Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/841

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824
[ECONOMICS AND
RAILWAYS


Australia, 1907

Per 100
sq. miles.
Per 10,000
inhabitants.
New Zealand 2·4  30·9
Victoria 3·9  28·5
New South Wales 1·1  25·4
South Australia 0·16 53·0
Queensland 0·5  70·2
Tasmania 2·4  36·0
West Australia 0·16 54·8
Hawaiian Group 1·3  8·1
Total 0·6  35·9

Capital.—The total construction capital invested in the railways of the world in 1907 was estimated by the Archiv für Eisenbahnwesen at £8,986,150,000; the figure is necessarily incomplete, though it serves as a rough approximation. This total was divided nearly evenly between the countries of Europe and the rest of the world. The United States of America, with a capital of £3,059,800,000 invested in its railways on the 30th of June 1906, was easily ahead of every other country, and in 1908 the figure was increased to £3,443,027,685, of which £2,636,569,089 was in the hands of the public. On a route-mileage basis, however, the capital cost of the British railway system is far greater than that of any other country in the world, partly because a vast proportion of the lines are double, treble or even quadruple, partly because the safety requirements of the Board of Trade and the high standards of the original builders made actual construction very costly.

The total paid-up railway capital of the United Kingdom amounted, in 1908, to £1,310,533,212, or an average capitalization of £56,476 per route mile, though it should be noted that this total included £196,364,618 of nominal additions through “stock-splitting,” &c. Per mile of single track, the capitalization in England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, is shown in Table VIII.

Table VIII.—Paid-up Capital, 1908
  Route
Miles.
Single-
Track
Miles.
Paid-up
Capital.
Paid-up
Capital
per
Route
Mile.
Paid-up
Capital
per
Single-
Track
Mile.
England and Wales 15,999 29,748 [1] £1,080,138,674 £67,513 £36,309 [1]
Scotland 3,843 4,531 [1] 185,345,494 43,229 33,510 [1]
Ireland 3,363 4,037 45,049,044 13,396 11,159
United Kingdom 23,205 39,316 1,310,533,212 56,476 33,333

The table excludes sidings, because they cannot fairly be compared with running tracks, mile for mile. Yet the mileage of sidings in the United Kingdom amounted to 14,353 in 1908, and the cost of constructing them was probably not far from £60,000,000.

On a single-track-mile basis, the following comparison may be made between apparent capital costs in Great Britain and the United States:—

Single-Track
Mileage.
Paid-up Capital
per Mile.
United Kingdom, 1908  39,316 £33,333
United States, 1908 254,192  10,372 [2]

The figures for the United States are from the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission for the year ended 30th of June 1908, and comprise mileage of first, second, third and fourth tracks, and paid-up capital in the hands of the public only. The British figures are from the Board of Trade returns for the calendar year 1908. In comparing the figures, it should be noted that main line mileage in the Eastern states, as for example that of the Pennsylvania railroad and the New York, New Haven & Hartford, does not differ greatly in standards of safety or in unit cost from the best British construction, although improvement work in America is charged to income far more liberally than it has been in England. But there are long stretches of pine loam in the South where branch lines can be, and are, built and equipped for £2400 or less per mile, while the construction of new main line in the prairie region of the West ought not to cost more than £4000 per single-track-mile, under present conditions.

The problem of the early railway builders in the United States was to conquer the wilderness, to build an empire, and at the same time to bind the East to the West and the North to the South. There can be little doubt but that the United States would long ago have disintegrated into separate, warring republics, had they not been bound together by railways, and standards of safety were rightly subordinated to the main task to be accomplished. Conquest is not usually bloodless, whether achieved at the van of a marching column or at the head of a hastily-built railway, and the process under which the American railway system took form left the way open for a distressing record of accidents to the traveller and the railway servant. But as traffic becomes more dense, year by year, the rebuilding process is constant, and American railway lines are gradually becoming safer.

In Europe the average route-mile capital is £27,036, and Table IX. shows the differences between various countries.

Table IX.—Route-Mile Capital in Europe
Germany (1907) £22,298
France (1905) 25,285
Belgium (State railways 1906) 35,381
Italy (State railways 1906–7) 26,008
Denmark (State railways 1907–8) 10,433
Norway (1907–8) 8,027
Sweden (1905) 6,647
Russia (excluding Finland; 1905) 16,534
Finland (State railways 1907) 7,300

Statistical Study of Railway Operation.—The study of railway operation through statistics has two distinct aspects. It has been well said that statistics furnish the means by which the railway manager disciplines his property; this is the aspect of control. On the other hand, the banker, the government official and the economist use railway statistics to obtain information which may be characterized as static rather than dynamic. Both uses ultimately rest upon comparison of the observed data from a certain property with the observed data from other properties, or with predetermined standards of performance.

In general, the British working unit supplied as public information has always been the goods-train-mile and the passenger train-mile, these figures being the products of the number of trains into the number of miles they have travelled. In America, the basic units have been the ton-mile and the passenger-mile, and these figures are now required to be furnished to the Interstate Commerce Commission and to most of the state commissions as well. Both the British manager and the American manager, however, are supplied with a considerable number of daily, weekly and monthly reports, varying on different railways, which are not made public. The daily sheets usually include a summarized statement of the performance of every train on the line, covering the amount of business done, the destination of the loads, &c. For a number of years there has been a movement in Great Britain to require the inclusion of ton-mile statistics in the stated returns to the Board of Trade, but most railway managers have objected to the change on the ground that their own confidential information was already adequate for purposes of control, and that ton-mile statistics would require additional clerical force to a costly extent. The Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade, sitting in 1909 to consider railway accounting forms, while recommending ton-miles to the careful consideration of those responsible for railway working in Great Britain, considered the question of their necessity in British practice to be still open, and held that, at all events, they should not be introduced under compulsion.

References.-Annual Reports of the Interstate Commerce Commission; Poor’s Manual of Railroads (annual, New York); Statistical Abstract of the United States (annual, Washington, published by the U. S. Bureau of Statistics); A. T. Hadley, Railroad Transportation, Its History and Laws (New York, 1885); E. R. Johnson, American Railway Transportation (New York, 1908); L. G. McPherson, Railroad Freight Rates (New York, 1909); S. Daggett, Railroad Reorganization (Boston, 1908); M. L. Byers, Economics of Railway Operation (New York, 1908); E. R. Dewsnup (ed.), Railway Organization and Working (Chicago, 1906); Interstate Commerce Commission; Rate Regulation Hearings before the U.S. Senate Committee (Washington, 5 vols., 1905); and on current matters, The Official Railway Guide (monthly, New York), the Railroad Age Gazette (weekly, New York) and the Commercial and Financial Chronicle (weekly, New York).  (R. Mo.) 

Economics and Legislation

It was at one time an axiom of law and of political economy that prices should be determined by free competition. But in the development of the railway business it soon became evident


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 These figures are derived from a total. They are not exact, but may be taken as representing an approximation correct within one per cent.
  2. Dollars to pounds sterling @ 4·87.