Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/213

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

MARCH, 1909




THE ELECTRIC OPERATION OF STEAM RAILWAYS
By Professor J. B. WHITEHEAD

THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

THE possibility of operating all classes of steam railway service by electricity has been demonstrated beyond question. Heavier trains may be hauled at higher speeds and with greater comfort to passengers, and electric locomotives may be built which surpass in power any steam locomotive which may be constructed. Two of the most important railway systems entering New York city are now operated entirely by electricity for distances between twenty and thirty miles from Grand Central Station. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company has recently closed contracts to the extent of $5,000,000 for the electric operation of its tracks between Newark, N. J., through the Hudson and East River tunnels, to Jamaica, L. I., where it will join the tracks of the Long Island Railroad, which for some time has been operated electrically.

The total steam railway mileage in this country aggregates about 220,000 miles of line but notwithstanding the important projects mentioned above, and others of less note, it remains a fact that only about 1,000 miles of railroad, formerly operated by steam, have been transformed to the use of electricity as motive power. The question then arises as to what conditions have started the present development and as to whether this beginning will extend itself in general degree to the large trunk line systems of the country. It is not sufficient for the engineer of to-day to demonstrate the physical possibilities of a project, but he must go further, and justify it on the grounds of business advisability and economy. If, then, it be asked why have steam railroads begun to substitute electricity as motive power, the answer is to be found in two broad reasons. The first of these is, that in some in-