of course, uses the “Robinson” pattern on the Great Central railway and his designs are largely used also on other railways. High-degree superheating is now invariably employed.
Feedwater heating is used to a limited extent on certain lines, and the Weir apparatus has been experimentally installed on several others, but the practice is still far from general. The use of oil for fuel continues to be the subject of experiment, but is still exceptional, though during the 1921 coal strike engines were adapted on many lines. Mention may be made of trials of the “Scarab” system on the L. & N.W.R. and other lines, while on the Great Central railway Mr. J. G. Robinson is stated to have obtained notable results from pulverized fuel and a “colloidal” mixture of pulverized coal and oil, also with the “Unolco” oil-burning equipment.
Recent locomotive practice tends towards the systematic adoption of the 4-6-0 type for express and ordinary passenger and fast-goods locomotives, while the 2-6-0 type has appeared on several lines for mixed-traffic duties. The former is often associated with the use of four high-pressure cylinders, and on several railways three-cylinder locomotives of various types have been placed in service, but the ordinary two-cylinder system is still the most general. Walschaert valve gear is becoming more and more widely used. On many railways large tank engines have been introduced, notably of the 4-6-2, 2-6-4, 4-4-4, 0-6-4, and 4-6-4 wheel arrangements, with 0-8-2 and 2-8-0 locomotives for heavy local goods and shunting work.
Rolling Stock.—In the carriage department there have been no special developments since 1910, though improvements in designs already in use have, of course, been made. To some extent, steel panels are being employed, and for electric rolling stock steel construction is now largely used. On the L. & Y.R. all-steel coaches are used on the Manchester-Bury electric route. To provide for rapid detraining and entraining of passengers at busy “Underground” stations, new designs of rolling stock have been adopted, including three sets of double doors on each side, one midway and the others towards, but some distance from, the ends. Steadying pillars and hand-holds are superseding the straps hitherto provided for the convenience of standing passengers. On the goods and mineral side no special developments in rolling stock need to be referred to, except that the use of high-capacity wagons up to 50 tons' capacity is extending, though as yet to a limited extent only.
Miscellaneous.—During 1910 express locomotives of the G.W. and L. & N.W. railways were exchanged for comparative trial; also between the Highland and North British, the L. & N.W. and North British, and the Great Southern & Western and Great Northern in Ireland. On April 4 1914 the well-known horse “Dandy,” which had so long worked the Port Carlisle branch of the North British railway, at last gave place to a steam train. On Dec. 19 1915 occurred the disastrous landslide at “The Warren,” Folkestone, necessitating the closing of the S.E. & C.R. main line between Folkestone and Dover throughout the war period. It was not reopened until Aug. 11 1919.
British Railways under War Conditions
Railway Executive Committee.—As far back as 1865 an Engineer and Railway Staff Corps had been formed to provide an organization of railway managers, engineers and contractors who, in the event of war, would, under the direction of the military authorities, superintend the operation of railways and carry out such additional works as might be necessary. In 1896 the Army Railway Council was constituted, this body being known from 1903 as the War Railway Council. From these bodies was formed in Nov. 1912 the Railway Executive Committee, comprising the general managers of certain leading railways. The work of the Committee was mainly advisory, but included certain preparatory measures which bore good fruit when, on Aug. 4 1914, on the declaration of war, nearly all railways in England, Scotland and Wales were taken over by the Government under the Regulation of the Forces Act 1871, and directed on behalf of the State by the Railway Executive Committee. It may be explained that this Committee was never intended to supersede the actual management of railways, but to issue directions and to coördinate the working of all lines concerned as required by the various emergencies as they arose. Otherwise, and notwithstanding the many uncontemplated developments in the scope and operation of the Committee throughout the war period, the ruling principle was always that the officers of the respective railways should continue to operate their lines without State interference.
Railway Control and Guarantee.—The Act of 1871 provided that, to avoid the complexities of payment for services rendered and other difficulties which necessarily would have arisen, the Government guaranteed to make up any ascertained deficiency in the aggregate net receipts of all the railways taken over as compared with the aggregate for the corresponding period of 1913. Throughout the war period, therefore, all ordinary financial arrangements on the operating side ceased, and the work of the Railway Clearing House in regard to the division of receipts according to ownership of lines and various arrangements between companies was discontinued. The original agreement provided for adjustment according to the conditions during the first half of the year 1914 as compared with the corresponding period in 1913, but, when the question of war bonuses to railway workers to meet the higher cost of living arose early in 1915, it was agreed that this proviso should cease to operate in consideration of the first 25% of the war bonus conceded in Feb. 1915 being borne entirely by the companies, though all subsequent increases were undertaken by the State. In Aug. 1915 the Government accepted the principle of making allowances to the railway companies supplementary to the periodical compensation payments in respect of deferred maintenance and renewal. At a later stage agreements were made as to the payment of interest upon various capital works unproductive at the time of the outbreak of war, or completed and brought into use during the earlier war period, and in regard to many other complicating factors which arose. Some of these agreements occasioned severe strictures by Lord Colwyn's Committee on Railway Agreements, whose report was issued early in 1921, but during the period of hostilities, and notwithstanding the very wide and to some extent undefined scope of control which was eventually forced upon the Railway Executive Committee, the arrangements made by the Committee on behalf of the State with the railway companies are generally regarded to have been reasonable and equitable.
The Government Profit on Railways.—It may be pointed out that, according to a Government return issued under date of April 30 1919, if all Government traffic had been charged for at authorized pre-war rates the amounts would have been as follows for the periods stated:—
|Aug. 5 to Dec. 31 1914||£ 3,500,000|
For the corresponding periods the amounts which the Government had to provide by way of compensation were:—
|Aug. 5 1914 to Dec. 31 1915||£15,946,839|
Beside the actual working of the railways, the use of railway steamers, docks, canals, etc., represented a value estimated at from £10,000,000 to £15,000,000, while munition and similar work done (to the value of about £17,000,000) in railway workshops at cost price and therefore without profit to the companies, also the provision of locomotives, rolling stock, permanent way, etc., for use overseas, indicate the complexities of the arrangements ultimately entailed and the tremendous scope the utilization of the home railways for war purposes eventually attained. The Irish railways were not concerned at first in the Government control and guarantee. They were, however, taken over under similar conditions from Jan. 1 1917. The appended table shows the manner in which the control of railways in association with the Government guarantee operated.
In other words, the aggregate of all the freight, munition, troop and passenger traffic carried on Government account, if charged for, would greatly have exceeded the sum payable by the Government to bring up the annual net receipts to the pre-war level. It has to be remembered, however, that arrears of maintenance and cost of replacement of stock, etc., apart from what was essential at the time, could not figure very prominently in the accounts until after the termination of hostilities. After the Armistice, however, heavy costs were entailed under these and other headings, while the reduction of Government traffic to the relatively very small figures of the post-war period converted the profit of the war years into a serious deficit. The fact remains, however, that while the war emergency continued the bargain made was a very good one for the State, and it was only in 1918 that the, by then, generous wage and war-bonus concessions to the railway staff tended to convert the profit to the State into a deficiency—even then a relatively small one.
Operation of Government Guarantee
|Revenue earned by railways over expenditure||45,171,403||49,420,063||53,885,849||44,068,105|
|Amount of compensation paid by Government to railway|
|companies on basis of published accounts for 1913||46,130,000||46,319,000||46,515,000||46,576,000|
|Profit or Loss to Government||−958,597||+3,101,063||+7,370,849||−2,507,895|
War Bonuses and Concessions to Staff.—As showing the tremendous effect of these concessions it may be mentioned that for the financial year ended March 31 1920, as compared with 1913, the increased cost of working the railways was estimated at 57,000,000 on account of war wage and other concessions, and from £20,000,000 to £25,000,000 due to the eight-hour day and further concessions then recently granted or under discussion. In the opinion of experts it is thought, however, that even these difficulties would not have arisen, at least in so acute a form, had it not been for the maintenance of pre-war rates and charges for goods traffic throughout the war period, while it was not until Jan. 1 1917 (June 1 1918 in Ireland) that ordinary passenger fares were increased by 50 per cent., and then mainly with the object of restricting travel rather than of raising revenue. Had adjustments been made stage by stage, as was done in the case of prices in general trade and industry, the financial situation in regard to railways would have been very greatly improved, and there would have been relatively little objection to the increase which became imperative in the post-war period.
Mobilization Traffic.—Very complete plans for mobilization had been prepared by the Railway Executive Committee long before there was any probability of war, and continually revised and brought up to date, so that everything was ready for the wonderful transportation achievements which followed the declaration of war. Thus between Aug. 10 and 31 no fewer than 670 trains, coming from all parts of the country and conveying horses, guns, baggage and stores, as well as approximately 120,000 men of all ranks, were dealt with at Southampton Docks with little interference with ordinary civilian traffic. Throughout the war period achievements of this character were regularly accomplished at all the chief embarkation centres and there is no instance on record of the breakdown of railway arrangements at any time, even when the tremendous volume of munition and other traffic conducted in national interests, but not directly for war purposes, was also placed upon the railways.
Public Railway Transport.—During the war period it was necessary to impose many restrictions upon both passenger and goods traffic. Excursion and many cheap-fare facilities were early discontinued, as also tourist and certain other classes of tickets carrying special facilities. Continental traffic was, of course, subject to special regulations and from the outbreak of war Dover became a closed area, such continental steamer services as were maintained being diverted to other ports. In fact, at all the great railway ports there were severe restrictions upon civilian traffic. During 1916 further regulations came into force for passenger travel, following a process of deceleration of express trains, partly due to the insertion of stops to enable them to serve the purpose of trains which were withdrawn in order to free the lines for Government traffic, and partly in view of the exceptional loading which became general, and to ease the strain on permanent way, bridges, etc., which could not be maintained to usual standards. From Jan. 1 1917 still further restrictions were imposed upon railway travel and conveyance of luggage; restaurant cars were withdrawn entirely on many lines and reduced on others, and passenger traffic was allocated to specific routes where alternatives had hitherto been available for the same journeys. An increase of 50 per cent. was made upon ordinary passenger fares and from 10 to 20 per cent. on season tickets, the issue of which was regulated, while it was required that they should be shown by each passenger on every journey made. Certain branch lines were closed, most of the rail-motor intermediate services withdrawn, and a large number of stations closed.
