carriages, mail carriages or travelling post offices, luggage brake vans, horse-boxes and carriage-trucks. Passenger carriages were originally modelled on the stage-coaches which they superseded, and they are often still referred to as “coaching stock.” Early examples had bodies about 15 ft. long, 6½ ft. wide and 4¾ ft. high; they weighed 3 or 4 tons, and were divided into three compartments holding six persons each, or eighteen in all.
The distinction into classes was made almost as soon as the railways began to carry passengers. Those who paid the highest fares (2½d. or 3d. a mile) were provided with covered vehicles, on the roofs of which their luggage was carried, and from the circumstance that they could book seats in advance came the term “booking office,” still commonly applied to the office where tickets are issued. Those who travelled at the cheaper rates had at the beginning to be content with open carriages having little or no protection from the weather. Gradually, however, the accommodation improved, and by the middle of the 19th century second-class passengers had begun to enjoy “good glass windows and cushions on the seat,” the fares they paid being about 2d. a mile. But though by an act of 1844 the railways were obliged to run at least one train a day over their lines, by which the fares did not exceed the “Parliamentary” rate of 1d. a mile, third-class passengers paying 1¼d. or 1½d. a mile had little consideration bestowed on their comfort, and were excluded from the fast trains till 1872, when the Midland railway admitted them to all its trains. Three years later that railway did away with second-class compartments and improved the third class to their level. This action had the effect, through the necessities of competition, of causing travellers in the cheaper classes to be better treated on other railways, and the condition of the third-class passenger was still further improved when Parliament, by the Cheap Trains Act of 1883, required the railways to provide “due and sufficient” train accommodation at fares not exceeding 1d. a mile. In the United Kingdom it is now possible to travel by every train, with very few exceptions, and in many cases to have the use of restaurant cars, for 1d. a mile or less, and the money obtained from third-class travellers forms by far the most important item in the revenue from passenger traffic. Since the Midland railway’s action in 1875 several other English companies have abandoned second-class carriages either completely or in part, and in Scotland they are entirely unknown.
On the continent of Europe there are occasionally four classes, but though the local fares are often appreciably lower than in Great Britain, only first and second class, sometimes only first class, passengers are admitted to the fastest trains, for which in addition a considerable extra fare is often required. In Hungary and Russia a zone-tariff system is in operation, whereby the charge per mile decreases progressively with the length of the journey, the traveller paying according to the number of zones he has passed through and not simply according to the distance traversed. In the United States there is in most cases nominally only one class, denominated first class, and the average fare obtained by the railways is about 1d. per mile per passenger. But the extra charges levied for the use of parlour, sleeping and other special cars, of which some of the best trains are exclusively composed, in practice constitute a differentiation of class, besides making the real cost of travelling higher than the figures just given.
In America and other countries where distances are great and passengers have to spend several days continuously in a Restaurant and sleeping cars.train sleeping and restaurant cars are almost necessity, and accordingly are to be found on most important through trains. Such cars in the United States are largely owned, not by the railway companies over whose lines they run, but by the Pullman Car Company, which receives the extra fees paid by passengers for their use. Similarly in Europe they are often the property of the International Sleeping Car Company (Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits), and the supplementary fares required from those who travel in them add materially to the cost of a journey. In the United Kingdom, where the distances are comparatively small, sleeping and dining cars must be regarded rather as luxuries; still even so, they are to be met with very frequently. The first dining car in England was run experimentally by the Great Northern railway between London and Leeds in 1879, and now such vehicles form a common feature on express trains, being available for all classes of passengers without extra charge beyond the amount payable for food. The introduction of corridor carriages, enabling passengers to walk right through the trains, greatly increased their usefulness. The first English sleeping cars made their appearance in 1873, but they were very inferior to the vehicles now employed. In the most approved type at the present time a passage runs along one side of the car, and off it open a number of transverse compartments or berths resembling ships' cabins, mostly for one person only, and each having a lavatory of its own with cold, and sometimes hot, water laid on. A charge of 7s. 6d. or 10s., according to distance, is made for each bed, in addition to the first-class fare. In the United States the standard sleeping car has a central alley, and along the sides are two tiers of berths, arranged lengthwise with the car and screened off from the alley by curtains. To some extent cars divided into separate compartments are also in use in that country. On the continent of Europe the typical sleeping car has transverse compartments with two berths, one placed above the other.
The first railway carriages in England had four wheels with two axles, and this construction is still largely employed, Passenger carriages.especially for short-distance trains. Later, when increased length became desirable, six wheels with three axles came into use; vehicles of this kind were made about 30 ft. long, and contained four compartments for first-class passengers or five for second or third class, carrying in the latter case fifty persons. Their weight was in the neighbourhood of 10 tons. In both the four-wheeled and the six-wheeled types the axles were free to rise and fall on springs through a limited range, but not to turn with respect to the body of the carriage, though the middle axle of the six-wheeled coach was allowed a certain amount of lateral play. Thus the length of the body was limited, for to increase it involved an increase in the length of the rigid wheel base, which was incompatible with smooth and safe running on curves. (On the continent of Europe, however, six-wheeled vehicles are to be found much longer than those employed in Great Britain.) This difficulty is avoided by providing the vehicles with four axles (or six in the case of the largest and heaviest), mounted in pairs (or threes) at each end in a bogie or swivel truck, which being pivoted can move relatively to the body and adapt itself to the curvature of the line. This construction was introduced into England from America about 1874, and has since been extensively adopted, being now indeed standard for main line stock. It soon led to an increase in the length of the vehicles; thus in 1885 the Midland railway had four-wheeled bogie third-class carriages with bodies 43 ft. long, holding seventy persons in seven compartments and weighing nearly 18 tons, and six wheeled bogie composite carriages, 54 ft. long and weighing 23 tons, which included 3 first-class and 4 third-class compartments, with a cupboard for luggage, and held 58 passengers. The next advance, introduced on the Great Western railway in 1892, was the adoption of corridor carriages having a passage along one side, off which the compartments open, and connected to each other by vestibules, so that it is possible to pass from one end of the train to the other. This arrangement involves a further increase of length and weight. For instance, four wheeled bogie third-class corridor carriages employed on the Midland railway at the beginning of the 20th century weighed nearly 25 tons, and had bodies measuring 50 ft.; yet they held only 36 passengers, because not only had the number of compartments been reduced to six, as compared with seven in the somewhat shorter carriage of 1885, by the introduction of a lavatory at each end, but each compartment held only 6 persons, instead of 10, owing to the narrowing of its width by the corridor.