Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/877

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860
[LIGHT RAILWAYS
RAILWAYS

opened was much less in proportion to the mileage sanctioned in the cases of lines constructed on their own land than in the case of lines more of the nature of tramways. (In other countries where the mileage of main lines of railways in proportion to area and population is roughly the same as in the United Kingdom, the mileage of light railways already constructed is considerable, while many additional lines are under construction. At the end of 1903 there were 6150 m. working in France, costing on an average £4500 per mile, earning £275 per mile per annum; 3730 miles in Prussia costing £4180 per mile, earning £310 per mile per annum; 1430 m. in Belgium at £3400 per mile, earning £320 per mile per annum.) The average cost per mile in Great Britain on the basis of the prescribed estimates is £5860, but this figure does not include the cost of equipment and does not cover the whole cost of construction. According to the light railway commissioners, experience satisfied them (a) that light railways were much needed in many parts of the country and that many of the lines proposed, but not constructed, were in fact necessary to admit of the progress, and even the maintenance, of existing trade interests; and (b) that improved means of access were requisite to assist in retaining the population on the land, to counteract the remoteness of rural districts, and also, in the neighbourhood of industrial centres, to cope with the difficulties as to housing and the supply of labour. They pointed out that while during the first five years the act was in force there were 315 applications for orders, during the second five years there were only 142 applications, and that proposals for new lines had become less numerous owing to the various difficulties in carrying them to a successful completion and to the difficulty of raising the necessary capital even when part of it was provided with the aid of the state and of the local authorities. They expressed the opinion that an improvement could be effected enabling the construction of many much-needed lines by an amendment of some of the provisions of the Light Railways Act, and by a reconsideration of the conditions under which financial or other assistance should be granted to such lines by the state and by local authorities.

The so-called light railways in the United States and the British colonies have been made under the conditions peculiar to new countries. Their primary object being the development and peopling of the land, they have naturally been made as cheaply as possible; and as in such cases the cost of the land is inconsiderable, economy has been sought by the use of lighter and rougher permanent way, plant, rolling stock, &c. Such railways are not “light” in the technical sense of having been made under enactments intended to secure permanent lowness of cost as compared with standard lines. On the continent of Europe many countries have encouraged railways which are light in that sense. France began to move in' this direction in 1865, and has formulated elaborate provisions for their construction and regulation. Italy did the same in its laws in 1873, 1879, 1881, 1887 and 1889; and Germany fostered enterprise of this kind by the imperial edicts of 1875, 1878 and 1892. Holland, Hungary and Switzerland were all early in the field; and Belgium has succeeded, through the instrumentality of the semi-official Société Nationale de Chemins de For Vicinaux, started in 1885, in developing one of the most complete systems of rural railway transport in the world.

In France the lines which best correspond to British light railways are called Chemins de fer d’intérêt local. These are regulated byFrance. a decree No. 11,264 of 6th August 1881, which the Ministry of Public Works is charged to carry out. The model “form of regulation” lay’s down the scales of the drawings and the information to be shown thereon. For the first installation a single line is prescribed, but the concessionaire must provide space and be prepared to double when required. The gauge may be either 1.44 metres (4 ft. 8·7 in.), or 1 metre (3 ft. 3·37 in.), or ·75 metre (2 ft. 5·5 in.). The radius of curves for the 1·44 m. gauge must not be less than 250 metres, 100 metres for the 1 m. gauge and 50 metres for the ·75 m. gauge. A straight length of not less than 60 metres for the largest gauge and 40 metres for the smallest must be made between two curves having opposite directions. Except in special cases, gradients must not exceed 3 in 100; and between gradients in the opposite sense there must be not less than 60 metres of level for 1·44 m. and 40 metres for 1 m. and ·75 m. gauges. The position of stations and stopping-places is regulated by the council of the department. The undertaking, once approved, is regarded as a work of public utility, and the undertakers are invested with all the rights that a public department would have in the case of the carrying out of public works. At the end of the period of the concession the départment comes into possession of the road and all its fixed appurtenances, and in the last five years of the period the départment has the right to enter into possession of the line, and apply the revenue to putting it into a thorough state of repair. It has also the right to purchase the undertaking at the end of the first fifteen years, the net profits of the preceding seven years to govern the calculation of the purchase price. The maximum 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passenger fares are, per kilometre, ·067 f. (·6d.), ·050 f. (·455d.) and ·037 f. (·34d.) respectively, when the trains are run at grande vitesse, the fares including 30 kilogrammes weight of personal baggage.