Release of Railwaymen.—An important object of these reductions in train services and facilities was to enable railwaymen to be released to serve with the forces, and altogether no fewer than 184,475 men were thus contributed. This figure represented 49 per cent. of the staff of military age in railway employ on Aug. 4 1914. Large numbers of men, apart from Reservists and Territorials, had, of course, joined voluntarily quite early in the war, but the general enlistment of railwaymen was not favoured until 1916, by which time a definite scheme of release had been adopted on a system which reduced inconvenience to the railway companies to a minimum and yet enabled reasonable proportions of men to be supplied.
Railway Officers in Government Service.—Throughout the war railway officers of many grades were freely utilized by the Government, some for special duties involving commissioned rank in the army or navy, and others for rendering expert assistance in civilian capacities to various Government departments. In fact, a considerable number of railway officers in high positions were given important Government appointments in connexion with various existing and new State departments. In other instances, railway officers were temporarily loaned to the Government.
Employment of Women.—Comparatively early in the war women were introduced into many ranks of the railway service, and in due course they were seen on a wide variety of work at passenger and goods stations and depots, in engine sheds, on electric trains as “gatemen” and in a few instances as guards, on cartage and delivery vans, and in the railway workshops, in addition to more obvious employment as clerks, waitresses and in booking-offices. To some extent these measures were rendered practicable by the discontinuance of the more complicated travel facilities, the reduction of record-keeping to a minimum, the abolition of detailed statements between railway companies and Railway Clearing House work; but to a great extent women were employed in direct replacement of men who had been released with but little adjustment of their duties. A total of 55,000 women were thus employed in railway working, and about 6,000 on munition work in railway shops.
Goods and Mineral Traffic Allocation.—Goods and mineral traffic, especially when the manufacture of munitions on a very large scale was going on all over the country under Government direction, became of vital importance, and all other traffic was made subservient thereto. For the control of non-Government traffic a system of allocation was widely adopted, requiring consignors to despatch their goods by specified routes and from particular depots and sometimes on particular days, according to destination, while at times it was necessary to refuse to accept traffic for a time. Arrangements had already been made between the leading railway companies in regard to “common user” of wagons of ordinary type, while private owners' wagons were brought into the “pool.”
Coal Control.—A system of coal control was adopted in 1917, partly due to the necessary discontinuance of a large proportion of the normal coastal water-borne conveyance of coal, by which each part of the country drew its coal supplies from specified colliery areas, and this traffic alone represented an enormous burden.
Military and Naval Traffic.—For the needs of the Army and Navy facilities on a very large scale had to be provided. Apart from the movements of troops for service overseas, continual streams of traffic passed to and from the training camps. Leave travel, however restricted, was inevitably a very big factor, and, as the war progressed, ambulance trains passed very frequently between the Channel ports and hospitals in various parts of the country. Among special facilities which had thus to be afforded may be mentioned the naval leave trains which ran regularly between the north of Scotland and London in connexion with the fleet in northern waters, while a continuous stream of coal trains had to be run between South Wales and other suitable coal areas and the far north of Scotland for the use of naval vessels. One of the chief difficulties, indeed, was the need for using the Highland railway for naval traffic on so large a scale, and parts of this were doubled during the war in order to relieve the congestion which necessarily followed the lengthy single-track mileage of this, as it proved, vitally important line.
Munition Traffic.—Widespread munition manufacture necessarily occasioned a great deal of civilian traffic directly and indirectly in national interests, while in a number of places ordinarily quiet stations or branches became very busy owing to the erection of army camps or of munition works. A few stations had to be specially erected and several new branch lines made.
Railway Docks and Harbours.—As owners of several of the best-equipped docks and harbours, including new ones such as Immingham, G.C.R., and the King George Dock at Hull, H. & B. and N.E. Railways, and the new lock entrance at Newport, Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks & Railway, brought into use shortly before the outbreak of war, in addition to the older ones, such as Southampton, the railways provided the nation with some of the most complete embarkation depots. Most of these became closed areas, and all of them were used to their fullest capacity, either for direct war traffic or when the submarine menace diverted shipping traffic from its accustomed ports.
Railway Steamers.—Railway steamers also were widely used, and of a total of 218 vessels 126 were taken over and 36 lost from various causes. They were used as transports, for the maintenance of national supplies, as minesweepers, and as hospital ships. Frequently even those which remained on regular services had to assist in meeting emergencies, such as the evacuation of Belgian refugees.
Railways and Air Raids.—An important difficulty with which the railways had to deal was that due to the numerous air raids over Great Britain. Relatively little serious damage was done, but the fact that traffic had often to be or worked under difficulties, the reduced lighting generally maintained throughout the more vulnerable parts of the country, and the congestion which followed each cessation of traffic constituted serious hindrances to railway working.
Armoured Trains.—Throughout the war period, too, the possibility of invasion had to be faced, and many special arrangements made with a view to the possible need for transferring the civilian population from the coast towns to the interior. Several armoured trains were constructed in the railway workshops, though they were never called upon for use under service conditions.
Miscellaneous.—At many of the principal railway stations free buffets were installed for the benefit of soldiers and sailors, and in some cases these provided special facilities, as at Victoria, S.E. & C.R., where arrangements were made for the exchange of French for English money, the amount dealt with reaching a total of approximately £10,000,000. At one period the railways were severely con- gested by the traffic due to the evacuation of Belgium, and one result of this was the continual stream of Belgian soldiers coming to England on leave to visit their families, a total of 237,000 thus travelling. At many stations local bodies, such as the V.A.D., etc., made very complete arrangements for providing refreshments to soldiers travelling through and for attendance upon the ambulance trains. Frequently valuable assistance was given by the various ambulance associations belonging to the railway service.
British Railway Work in the War
During the war period British railways rendered essential services on a very large scale, both in regard to traffic requirements at home and those associated with active service in the various war areas. To some extent the former has already been covered by general reference, but further details must be given.
Military and Naval Special Trains.—Between the declaration of war and the date of the Armistice all the larger railways were called upon to run special trains conveying officers and men, frequently with guns, ammunition, horses and equipment, when passing to a port for embarkation to France or other theatres of war. There were also transfers of units between camps, leave travel and special events, such as the arrival of Canadian, S. African and other contingents from abroad and their journeys from ports of arrival to training centres, together with that portion of the American army which passed through the United Kingdom. In the aggregate the numbers of special trains operated by the leading railways were very great, and the following table shows, as far as information is available, the number of special trains mainly, if not exclusively, on the passenger side, run by the railways mentioned, with the numbers of officers and men who travelled:—
|Trains|| Officers and Men |
|L. & S.W.R.||58,859||20,223,954|
|L. & N.W.R.||56,470||22,268,000|
|L.B. & S.C.R.||27,366||—|
Three other railways may be mentioned, though their totals include also ambulance trains, goods and other specials:—
|Trains|| Officers and Men |
|S.E. & C.R.||163,000||12,141,933|
The numbers of special trains required on the freight side are more indefinite, as they included many trains run to meet the needs of the Government munition undertakings and of coal traffic passing from the colliery areas to the Fleet bases, and, to some extent, in connexion with the coal control scheme. However, it may be mentioned that on the London, Brighton & South Coast railway no fewer than 53,376 special trains were run mainly for traffic to and from the ports on the system. On the Great Western railway the total was 63,349 and on the Great Eastern railway 11,000. To meet the needs of the Fleet several railways ran 20 or even more trains per day conveying Admiralty coal. The arrival of the American army in Great Britain entailed the running of 1,684 special trains on the London & North-Western railway and 1,139 on the Great Western railway. When the Canadian contingents first arrived in England the London & South-Western railway was required to run 92 specials from Plymouth alone.
Ambulance Trains.—For home service a total of 20 trains was equipped for army use: G.C.R. 3; G.E.R. 2; G.W.R. 4; L. & Y.R. 2; L. & N.W.R. 5; L. & S.W.R. 2; M.R. 2. There were also two in Ireland, one each equipped by the G.N. and G.S. & W. railways. Five naval ambulance trains were also in use, these differing somewhat in regard to internal arrangements and equipment. Many individual vehicles were also fitted for the purpose of conveying small numbers of men in ordinary trains, and there were nine other trains sufficiently equipped to be brought into use as emergency ambulance trains. For service overseas 30 ambulance trains were equipped by the home railways, each consisting of 16 bogie coaches. These were supplied as follows: G.C.R. 1; G.E.R. 4; G.W.R. 8; L. & Y.R. 3; L. & N.W.R. 7; L. & S.W.R. 1; L.B. & S.C.R. 1; M.R. 2; N.E.R. 1; L. & N.W.R. and G.E.R. 1 jointly; L. & N.W.R. and L.B. & S.C.R. 1 jointly. Two trains presented by the United Kingdom Flour Millers' Association were constructed by the G.E. and G.W. railways jointly, and the Lord Michelham (or “Queen Mary”) presentation train was equipped by the L.B. & S.C. and L. & N.W. railways. A further train, known as the Princess Christian Hospital Train, was built by the Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Company. A majority of these trains was employed in France, but two went to Egypt and one to Salonika. When the American army came arrangements were made for 19 other trains, of the same general type as those previously supplied for overseas service, to be equipped by British railways for the use of the U.S.A. forces in France, as follows: G.C.R. 1; G.E.R. 1; G.W.R. 4; L. & Y.R. 3; L. & N.W.R. 4; L. & S.W.R. 1; M.R. 5. Twenty-nine others were on order at the date of the Armistice, when, of course, work was at once suspended. Including spare and extra vehicles, a total of 822 vehicles was thus adapted for the Government trains, and 304 for the U.S. trains.
The following numbers of journeys made by ambulance trains on various railways will indicate the enormous volume of this traffic, these figures applying, of course, only to the ambulance trains running on the home railways: L. & N.W.R. 13,318; L. & S.W.R. 10,173; S.E. & C.R. 7,515; G.W.R. 5,000; M.R. 3,982; N.B.R. 1,800; G.E.R. 1,172. This traffic was dealt with at various ports, but it is worthy of note that no fewer than 3,166 were despatched from the new Marine station at Dover, uncompleted at the time of the outbreak of war, but finished off at an early date sufficiently to serve for the transfer of wounded men.
Troop Movement and other Military Traffic.—The numbers of special trains given above will indicate the enormous dimensions which the traffic entailed by troop movement involved. At suitable places large numbers of both passenger and goods vehicles had to be kept in reserve to provide for movements of troops at short notice, and many of the cross-country or connecting lines proved of special value in enabling through journeys to be made from one system to another and by providing alternative routes to avoid congestion. The North London, Hampstead Junction, and North and South-West Junction railways carried nearly 14,000 special trains, and on several dates public traffic was entirely discontinued. The “widened” lines of the Metropolitan railway, through Farringdon Street and the connexion to the South-Eastern & Chatham railway at Ludgate Hill, were used by no fewer than 626,000 special passenger or goods trains, though this route was restricted by the limited loading gauge and could not, therefore, be used for ambulance trains and certain other traffic. The West London railway dealt with about 150 troop or special trains per month, and the East London a gross total of about 1,000. Bearing in mind that the magnitude of the forces involved a tremendous amount of leave travel, it may be mentioned that, during 1917 only, over 28,000,000 of H.M. forces travelled free by warrant on the home railways, while nearly 2,000,000 journeys were similarly made by civilians in Government service.
Traffic at Ports.—Dover was largely used as a centre for ambulance train traffic, but at Southampton a very large volume of stores, munitions and other material was dealt with, besides a considerable amount of shipping traffic necessarily continued. The Southampton train ferry to Dieppe was brought into use in Nov. 1917, that at Richborough, near Sandwich, being completed in Feb. 1918. Both enabled goods wagons to be sent across without transshipment, and they were especially useful for the conveyance of tanks, heavy guns, locomotives, etc. Avonmouth, Devonport and Liverpool were used as ports for supplying the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian forces. Immingham and other East Coast ports were largely used for supplying the fleets in more southern waters, while Leith, Aberdeen, Invergordon, Thurso and other Scottish centres were kept very busy in meeting the demands of the Grand Fleet. Newhaven and Littlehampton together dealt with nearly 7,000,000 tons of traffic on war account. In addition to the steamer traffic across the Channel the South Coast ports, including Richborough, sent over 1,000,000 tons by means of sea-going barges.
Munition and Admiralty Coal Traffic.—Besides the traffic directly required for the army and navy, the railways had to meet many other traffic requirements, as indicated by the following: The South-Eastern & Chatham railway alone conveyed nearly 200,000 tons of army mails, parcel-post packages and lighter stores not dealt with in bulk, via Dover and Folkestone. On the London & North-Western railway nearly 16,000 trains were run for the conveyance of Admiralty coal. In many parts of the country extensive forestry work was undertaken, and the conveyance of the cut timber amounted to hundreds of thousands of tons on many railways. On the North-Eastern railway the tonnage of goods conveyed on Government account amounted to 5,500,000, and of Admiralty coal nearly 12,000,000 tons, while to serve the numerous munition centres in the north-eastern area involved the conveyance of some 84,000,000 workpeople. On the Great Western railway at one time no fewer than 360 additional trains had to be run daily, solely for the conveyance of workers to the various war factories.
Locomotives and Rolling Stock sent Overseas.—A number of locomotives under construction for various colonial and foreign railways were commandeered by the Government and diverted for use in France and elsewhere, while large orders were given for the building of engines by British firms for use in France. A total of 247, of a contemplated order for 500 of the 2-8-0 type alone, was constructed. But to meet immediate needs it was necessary for British railways to supply considerable numbers of engines from their own stocks, mainly for France, though some went to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Salonika. The total locomotives thus supplied numbered 675, of which the L. & N.W.R. provided in; G.W.R. 95; M.R. 78; N.E.R. 50; G.C.R. 33; and G.N.R. 23; the remainder being sent by other companies. In addition, 30,000 goods wagons were sent overseas, together with 100 special wagons and 40 30-ton coal wagons. The Great Central railway constructed six engines to the design adopted for the War Department 2-8-0 locomotives which were, in fact, substantially to G.C.R. designs; 2,500 20-ton covered wagons were built in railway workshops.
Besides the standard-gauge rolling stock, large numbers of steam, petrol, and petrol-electric locomotives of small types, and wagons of various designs, for use on the light railways in France, were built by various firms, though not much of this work was done by the railway companies beyond the equipment of Ford cars as rail tractors at Crewe Works. A considerable amount of permanent way was, however, sent overseas by the home railway companies, partly by taking up certain light-traffic branch lines or by converting double lines to single track, and also to a considerable extent from stock. A great quantity of bridge parts, machinery, cranes and other material was also supplied from stock, while the equipment of the army railway workshops in France was largely provided by the various railway companies.
War Work in Railway Shops.—As already mentioned, this was undertaken to the value of about £17,000,000, and covered a wide range of products from ambulance stretchers, road vans and gun-carriages to the repair of cartridge cases and the production of shell cases, frequently of large sizes. Several travelling workshop trains were also equipped in the British railway shops. In a number of instances, too, railway companies undertook the repair of Belgian and other locomotives sent over from France.
The Railway Troops.—As already mentioned, a total of 184,475 men was released from railway service to join H.M. forces. They were largely utilized in the formation of, or transferred to, the various sections known generically as the Railway Troops attached to the Royal Engineers. A number of the companies were recruited mainly from the men of a particular railway, especially in the case of the L. & N.W.R. (115th) and the G.W.R. (116th, 262nd and 275th), while the 118th was recruited chiefly from the G.E. and N.E. railways. There were two principal sections, the Railway Construction Troops and the Railway Operating Division, the former numbering 35 companies and the latter 42½ companies, including those dealing with the light railways. Besides these there were Labour, Roads, Canadian Overseas Construction, Canadian Operating, S. African and Australian companies, bringing the total to 118½ companies. The various camp railways were also supplied from these bodies.
The Post-Armistice Period
On the cessation of active hostilities the pressure of war traffic at once eased, though it was some weeks before Government traffic materially decreased in volume. Necessarily, for some time afterwards the completion of work in hand and the traffic occasioned thereby kept the railways fairly busy, though with less urgency and strain. Leave travel was even more freely given, and the demobilization of the forces for many months placed a big strain upon the railways on the passenger side. National traffic on the goods side, too, remained heavy, as systems of control of food-stuffs, coal and necessities could not at once be discontinued, and was further complicated by the public call for the return of unrestricted transit conditions, for improvements in facilities, and for a resumption of the relative freedom of pre-war conditions. There were also tremendous arrears of construction and maintenance of railway permanent way and rolling stock to be overtaken.
Demobilization of the Forces.—This traffic was a very big thing in itself, and numerous special trains had to be run between the ports and the demobilization centres. It was estimated that 40,000 men would be dealt with daily, and that was about the number realized. But the effect of public pressure caused great irregularity, and, as a result, the railways had to deal with much of this traffic—which also included the dispersal journeys of men from the demobilization centres—as best they could. One dispersal depot alone thus dealt with over 1,000,000 men. Horses had also to be conveyed in large numbers, many being brought back in through trucks via the Channel train-ferries. Their sale, also the large traffic occasioned by the return of rolling stock and material from overseas, and the sale of army stocks of all kinds under the direction of the Disposals Board, added appreciably to the work of the railways.
Arrears of Maintenance and Construction.—The work thus involved was necessarily of great volume and expense. It entailed relaying of lines, repair and reconstruction of bridges, completion of deferred new works, repair of locomotives and rolling stock, and the construction of overdue replacements. In addition certain war extensions had to be dismantled, and workshops cleared of special machinery, and not a few new machines added in place of those which had become worn out. Public opinion ceased to look quite so favourably upon the large expenditure thus incurred. The companies had, of course, placed to reserve large sums in view of this work, but as they had been limited to net receipts on a pre-war basis, these were necessarily on pre-war standards, though usually with increases as far as practicable, whereas when the money had to be spent costs of materials and labour had increased approximately threefold. Agreements made between the Government and the companies provided for the difference being made up, but the amounts involved became so great that in Oct. 1920 a Committee was appointed to report upon these agreements. In large measure this was little more than a sop to public opinion, for the report of Lord Colwyn's Committee, as it is generally called, took little account of the merits of the case, and appeared mainly concerned with a solution which presented very much the appearance of repudiation of agreements when they became unpleasantly expensive. However, it was generally realized that these costs were the inevitable corollary to the great benefits, and actual profit as shown in a previous section, obtained by the nation from the railways during the war period; and a settlement was ultimately arrived at in May 1921, providing for the payment in two instalments of £60,000,000, after the termination of Government control in Aug. 1921. Until then the arrangements already adopted for monthly payments in respect of arrears of construction and maintenance were continued. This solution avoided much prospective litigation and represented a reasonable degree of give-and-take on both sides. The Colwyn Report suggested that a total of £156,000,000 would thus be involved, but this was given without data and was almost certainly overstated. Payments already made must be considered in conjunction with the £60,000,000 accepted in settlement. The corresponding amount agreed upon in respect of the Irish railways was £3,000,000.