In Belgium a public company under government control (“Société Nationale de Chemins de Fer Vicinaux”) does all that in FranceBelgium. forms the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and of the prefect of the department. Over an average of years it ap ears that 27% of the capital cost was found by the state, 28% by the province, 40·9% by the communes and 4·1% by private individuals. At the end of 1908 there were 2085 m. in operation, and the total mileage authorized was 2603, while the construction of a considerable further mileage was under consideration. As far as possible, these railways are laid beside roads, in preference to independent formation; the permanent way costs £977 per mile in the former as against £793 in the latter. If laid in paving, the price varies between £1108 and £2266 per mile. Through villages, and where roads have to be crossed, the line is of the usual tramway type. The line is of 1 metre gauge, with steel rails weighing 21½ kilos (42 ℔) per yard. In the towns a deeper rail is used, weighing about 60 ℔ per yard. In three lines of the Vicinaux system, in the aggregate 45 m. in length, the sharpest curves are 30 metres, 35 metres and 40 metres respectively. There are gradients of 1 in 20 and 1 in 25. The speed is limited to 30 kilometres (about 18 m.) in the country and 6 m. per hour in towns and through villages.

In Italy many railways which otherwise fulfil the conditions of a light railway are constructed with a gauge of 4 ft. 8½ in. TheItaly. weights are governed by what the railway has to carry, and the speed. Light locomotives, light rails and light rolling stock are employed. There are no bridges, except where watercourses occur. Cuttings are reduced to a minimum; and where the roads are sufficiently wide, the rails are laid on the margins. The advantage of uniformity of gauge is in the use of trucks for goods which belong to the rolling stock of the main lines. In Italy these railways are called “economic railways,” and are divided into five types. Types I., II. and III. are of 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge, type IV. of 0·95 m. and type V. of 0·70 m.; but as there is no example of type V., the classification is practically one of 1·445 m. (4 ft. 8½ in.) and one of 0—95 (3 ft. 0·5 in.). The chief difference between the first three types lies in the weight of rails and rolling stock and in the radius of the curves. The real light railway of Italy is that of type IV.: gauge, 0·95 m. (3 ft. 0·5 in.); weight of rails, 12 (26·45 ℔) to 20 (44 ℔) kilos; mean load per axle, 6 tons; minimum curve, 70 m. (229 ft. 2·6 in.) radius; width of formation, 3·50 m. (11 ft. 5·5 in.); top width of ballast, 2·10 m. (6 ft. 10·7 in.); depth of ballast under sleepers, 0·10 m. (3 ft. 9·5 in.); maximum gradient, 1 in 50; length of sleepers, 1·70 m. (5 ft. 6·92 in.); width between parapets and width of tunnels, 1 m. over width of carriage; height of tunnels, 5 m. (16 ft. 4·85 in.); locomotives, maximum weight per axle 6 tons, rigid wheel base 1·80 m. (5 ft. 10·86 in.), diameter of driving-wheels 1 m. (3 ft. 3·37 in.).

In Germany the use of light railways (Klein-bahnen) has made great strides. The gauges in use vary considerably between 4 ft.Germany. 8½ in., the standard national gauge, and 1 ft. 11¾ in., which appears to be the smallest in use. They are under the control of the Post and Telegraph department, the state issuing loans to encourage the undertakings; the authorities in the provinces and communes also give support in various ways, and under various conditions, to public bodies or private persons who desire to promote or embark in the industry. These conditions, as well as the degree of control over the construction and working of the lines, are left to the regulation of the provincial governments. Similarly, the same authorities decide for themselves the conditions under which the public roads may be used, and the precautions for public safety, all subject to the confirmation of the imperial government.

What are known as “portable railways” should be included in the same category as light railways. With a 24 in. gauge,Portable railways. lines of a portable kind can be made very handily and the cost is very much less than that of a permanently constructed light railway. The simplicity is great; they can be quickly mounted and dismounted; the correct gauge can be perfectly maintained; the sections of rails and