Railway Guarantee and the Subsidy.—As Government traffic diminished in volume, and more and more national traffics were returned with de-control to private enterprise, the effect of the high cost of materials and supplies, and the generous wage and other concessions, quickly resulted in the railways requiring considerable subsidies. At the end of 1919 belated action was taken to increase railway charges to an economic level, the lack of which action had largely caused the very serious position which arose after the conclusion of active hostilities. Thus, whereas the amount of Government compensation in 1918 was £46,576,000, and the receipts, including the estimated value of Government traffic, £44,068,105 on account of railway working alone, for the year ended March 31 1920 the realized deficit amounted to £41,349,530, even after allowing for certain increases in charges which came into force during that period. And for the 1920-1 period the net Exchequer liability was estimated at £54,500,000.
Wage Concessions and Increased Costs.—These provide the chief explanation for the large subsidies entailed, expenses having risen nearly 200% and receipts an average of only 80% as compared with 1913, the year upon which the Government guarantee of net receipts was based. Thus the gross receipts, expenditure and net receipts for 1913, 1919 and 1920 were:—
|Net Receipts (Railway)||£45,809,000||£46,265,000||£46,674,000|
In the case of four representative railways, English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh, wages and salaries alone showed the following increases:—
|London and North-Western||£6,000,000||£20,000,000|
|Great Northern (Ireland)||£357,000||£1,406,000|
War-time concessions consisted mainly of the flat-rate allowances of 33s. per week, reached by successive increases in view of the rising cost of living, but after the Armistice action was taken by the Railwaymen's Unions in respect of the eight-hour day (granted from Feb. 1 1919), standardizing of wages and grading. The eight-hour day caused many difficulties and is necessarily costly, especially as it had to be equalized for many men whose wages were not calculated on that basis. Throughout 1919 there were continual labour difficulties, and a serious strike lasted from Sept. 26 until Oct. 5, settled by an agreement that no reductions in wages should occur before Sept. 30 1920, and the whole matter thoroughly explored. In Oct. 1919 Central and National Wages Boards were set up. In Jan. 1920 an agreement was announced providing for an addition to the wages of each grade of 38s. per week and for cost of living allowances rising or falling in accordance with Board of Trade figures, with standardized rates of pay which should not fall below 100% over pre-war rates. This was at first objected to, but was accepted on Jan. 15 1920. Subsequent negotiations dealt with supervisory and other grades. Certain further advances were given in June 1920, and in view of the accompanying costs of materials and supplies it will be understood that these additions much more than balanced the alleged railway “subsidies.”
Ministry of Transport.—An announcement, apparently unauthorized, by Mr. Winston Churchill in Dec. 1918, that nationalization of the railways was contemplated caused a great deal of misunderstanding. There were, however, many matters requiring attention, and these together resulted in the bill for establishing a Ministry of Ways and Communications presented to Parliament in Feb. 1919. As first introduced its contemplated scope and powers were considered to be too far-reaching, but in a modified form it was passed as the Ministry of Transport Act, receiving Royal Assent on Aug. 26 1919, the Ministry being established as from Sept. 23 1919. The Ministry took over several sections of existing departments, including the Railway Department of the Board of Trade and the Roads Board. The Railway Executive Committee continued as such until Jan. 1 1920, but most of its members were retained on the Railway Advisory Committee. Various other advisory and reporting committees have since been established.
Rates, Fares and Charges.—Apart from the 50% increase in ordinary passenger fares, and of 10 to 20% increases in season-ticket charges, railway rates remained as in pre-war years until the Ministry of Transport announced increases in demurrage rates as from Jan. 1 1920, and of 50% on goods rates as from Jan. 15 1920. These were followed on Aug. 6 by further increases bringing ordinary passenger fares up to 75% and season tickets 50% over pre-war rates, and from Sept. 1920 workmen's tickets were increased, and goods rates raised to substantially 100%. On Dec. 22 1920 the Rates Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Transport reported on the general question of rates and charges, and their recommendations materially influenced the Railway Bill placed before Parliament on May 11 1921.
Grouping and the Future of Railways.—One of the provisions of the Ministry of Transport Act was that a policy for the future of the home railways should be promulgated within two years. An outline of proposals was issued in July 1920, suggesting, inter alia, the amalgamation of railways into groups as follows: (1) Southern, combining the South-Eastern & Chatham, the Brighton, and the South-Western; (2) Western, the present Great Western system with the Welsh lines; (3) North-Western, combining the North-Western, the Midland and the Lancashire & Yorkshire, North Staffordshire and Furness; (4) Eastern, combining the Great Northern, the Great Central, and the Great Eastern; (5) North-Eastern, the present North-Eastern system and the Hull & Barnsley; (6) London Group (local lines); and (7) a Scottish Group for the whole of Scotland. These proposals were severely criticized, and the Railway Companies' Association adopted the following alternative: Group 1, London & North-Western, Midland, Lancashire & Yorkshire, North Staffordshire, Furness, Caledonian, Glasgow & South-Western, and Highland railways; Group 2, Great Central, Great Northern, Great Eastern, Hull & Barnsley, North-Eastern, North British, and Great North of Scotland railways; Group 3, Great Western and Welsh lines; Group 4, London & South-Western, London, Brighton & South Coast, and South-Eastern & Chatham railways; Group 5, London railways (local lines). On May 11 1921 the promised bill was placed before Parliament, and embodied the following modified scheme: (1) Southern Group, London & South-Western, London, Brighton & South Coast, South-Eastern, and London Chatham & Dover railways; (2) Western Group, Great Western and Welsh railways; (3) North-Western and Midland Group, London & North-Western, Midland, Lancashire & Yorkshire, North Staffordshire and Furness railways; (4) North-Eastern and Eastern Group, North Eastern, Great Central, Great Eastern, Great Northern and Hull & Barnsley railways; (5) West Scottish Group, Caledonian, Glasgow & South-Western and Highland railways; (6) East Scottish Group, North British and Great North of Scotland Railways. During proceedings in Committee of the House of Commons the 5th group was combined with the 1st, and the 6th with the 2nd, substantially as proposed by the Railway Companies' Association, and the Act, which received Royal Assent on Aug. 19 1921, therefore provides for four groups only:—Southern; Western; North-Western, Midland and West Scottish; North-Eastern, Eastern and East Scottish. Amalgamation is to become effective on July 1 1923. The proposed London group was dropped in view of proposals for the setting-up of a London Traffic Board. Provisions were also made for the inclusion of representatives of the Railwaymen's Unions in association with railway officers on advisory councils, etc. (not as directors as at first claimed), and for the continuance of the Central, National and local Wages Board. It was considered that these provisions, some of which represented agreements already made in conjunction with the fare and rate increases in force according to the proposals of the Rates Advisory Committee, would enable the railway companies to operate under solvent and economic conditions on the termination of control on Aug. 15 1921. In regard to amalgamation it may be mentioned that early in 1921 preliminary arrangements of this character had already been made in regard to the North-Eastern and Hull & Barnsley railways, and the London & North-Western and Lancashire & Yorkshire railways, in addition to several smaller companies to be absorbed by their larger neighbours. The chief difficulty, in fact, was in regard to Scottish railways, which, it was claimed, would be so seriously affected that they could not hold their own in a group by themselves, the alternative of amalgamation with appropriate associated English companies being favoured. Hence the altered grouping adopted by the Act as finally passed. Control was actually terminated at midnight on Aug. 15 1921.
Restoration of Facilities.—During the war many usual facilities of travel were withdrawn, but during 1920-1 a number were restored, as follows: pre-war luggage allowance for passenger-train traffic, June 14 1920; passengers' luggage in advance, July 1 1920; day excursion tickets, Aug. 12 1920; period excursion tickets, Dec. 24. 1920; week-end tickets, May 11 1921 (deferred, owing to the coal strike, until Aug. 20, and Aug. 19 in the case of commercial travellers). G.E.R. continental services were resumed Feb. 25 1919; L.B. & S.C.R., June 1 1919; the Dover-Calais route, S.E. & C.R., Jan. 8 1920; and the Hull and Zeebrugge route, N.E. and L. & Y. railways, May 14 1920. Express-train running was rapidly restored to a good level during 1920, and though still below pre-war standards the main line services on all routes became very creditable in July 1921, both for speed and number. On some lines, indeed, pre-war schedules were definitely reinstated, and in certain instances facilities were even better than before the war. The suburban traffic problem was, however, still serious. On the “Underground” lines new rolling stock, when delivered, materially eased the inevitable congestion. An arrangement had been made during the war whereby the associated “Underground” railways, of which the Metropolitan District only was controlled and subject to Government guarantee, should pool their receipts, including also the London General Omnibus Company. To meet the peculiar conditions of the situation a special Act of Parliament was passed, and from Sept. 26 1920 these lines were empowered to charge “revised fares,” the Metropolitan District railway ceasing to come under the guarantee. Allocation of passenger travel to specific routes, already partly in desuetude, partially disappeared during the early months of 1921, and finally in July of that year.
Goods Traffic.—During 1920 most of the special regulations imposed under war conditions disappeared, though the common-user of wagons still continued, and by coöperative action it had become possible to realize a higher standard of wagon loading. Commencing with the four weeks ending Jan. 29 1920, the Ministry of Transport commenced to issue detailed statistics of goods traffic operation, and on the completion of twelve months these were altered to agree with the calendar months, in combination with corresponding passenger traffic statistics. (J. A. K.)
The decade 1910-20 was marked by many fundamentally important developments in organization, management, and public regulation of American railways. During the early part of the period a tendency, which had begun during the latter half of the preceding decade, toward a decreasing rate of return on the investment in railways caused serious financial distress and a marked decline from the normal rate of development of railway facilities, equipment and service. The years 1915 and 1916 brought large increases in freight tonnage through the transportation of war materials for the Allies. The active participation of the United States in the World War, beginning in April 1917, made even greater demands upon facilities already overtaxed. To meet these demands the railways tried the experiment of voluntary unification through a committee of railway presidents clothed with plenary power by the boards of directors of practically all railway companies to operate the railways as one national system during the war. In the national emergency, in which the closest possible coördination of the agencies of transportation with the several branches of the Federal Government was absolutely essential, the experiment of voluntary unification was not satisfactory, and on Jan. 1 1918, as a temporary war measure, the railways were taken over by the Government, to be operated by a director-general responsible to the President. Federal operation continued until March 1 1920, when the railways were returned to private operation under the terms of the Transportation Act of that year. That Act fundamentally amended the existing policy of national regulation of railways and extended the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Principally because of the serious business depression of 1920-1, and the decline in the volume of railway traffic, the results of the first year of operation under the Transportation Act were disappointing. In the summer of 1921 the subject again was commanding national attention. A choice among three policies was then incumbent upon Congress: (1) to rely upon private ownership and operation under the principles of the Transportation Act (hereinafter described) to take care of the situation when business conditions became normal; (2) to make some compromise between a policy of private control and initiative and Government operation or ownership; and (3) completely to nationalize the railways.
Pre-War Conditions and Legislation.—The 1910 amendment to the original (1887) Act to regulate commerce (see 22.830) created the Commerce Court to act upon appeals from decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The new court was intended to specialize in the technique of transportation and to expedite the determination of cases theretofore passed upon by Federal courts of general jurisdiction with crowded dockets containing cases of all kinds. In many of its early decisions the Commerce Court overruled the Interstate Commerce Commission and, because it appeared to limit the effectiveness of the Commission, the Court became unpopular. The public attitude toward railways at that time was unfriendly, and Congress responded to public pressure by abolishing the Commerce Court in 1913.
In response to an insistent public demand, growing out of the belief that the railways were being allowed to earn returns on fictitious capitalization, the Federal Valuation Act was passed in 1913. The Act required the Interstate Commerce Commission to determine the physical valuation of the railways individually, as of June 30 1914, and to cause records to be kept which would accurately reflect all changes in property values after that date. Three bases were prescribed tentatively: (1) original cost to date, in the cases where the information could be obtained; (2) estimated cost of reproduction, new; and (3) estimated cost of reproduction, new, less depreciation. The work of determining values had been in progress since 1914, but no final figures were available in 1921 or expected until 1923 at earliest, although tentative valuations of a few properties had been made public.
Another piece of legislation, known as the Clayton Act, of 1914, contains a section which has an important bearing upon railways. The Act was intended to strengthen the so-called Anti-Trust Act and to prevent collusion between directors and officers of railways and directors and officers of manufacturing and other concerns dealing in railway equipment, coal and other supplies. It requires that contracts for supplies which will cost more than $50,000 must be open to competitive bids invited by advertisements. A railway company is prohibited from having dealings in excess of $50,000 per year with a concern having a director, officer or agent who is also a director, officer or agent of the railway. The Act was to be in force from 1916, but because of war conditions the effective date was postponed until Jan. 1 1921.
About 1906 a downward tendency began to be apparent in the rate of return on railway investment. This change restricted the flow of new capital into railway development new lines and improvements of existing lines. The traditional policy of American railways had been to keep their facilities well ahead of the demands of growing traffic. In view of the fact that the volume of freight traffic doubles about every 12 years, and that the numbers of passengers carried one mile doubles about every 15 years, the need of such a policy is apparent. The practice of the conservative railways was to “plough in” a substantial part of their net income each year by making improvements out of income instead of issuing new securities. Such a policy, however, could not be continued with constantly diminishing net income. The downward tendency in the rate of return was caused in part by a hardening of the rate structure through a more inflexible policy of public regulation, in part by steadily increasing costs of wages and materials, and in part by the greater difficulty of finding means through economies and new operating methods of overcoming increasing costs. With declining net returns, and a general lack of confidence on the part of the public toward railways, railway securities lost their attraction, and investors sought other fields. The railways experienced much difficulty in obtaining new capital for the additional facilities required to keep their plants in step with traffic growth, and many of the weak lines reached such financial straits that they could not maintain their solvency. The cumulative effect of these tendencies reached the climax in 1915 when 42,000 m., or about one-sixth of the entire mileage of the country, was in the hands of receivers, and when less new mileage was built than in any year since the period of the Civil War.
Effects of the World War.—This was the situation when the effect of the World War was first felt by American railways. The orders from the Allies for munitions and other war supplies caused a sudden increase in freight tonnage. The additional revenues acted as a stay against financial distress, but the railways found their traffic-carrying capacity taxed to the full. Then came the added traffic burden when the United States entered the war in April 1917.
To meet the emergency the railways, through the American
Railway Association, organized a railroad war board and delegated
to its five members complete control over operation. The purpose
was to coordinate management under private ownership and
control so that the railways, during the war emergency, would merge
their merely individual and competitive activities in the effort to
produce the maximum of transportation efficiency. The board did
much to increase the capacity of the railways through unified operation
and common use of facilities, and during the first six months
following voluntary unification, the heavily increased traffic was
handled satisfactorily. But during the late autumn and early
winter of 1917 acute traffic congestion occurred at the Atlantic
seaboard ports, through which the greater part of the war supplies
was exported, and the blockade extended back to the important
inland industrial centres. The congestion was caused by several
factors, among which two were outstanding. One has already been
mentioned the financial inability of the railways to keep up their
former programmes of providing additional facilities in advance of
traffic needs. The second was the lack of effective coördination
between the railways and the several branches of the Government,
each of which demanded priority of movement for its freight, thereby
creating great confusion. The congestion and its interference
with traffic, the perilous financial condition of the railways, the
spirit of unrest among railway employees because of the greatly
increased wage rates paid by manufacturing and ship-building plants,
and the need of better coordination of all agencies essential to the
successful prosecution of the war, led to the President's proclamation
of Dec. 26 1917, taking over the railways to be operated by the
Government from Jan. I 1918. The Government could advance
the funds required to provide the additional facilities urgently needed
for war purposes; by paying a rental equivalent to pre-war net
operating income it could prevent further bankruptcy of railway
companies; by paying higher wages than the railway companies
were able to pay, it could remove the cause of unrest among
employees; by making the railways a branch of the Government it
could more effectively coördinate transportation with other Government
activities; and by the complete temporary elimination of lines
of corporate interest a more effective unification of all facilities and
equipment would be possible.
Federal Control in the War.—The Federal Control Act of 1918 provided that the railways should be operated for the President by a director-general of railroads. Practically all of the railways were taken over, and were operated, with little change in the individual units, by Federal managers (in nearly all cases the former operating executive) reporting to regional directors, seven in all, who in turn reported to the director-general. The latter was assisted by staff-directors in charge of the several divisions law, finance, purchasing, traffic, operation, labour, accounting, public service and capital expenditures. With few exceptions the entire organization, from the Federal managers to the regional and division directors, was made up of men carefully selected from the railway service. Political influence had no play in appointment. The Act provided that the railways should be returned to their owners for private operation within 21 months after the signing of the treaty of peace. The Government during the period of Federal control was required to keep up the usual standards of maintenance, so that the properties would be returned at the end of Federal control in as good condition and as complete in equipment as when taken. Failing to do this, the railway companies were to be compensated for the deficiencies. The annual rental was set as a sum equal to the average annual net operating income earned by the companies during the three years ended June 30 1917. The principles of unification and consolidation of facilities and equipment were carried much further by the director-general than by the Railroad War Board. Terminals and other facilities, and locomotives and cars, were used in common. Advertising, soliciting, off-line agencies, and other normal competitive activitives were abolished. Traffic was routed by the most convenient lines, regardless of shippers' directions, or of the effect of diversions on the earnings of the individual units in the national system. The aim was to utilize every instrumentality of transportation to the highest degree of traffic-handling efficiency.
The results of Federal control during the year 1918 while the war was in progress were satisfactory in that they met the emergency. The traffic of that year, both in ton-miles and in passenger-miles, exceeded all previous records. What was more important, the coördination of railway management with other branches of the Government had the effect of producing the kind of transportation most necessary for war purposes. The congestion of the early winter of 1917 was quickly relieved. The heavy demands of troop movements were completely met. The loaded cars on hand at the seaboard were always a little ahead of the ocean-going tonnage capacity, and the railways, after May 1, kept up their part of the programme of moving export food supplies for the civilian population of the Allies. The insistent preference given to war traffic naturally entailed some curtailments in service for civilian population of the United States. These curtailments were patriotically accepted. A system of centralized control established priority for the various kinds of freight and controlled traffic at the source by requiring permits before freight would be accepted. Such permits were not issued unless transportation conditions at destination were such that the freight could be quickly unloaded. Manufacturers and dealers were asked to load cars with larger shipment units, or otherwise to conserve car space by changing methods of packing. One of the first acts of the director-general was to appoint a commission to make recommendations as to wage increases. The commission made its report in May and its recommendations were adopted and made retroactive to Jan. 1 1918. The increases in pay-roll expenditure were substantial. Coincident with the promulgation of the new wage scale, the director-general created the Board of Railway Wages and Working Conditions and later he appointed three Boards of Adjustment to pass upon disputes as to working rules and discipline. Both the wage and the adjustment boards were bi-partisan with equal representation from the officials, representing management, and from the executives of the labour organizations, representing the employees. During 1918 there were no strikes or other labour disturbances. The director-general was given almost autocratic authority to increase freight and passenger rates and other transportation charges or regulations. The Interstate Commerce Commission and the state commissions temporarily were shorn of power. An increase of 25% in freight rates and about 20% in passenger rates was made effective in June, a few days after the wage increases were announced. While in a general way it was hoped that the advances in rates, coupled with the expected economies in unified control, would offset the higher wage rates and other increases in operating costs, the net financial results were regarded as of secondary importance as compared with the increase of transportation capacity. The rate advances were insufficient to meet rising costs and the final result of the first year of Federal control, with no allowances for deficiences in maintenance or depletion in stocks of materials and supplies, was a deficit of over $200,000,000. In other words, the net operating income earned by the director-general was that much less than the rentals paid to the railway companies. This deficit, however, may properly be regarded as one item of the cost of carrying on the war. In view of the satisfactory transportation service, particularly during the summer of 1918 when the armies of the United States were at the height of their activities, and comparing the deficit with the expenditures of other branches of the Government, the cost was not great.
The second phase of Federal control was the period from the signing of the Armistice in Nov. 1918, until March 1 1920, when the roads were returned to private management. This post-war period of Federal control was not marked by results as satisfactory as those of 1918. It would have been much better if the period of Federal control had ended Dec. 31 1918. Immediately after the Armistice the moral factor of patriotism, which had been so effective during the first ten months of Federal control, almost entirely disappeared. As soon as the war was over the employees through their organizations began a campaign to hold and to extend further the concessions which had been made freely under the exigencies of war; the thoughts of the officers began to turn to their corporate and personal interests; and among a minority of the administration officials active steps were taken to bring about an indefinite extension of Federal control with the ultimate aim of nationalization. The public, however, had little patience with the director-general's proposal to Congress that Federal control should be extended five years, and the suggestion had little support outside of the labour organizations and the political forces aligned on the side of nationalization. Chambers of commerce, shippers' organizations, and the general public, in the natural reaction against perpetuating war-time governmental control of business, insisted that the railways should be returned to private control. This general attitude toward the subject, and the alarming deficits which were being added to that of 1918, influenced Congress to take active steps to restore the railways to their pre-war status, but great difficulty was experienced in agreeing upon a plan which would be satisfactory in detail to both the House and the Senate. While the hearings and the debates dragged throughout the year 1919, the transportation service suffered in efficiency and among the more radically inclined employees there were frequent and serious strikes. It was found necessary to grant further increases in wages and to enter into the so-called “national agreements” containing many burdensome and restrictive rules such as, for example, the abolition of piece-work in shops. Most of these national agreements were made almost on the eve of the return of the railways. They were drawn by the labour advisors to the director-general and were adopted over the protest of the railway operating officials. These national agreements were partially abrogated July 1 1921, by order of the Railway Labor Board created by the Transportation Act of 1920.
The final cost to the Government for the 26 months of Federal control was estimated by the director-general at a minimum of $1,200,000,000. It seemed probable that it would be much greater, as this estimate allowed only about $300,000,000 for under-maintenance and for differences in the quantities of materials and supplies on hand at the beginning and at the end of Federal control.
A great deal of controversy arose over the question of relative maintenance during and prior to Federal control, but the differences hinge mainly upon the degree of under-maintenance. There can be no doubt that the condition of the properties was not so good at the end of Federal control as at its beginning, but the exact degree of deterioration cannot be determined as no inspection or survey was made when Federal control began. The records show conclusively that the normal rate of renewals of rails, ties and ballast was not kept up during Federal control, and the universal complaint of the railway executives that freight cars were not maintained at normal standards is supported by the opinions of experts. On the whole, the conditions of locomotives did not suffer, but less than the normal amount of work was done on passenger cars. Bridges and buildings suffered because of neglect in painting, but on the other hand many improvements were made in shops and in engine-house facilities. Whatever may be the degree of under-maintenance it should be remembered that it was impracticable during the greater part of the period of Federal control to obtain the necessary amount of materials and full forces of men. These difficulties were partly removed in 1919, but in that year the serious decline in traffic and in earnings made it inexpedient, in the judgment of the director-general, to attempt to make up the deficiences. A proviso in the contract between him and the railway companies gave the director-general the option of measuring his maintenance obligations by the amounts actually spent by each company during the three years prior to Federal control, these amounts to be properly equated to allow for increases in the cost of wages and materials, and he chose to limit the expenditures so as to keep them within that obligation, leaving the accounting and the settlement to be worked out after the termination of Federal control. Instructions were issued, however, that nothing essential to safety in operation was to be left undone. An inspection of the amounts spent for maintenance, particularly for maintenance of equipment, indicates that even with a generous allowance for the higher wage rates and material costs, the director-general expended amounts which were equivalent to those spent by the railway companies prior to Federal control. This method of comparison, however, takes no account of the important factor of relative efficiency of labour. During 1918, when so many railway men were drafted or had volunteered for military service, the percentage of inexperienced employees was abnormally large, and during 1919 the general lowering of the morale and the frequent strikes of men engaged in maintenance work led to a much lower degree of efficiency. The director-general held to the view that the Federal Control Act and the standard contract based upon it did not require him to take account of relative efficiency that his obligation ended when he had expended an amount equivalent, when properly equated for the higher wage rates, to that spent in the test period. The railway companies on the other hand insisted that if in the test period 100 man-hours cost $30 and produced 10 units of work, and if during the year 1919 the same number of man-hours cost $60 but produced, say, 8 units of work instead of 10, the spirit of the Act is not followed unless the director-general spent enough in excess of $60 to produce 10 units of work. This is the real point of difference. In the settlements made since the termination of Federal control this issue has been avoided by a policy of compromise and by lump-sum adjustments in which maintenance is but one factor, but it is probable that some of the companies which have large claims for under-maintenance pending may prefer to take the case to the courts for decision.
Too much emphasis, however, should not be placed upon the financial results of Federal control. Deficits might have been reduced or entirely avoided, and a surplus laid aside for the settlement of claims, if the 1918 advances in rates had been greater or if supplementary advances had been made in 1919 to take care of the further wage increases granted in that year. The attitude of the administration was that it made little difference whether the higher operating costs were met indirectly through taxes or were directly collected from shippers and passengers in higher rates. As between the two alternatives the administration chose the first on the ground that another rate advance would have a serious effect upon the already much disturbed business conditions, and would be made the excuse for further profiteering. Speaking in general terms it may be said that the policy of the Government in taking the railways and operating them while the war was in progress was vindicated by the favourable operating results which flowed from a centralized and unified control. On the other hand it may be said that the experience of the post-war period of Federal control was not such as to justify a peace-time policy of Government operation or ownership under a democratic form of Government which relies upon the free play of the forces of competition. The unfavourable reaction of public opinion may be traced primarily to the elimination of competition in service. The railways were finally returned in response to an overwhelming public demand that private operation be restored, and almost immediately after its restoration, the desire for competitive service caused the abandonment of practically all the innovations of unification under Government control and operation.
The Transportation (Esch-Cummins) Act of 1920.—The conditions under which the railways were returned, and the policies of public regulation as they existed in 1921 were fixed by the Transportation Act of Feb. 1920, amending the original (1887) Act to Regulate Commerce. Besides providing for the restoration of operating control to the owning companies the Act provided that during the first six months, the so-called transition period, while railway rates and wages were in process of further upward revision, the Government would continue the guaranteed rentals paid during the period of Federal control. A Railroad Labor Board was created to pass upon wage matters, and made substantial increases in July 1920. The Interstate Commerce Commission was instructed to establish rates so that on the basis of current costs and under honest, economical and efficient operation, they would yield net operating income sufficient to pay a fair rate of return upon the value of the railway properties held for and used in the service of transportation. For the first two years the fair rate of return was set at 5½%, with an extra 0.5% (6% in all) to make provision for improvements chargeable to capital accounts. This mandate to the Commission, however, applied to the railways as a whole, or as a whole in territorial groups. For the purposes of the Act the Commission later divided the railways into three general groups, the eastern, the western and the southern. The mandate did not apply to individual roads in a group. Obviously a rate scale which will yield 6% to all of the railways in a group will yield more than 6% to some and less than 6% to others. No relief is provided for the railways which earn less than 6%, but when more than 6% is earned by a railway, the excess is to be evenly divided with the Government. The railway is to hold its proportion of such excess in a reserve fund and the one-half which goes to the Government is to be held by it as a general railroad contingent fund to be administered by the Commission in assisting the weak roads by loans. The reserve fund created by a railway from its excess earnings is to be held for interest charges or dividends in lean years, but whenever that fund is more than 5% of its property value, the excess over 5% may be used for any lawful purpose.
The problem of the weak railway has been for many years the principal obstacle in the path of a satisfactory solution of the railway question. In the determination of competitive rates, for example, a scale which will give a reasonable return upon the value of a weak railway will give too much to the strong railway. Conversely, when the scale gives a reasonable return, but not more, to the strong railway, the weak one cannot live. In practice the regulating authorities have been forced to adopt a middle ground with, perhaps, a tendency to lean more toward preventing an unreasonably high return to the strong than an unreasonably low return to the weak. An attempt has been made to meet this problem in the Transportation Act which provides for the ultimate elimination of the weak railways by consolidation with the strong. The Commission is ordered to prepare and adopt a plan for the consolidation of railway properties into a limited number of systems. Such a plan is to preserve a reasonable degree of competition and to maintain so far as practicable the existing routes and channels of trade and commerce. The desiderata are that the several systems shall be so arranged that the cost of transportation as between competing systems, and as related to the values of the properties, shall be approximately the same, so that these systems can employ uniform rates in the movement of competitive traffic, and can earn, under honest and efficient management, substantially the same rate of return upon the value of their respective properties. The Commission in June 1921 was engaged upon the formulation of such a plan, but as the Act provided no way in which its recommendations might be enforced when objections were raised against its terms, there seemed likely to be long-drawn-out controversy and additional legislation before an ideal scheme of consolidation into a small number of systems of fairly equal financial strength would be made effective. The new Act enlarges the powers of the Commission over financial management and requires it to exercise a general supervision over all new issues of securities. The Railway Labour Board (consisting of nine members divided equally among representatives of management, labour and the public) is empowered to fix wages and working rules.
The foregoing outline mentions most of the important new features in the 1926 legislation amending the original Act to Regulate Commerce and the amendments up to 1920. The fundamental provisions of the original Act remained in force in 1921 and had been extended or otherwise strengthened. Briefly, the Commission is required to see that rates and charges are just and reasonable; to prescribe the rules under which rates may become effective; to prevent unfair discriminations between shippers, carriers or localities; to prevent, except when specifically authorized, the charging of a higher rate for a short haul than for a longer haul over the same route in the same direction; to prevent the pooling of freight or earnings; to require complete reports from carriers in prescribed form; and to prescribe and enforce uniform rules for accounting and for compilation of statistics of operation.
In addition to the Federal legislation just described, each state exercises its powers of regulating intrastate traffic and of exercising what may be termed “police powers” over railway management and service within its own borders. The line between Federal and State regulation is not clearly drawn, and controversies between the two authorities have been frequent. On the whole, the tendency of court decisions during the decade 1910-20 was toward according greater powers to the Federal commission and less power to the State commissions, as it has been shown that the states, when exercising control over intrastate rates and service, may indirectly discriminate against interstate traffic and service.
In addition to the changes in the Act to regulate commerce, new legislation was enacted during the decade which strengthened and extended the laws pertaining to safety appliances and accident prevention. These laws govern certain features of design and maintenance of locomotives and cars and of operating methods in train service. For example, the use of high-power headlights has been made compulsory, and the requirements as to boiler inspection and the general condition of locomotives have been made more rigid. The scope of the laws governing maximum hours of service was enlarged. The eight-hour basic day, prescribed for train service employees by the Adamson Act, passed by Congress in 1916, was extended during the period of Federal control to apply to practically all classes of railroad employees.
Statistics.—The salient features of mileage, investment, income and transportation production in ton-miles and passenger-miles, are shown in Table I. compiled by the Bureau of Railway Economics, Washington, D.C., under date of March 21 1921. The figures apply only to Class I. railways, i.e. those which have operating revenues in excess of $1,000,000 per year. These railways comprise about 92% of the total main-track m., about 95% of the total capitalization, and they earn about 97% of the total operating revenues.
In interpreting the figures in Table I. it is necessary to bear in mind that the results of 1917-20 were very much affected by war conditions and by Federal operation of railways from Jan. 1 1918 until March 1 1920. The period was one of abnormally high operating expenses and of greatly diminished net income, notwithstanding the large operating revenues. Obviously a continuation of the low income of 1919 and 1920 would cause universal railway bankruptcy. The aim of the Transportation Act of 1920 was to restore the pre-war earning power, to enable the railways to give better service, and to provide revenues which with reestablished credit would permit expansion and improvements in facilities and equipment.
Details for 1917.—Instead of figures for a later year, those of 1917 are selected to give an indication of the normal characteristics—financial, operating and public service of American railways.
On Dec. 31 1917 the total route mileage of railways of all classes was 253,626 miles. This was equivalent to 8.53 m. of railway for each 100 sq. m. of territory, or 24.39 m. for each 10,000 inhabitants. The relation of route mileage to track mileage (for Class I. roads only) is shown in Table II.:—
Table II. Route and Track Mileage. Class I. Roads,
Dec. 31 1917
of route miles
|First main track (route m.)||
|Second main track|
|Third main track|
|All other main tracks|
|Yard tracks and sidings|
|Total all tracks|
The total route m. for railways of all classes in 1917 was owned by 1,874 separate companies. Of these, 186 were railways of Class I. with route mileage as shown in Table II., made up of 178,707 m. owned and 53,990 route m. operated under lease or similar arrangement. The average route mileage operated per Class I. road was 1,251 miles. For railways of Classes II. (those with operating revenue $100,000 to $1,000,000 per year) and III. (those with operating revenues below $100,000 per year, including switching and terminal railways) the average was 44 miles. The greater part of the mileage owned by the large number of small companies is leased to and operated by Class I. roads.
Finances.—The total railway capital outstanding Dec. 31 1917 was $21,249,357,241. This, however, included certain duplications in securities of one company held by another company and used by the second company as the basis for additional securities. Eliminating the intercorporate holdings and other duplications, the net capitalization on that date was $16,401,786,017, or $66,699 per route mile. Of this net capitalization, $39,930 per route m., or 59.9% of the total, was in capital stock, and $26,769, or 40.1% of the total, was in bonds or other forms of funded debt. In that year the average dividend paid on all stock was 4.24%, but no dividends whatever were paid on 36.7% of the stock. The average dividend rate on the dividend paying stock alone was 6.81 per cent. The average rate of interest paid upon funded debt may be estimated as about 4 per cent. The number of stockholders was approximately 670,000 and the number of bondholders about 300,000.
Table III. gives the income account of all railways considered as one system, including switching and terminal companies, for the year ended Dec. 31 1917:—
Table III. Income Account, All Railways. 1917
|Railway operating revenues||$4,178,784,652|
|Railway operating expenses||2,956,770,809|
|Net revenue from railway operations||1,222,013,843|
|Railway tax accruals||227,301,093|
|Uncollectable railway revenues||711,879|
|Railway operating income||994,000,871|
|Equipment and joint facility rents|
|Net railway operating income||967,427,098|
|Other income (non-operating)||101,808,148|
|Net interest charges||475,646,748|
|Other deductions from gross income||24,371,700|
|Net dividends (including dividend|
|appropriations from surplus)||293,291,805|
|Income above dividends||75,924,993|
Of the total operating revenues about 70% came from the transportation of freight and about 25% from passenger-train service including mail and express. The remaining 5% was miscellaneous operating revenue. The operating expenses were divided as follows: maintenance of way and structures, 15.6%; maintenance of equipment, 24.2%; traffic (solicitation, advertising, etc.), 2.3%; transportation (operation of stations, yards, terminals and trains), 53.6%; general expenses, 3.4%; and miscellaneous, 0.9%.
On Dec. 31 1917 the equipment owned by railways of all classes was as follows:—
|Freight train cars||2,408,518|
|Passenger train cars||55,939|
|Company service cars||103,916|
|Steamboats and tugboats||411|
|Barges, car-floats and canal boats||1,868|
|Other floating equipment||163|
The item “other locomotives” is made up almost entirely of electric locomotives. “Freight train cars” do not include private freight cars (numbering about 80,000) owned by meat-packers, oil companies and similar industrial concerns. “Passenger train cars” do not include parlour and sleeping cars owned by the Pullman Co., of which there were 7,706. “Company service cars” include ballast cars, construction cars, wrecking cranes, etc.
The average number of employees during the year 1917 for all railways was 1,833,732. For Class I. railways only, the number was 1,732,876, divided as follows:—
|General and divisional officers||18,446||1.1|
|Clerks, messengers and attendants||192,569||11.1|
|Maintenance of way employees||448,720||25.9|
|Maintenance of equipment employees||388,837||22.4|
|Traffic department employees||8,333||.5|
|Dispatchers and telegraphers||67,455||3.9|
|Yard and engine-house employees||183,877||10.6|
|All other employees||65,141||3.8|
The subsequent application, during Federal control, of the eight-hour day (instead of the former basis of 10 hours for a large proportion of employees) to practically all of the classified employees had the effect of increasing the number of men required to do a given number of hours of work. At the end of Federal control the total was about 2,000,000 employees, not including conductors and porters on Pullman cars employed by the Pullman Company.
Construction and Equipment.—The tendency in the decade 1910-20 was toward the use of heavier rails. On heavy traffic lines, using the most powerful locomotives, rails weighing 100 lb. per yd. were being replaced by rails weighing 105 to 110 lb. On other lines which had used 85-lb. rails, the tendency was toward 100-lb. rails. Greater attention was paid to the relative proportions of the chemical elements in steel and the mills were turning out rails of improved design and of greater strength and wearing qualities. The marked development in the weight of locomotives and cars placed much greater strains on the track superstructure and roadbed. In 1921 American Railway Engineering Association standards for depth of ballast had not been changed recently, but some of the heavy traffic roads were increasing the amount of ballast from 12 in. to 20 in. below the ties. The experiments in the use of steel and concrete ties as substitutes for wood ties (sleepers) had not given satisfactory results under the heavy axle loads of American equipment, and there was little inclination to use substitutes for wood, notwithstanding the marked depletion of the lumber supply. There was, however, a more general use of preservatives in treating ties chemically to strengthen their resistance to decay, and a more general use of tie plates, between the base of the rail and the top of the tie, to lessen the mechanical wear on the tie. The screw spike, in place of the cut spike, for fastening the rails to the ties, was having greater use, but was not common. The heavier axle loads required a general strengthening of bridges, and throughout the whole field of maintenance engineering the adoption of higher standards during the decade was noticeable.
There was a marked development in the art of signalling. The use of electrically controlled automatic block signals is distinctively an American characteristic. There was a steady tendency to substitute automatic block signals for the older type which are manually operated. In 1911 there were about 29,000 m. of main track equipped with automatic block signals. In 1920 the mileage so equipped was over 61,000 miles. The use of these modern signals not only increases the safety of train operation but it also has the effect of increasing the capacity per mile. In the interest of safety there was a popular demand that block signalling should be made compulsory by law, and the Interstate Commerce Commission has repeatedly recommended legislation which would require the railways to adopt an annual programme under which all railways would eventually be completely equipped with block signals. Congress, however, had not by Jan. 1921 legislated on the subject, mainly because of the difficulty of formulating a plan which would fit the varying needs of roads with differing degrees of traffic density, and because of the heavy financial burden which compulsory block signalling would place upon the railways. There was also a widespread demand for the adoption of a device of some kind which would automatically stop the train when the engineman failed to observe the signal and ran past one which was in the stop position, but Congress appears to take the position that it is more important first to extend the installation of block signals before insisting upon the expensive supplementary safeguard of the automatic stop.
In 1910 the average weight of all locomotives, exclusive of tender, was about 73 short tons. In 1920 it was about 90 short tons. The tendency was steadily toward the use of more powerful locomotives and the retirement of the lighter types. The locomotives ordered in 1920 weigh from 100 to 200 tons, with a few of the Mallet compound type of much greater weight. The use of steel passenger cars calls for larger locomotives in that class of service, and the American policy, consistently followed for years, of increasing the freight-train load, required the use of more powerful locomotives in freight service. The average freight-train load, in tons of freight, grew from less than 400 tons in 1910 to more than 700 tons in 1920. Not all of this increase is to be attributed to the heavier locomotive. Reductions in grades and curvature have made heavier trains possible. There was also a general improvement in the technique of tonnage ratings for locomotives. In addition there was a more general use of the superheater on locomotives. This device reduced the loss in steam pressure between the boiler and the cylinder and increased the drawbar pull. The use of automatic stokers on the most modern type of freight locomotive removed one limiting point: the capacity of the fireman in shovelling coal into the fire box. A recent device for increasing locomotive capacity is known as the “booster.” It is a small auxiliary engine geared to the trailing axle (on locomotives which have a pair of wheels not connected with the main drivers) and may be used in starting the train or in giving an extra drawbar pull on the limiting grades.
While not so marked as in the case of the locomotive, there has been a steady increase in the weight and capacity of freight cars, particularly in those designed to carry coal, ore, or steel or iron products. The standard coal car of 1921 had a capacity of 100,000 lb., and in some cases cars of double that capacity were used locally on the owning road in coal or ore traffic. There was no appreciable increase in the capacity of box cars as the commercial standards do not call for larger units than 60,000 to 80,000 lb. per car.
Reference has already been made to the more general use of steel in passenger-car construction. Virtually no new wooden cars were built for passenger service after 1915. On Jan. 1 1911 the passenger-train equipment consisted of 50,201 wooden cars, 1,636 of steel underframe construction, and 3,133 of all-steel construction. On Jan. 1 1919 the numbers were: wood, 36,810; steel underframe, 8,805; all-steel, 18,652. The use of the old wooden cars was generally confined to local trains and branch lines.
Accidents.—A comparison of the latest available complete accident statistics (in Bulletin 74, Interstate Commerce Commission, published in Nov. 1920) with the statistics for 1907 and 1908 (see 22.832) indicate a gratifying improvement. The casualties in 1919 were less than those of 1907 or 1908, notwithstanding the fact that the volume of traffic in 1919 was nearly double that of 1907. The improvement may be attributed to several factors, but it is difficult to list them in the order of their importance as the influence of any one factor cannot be measured separately. Among them are (1) higher standards of construction and maintenance of way, structures and equipment; (2) enforcement of laws relating to safety appliances, boiler inspection, and hours of service; (3) extension of block signalling; (4) other improvements in operating methods; (5) the psychological effect of the “Safety First” movement, begun about 1910 (a nation-wide movement to interest railway employees in accident prevention); and (6) the publication of results of investigations made by the Interstate Commerce Commission in specific accidents. The data contained in the appended table were taken from Bulletin 74.
Casualties to Persons in Train Accidents and Train Service Accidents
|Killed Injured||Killed Injured||Killed Injured|
|In train accidents||110||4,549||286||4,655||131||4,460|
|In train service accidents||191||3,598||233||3,427||212||3,914|
|Employees on duty:—|
|In train accidents||359||2,955||547||4,179||439||4,214|
|In train service accidents||1,334||33,325||2,212||42,782||2,177||48,022|
|Total employees on duty||1,693||36,280||2,759||46,961||2,616||52,236|
|Employees not on duty:—Total||66||321||169||595||165||544|
|Other persons, not trespassing:—|
|In train accidents||9||61||117||433||109||473|
|In train service accidents*||1,873||5,134||1,878||5,268||2,091||5,514|
|Total other persons||1,882||5,195||1,995||5,701||2,200||5,987|
|In train accidents||32||63||39||67||68||76|
|In train service accidents||2,521||2,595||3,216||2,738||4,175||3,753|
*Includes persons struck by trains at highway crossings.
The analysis of train accidents in 1919 shows that the total number was 25,596, divided as follows:—collisions, 6,904; derailments, 15,897; locomotive accidents, 674; and miscellaneous, 2,121. These figures include all train accidents, with and without personal injury. Collisions caused the death of 238 persons and the injury of 3,931. The casualties in derailments were 175 deaths and 2,979 injuries. The casualties in locomotive and miscellaneous accidents were relatively few.
- (W. J. C.)
Table I. Mileage, Investment, Revenues, Expenses, 1911-20, Inclusive, of Class I. Railways
|Fiscal Years ended June 30.||Calendar Years ended December 31.|
|Miles of track operated—main track||244,300.77||254,821.20||259,139.53||262,424.88||264,920.40||265,802.97||267,574.12||269,174.54||270,556.62||*|
|Property investment—Class I. roads and their non-operating subsidiaries (investment in road & equipment, exclusive of materials and supplies)||$14,246,167,475||$15,284,763,489||$15,842,127,273||$16,257,146,632||$16,688,440,056||$16,884,440,038||$17,762,152,127||$18,213,629,613||$18,474,197,914||*|
|Total operating revenues||2,752,497,297||3,108,361,215||3,031,326,963||2,871,563,047||3,381,597,866||3,596,865,766||4,014,142,748||4,880,953,480||5,143,589,998||a$6,171,493,301|
|Total operating expenses||1,902,994,333||2,173,463,563||2,203,423,812||2,021,160,614||2,210,892,786||2,357,398,412||2,829,325,124||3,982,068,197||4,398,408,414||5,768,720,013|
|Net operating revenue||849,502,964||934,897,652||827,903,151||850,402,433||1,170,705,080||1,239,467,354||1,184,817,623||898,885,283||745,181,584||402,773,288|
|Railway tax accruals||98,626,848||118,386,859||135,572,579||133,276,330||145,517,034||157,113,372||213,920,095||223,175,379||232,704,545||278,868,668|
|Uncollectable railway revenues||—||—||—||649,917||806,747||797,486||700,090||613,821||915,300||1,224,980|
|Railway operating income||750,876,116||816,510,793||692,330,572||716,476,186||1,024,381,299||1,081,556,496||970,197,438||675,096,083||511,561,739||122,679,640|
|Hire of equipment—net balance||Dr. 15,577,534||Dr. 15,611,817||Dr. 17,686,287||Dr. 19,128,943||Dr. 23,564,582||Dr. 23,767,262||Dr. 17,999,098||Dr. 15,676,577||Dr. 33,451,523||Dr. 33,086,318|
|Joint facility rents—net balance||Dr. 11,113,874||Dr. 13,288,541||Dr. 13,626,138||Dr. 14,242,410||Dr. 15,943,758||Dr. 17,704,717||Dr. 18,129,570||Dr. 20,850,903||Dr. 23,119,388||Dr. 27,664,696|
|Net railway operating income (Stand. ret. basis)||724,184,708||787,610,435||661,018,147||683,104,833||984,872,959||1,040,084,517||934,068,770||638,568,603||454,990,828||61,928,626|
|Rate of return on investment—%||5.08||5.15||4.17||4.20||5.90||6.16||5.26||3.51||2.46||b 0.34|
|Other income (including miscel. operating income)||272,638,887||241,629,540||243,768,847||186,232,946||192,709,534||210,066,879||233,252,283||309,067,492||265,261,955||*|
|Rent for leased roads||124,960,314||133,018,154||122,592,248||122,528,657||139,215,095||158,377,958||132,082,177||126,977,239||123,276,609||*|
|Interest on funded debt||345,843,570||368,134,889||373,296,354||387,029,566||399,348,125||406,667,567||403,305,438||396,465,997||404,430,691||*|
|Interest on unfunded debt||18,116,228||23,045,616||35,958,511||27,509,366||15,066,312||14,854,425||15,704,857||29,933,496||44,597,880||*|
|Net income available for dividends, etc.||489,035,309||485,745,995||350,721,618||316,156,078||603,222,893||646,880,673||593,030,606||268,661,350||Def. 55,289,216||*|
|Total dividends declared out of income and surplus||397,068,724||322,300,406||376,098,785||259,809,520||281,936,372||306,176,937||320,395,779||275,336,547||278,386,909||*|
* Not available in 1921.
a Total operating revenues for 1920 includes approximately $55,000,000 of back mail pay collected in 1920 but applicable to services rendered in 1918 and 1919.
b Computed on investment of 1919.
Note: Net Railway operating income as shown above for 1918, 1919, and 1920 represents the actual earnings from operation of the Class I. railways. The “standard return” for these roads (i.e. the net operating income after collecting rental from the U.S. Government) amounted to approximately $898,500,309 for the years 1918 and 1919, and for 1920 amounted to approximately $825,000,000, taking into account two months of Government operation, six months of Government guarantee and four months of private operation.
- Includes estimated value of services rendered by railways to the Government free of charge, as shown in White Paper, Cmd. 402, apart from value of services rendered to the Government in respect of steamboats, canals, docks, hotels, etc., estimated at from £10,000,000 to £15,000,000 for the war period.