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net profit, after defraying all its own expenses of every kind, was thus worth securing; as it would pay something, however small, towards the interest of capital, by occupying time that would otherwise have been lost to the company.
The line of policy thus adopted has ever since been maintained by railway managers, in spite of the widely differing circumstances of the present time. Mr. Robert Stephenson, who declared that a cheap passenger tariff, with ample accommodation, was the great point for railway directors to study, and that the carriage of minerals at the freight of one-halfpenny per ton per mile was a positive robbery of the carrying company, still admitted the utility of mineral transport in rural districts. But when, as became the case in 1875, 127 trains each way ran through the Primrose Hill tunnel, instead of 28 (and that without counting the short local trains) ; when the weight of the passenger trains was increased from 40 to 257 tons, and the speed from 25 to 40 miles an hour, at the same time that the weight of the mineral trains was increased to 540 tons, and the speed reduced from 20 to 15 miles per hour, it became evident that rules which were well considered in 1840 had become wholly inapplicable. Little more than 1 minutes could elapse, on the average, between the starting of two successive trains. But in 12 minutes, while a mineral train only advances 3 miles, an express train advances 8 miles. Thus even the allowance of a waggon siding every 71 miles became inadequate, and the London and North Western Company was put to the expense of laying four lines of railway for 81 miles out of London, and three lines for 34 miles further.
It may here be remarked, as illustrating the demand on the capital, as well as on the occupation of the line, due to each description of traffic, that in 1875, out of 1,935 locomotives possessed by the London and North Western Company, only 391 were passenger engines; and of the remainder 171 were constantly employed in the process of shunting and marshalling the goods and mineral trains. Roughly stated, the capital invested in plant for the passenger traffic will thus have cost about 1,500,000l., and that for the goods and mineral traffic, 6,000,000l., or in that proportion. The gross earning of each passenger engine in 1875 was 9,5551., that of each goods or mineral engine was 2,7721. Thus the distribution of the capital in plant should be regarded in ascertaining the value of each kind of traffic.
In volume xxxviii. of the Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers ' for the session 1873-1874, is a chart, or diagram, of the working time-table of that portion of the Great Northern Railway which extends from London to Peterborough. The course of each train is drawn on this chart, the various kinds of trains being distinguished by different colours. The distance is 76 miles, which is covered by the most rapid express train in 1 hour and 25 minutes, or at the rate of I mile in 1:12 minutes, or 53•6 miles per hour. No. 612 (NO. CXXXII. N.s.)
The slowest goods train occupied 6 hours 50 minutes, being at the rate of 1 mile in 54 minutes, or IIII miles an hour.
Nineteen passenger trains occupied the line for an aggregate of 35 hours 40 minutes; 19 goods trains occupied the line for 72 hours 36 minutes; and 33 coal trains occupied the line for 140 hours 35 minutes, according to the table, during the same 24 hours. This refers to through trains alone. Thus the actual occupation of the way and stations of the company (without making any allowance for the extra length of the mineral trains) was in the ratio of 146 per cent. for passengers, 29°4 per cent. for goods, and 56 per cent. for minerals. In the year 1875 the gross earnings of this line were 425 per cent. from passengers, 36.40 from goods, and 17.10 from minerals. Thus 56 per cent. of the capital of the line was occupied in earning 17.10 per cent. of the gross profits. What share of the net profits that percentage represents the accounts do not show; but it has recently been generally admitted that the mineral traffic is a 'poor paying business.
The ruling gradient of the Great Northern Railway is one in 100. Over a line of this inclination the most economical rate of travelling is about 30 miles per hour. The goods trains are under this economy of speed, averaging a mile in 3.2 minutes. The mineral trains average a mile in 3.62 minutes. But the ratios are not uniform. They are made up of rapid running and stoppages. The fuel expenses are increased by the former, and the wages expended by the latter, so that the mineral traffic is thus conveyed at a greater cost per ton mile gross than the goods traffic. Of the passenger trains 12 require an average time of 1 hour, and 7 an average time of 2 hours 38 minutes, to run the 76 miles, being at the rates of about 50 and 29 miles an hour. The cost of the slower trains will be, per ton mile gross, close upon that of the goods trains; that of the 50 mile per hour traffic will be about 27 per cent. more than the most economical speed. At 10 miles an hour the cost per ton mile gross is half as much again as at the most economical speed.
Thus the mineral trains, weight for weight, cost rather more than the most rapid passenger traffic, on the assumption that all the charges of the line are equally divided over the gross tonnage carried over the rails. It may be added that the coaching stock of the company requires 9 miles of line for standing room, and the waggon stock requires, exclusive of the lengths of line required for sorting and shunting, 50 miles; this is exclusive of any vehicles not the property of the company.
On the London and North Western Railway, according to statements to be found in vol. xli. of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers,' the proportion of time occupied by the different descriptions of traffic over the 79 miles from London comes out at 43 per cent. for mineral trains, 34 per cent. for goods trains, and 23 per cent. for passenger trains. But this is taken from the running speeds mentioned by Mr. Findlay, and not, as in the case of the
Great Northern traffic, from the total time consumed between the termini. The correction due to the latter consideration will bring the percentage very near to that of the Great Northern traffic.
Thus, whether we regard the interest on the capital invested in plant, the earning per locomotive, or the proportion of time for which the line of a railway is occupied by the respective kinds of traffic, we find a difference of from three to four, or even five to one, in the gross earning power of the passenger, as compared with the non-passenger, traffic. In the case of the Taff Vale Railway, which
has been especially laid out for a mineral line, where the freight is not kept down by competitive sea or water carriage, where the waggons have an exceptional carrying capacity in proportion to their weight, and where the carriage of the minerals is chiefly effected by the force of gravity (the locomotives bringing back the empty waggons), a single pair of lines of way has been found inadequate to carry a mineral and merchandise traffic of under 5,000l, per mile, together with a passenger traffic of under 650l. per mile. On the other hand, the Metropolitan Railway carries a traffic of 36,600l. per mile, and the Metropolitan District one of 34,000l. in passengers alone, the former contriving to earn a further 2,000l. per mile from merchandise traffic. Thus, as far as our experience goes, the earning capacity of a passenger line is at least sevenfold that of a non-passenger line. And the Metropolitan engines earn more than 12,000l., and the Metropolitan District engines more than 10,000l. each per annum ; while in the only case in which we have the particulars of the respective earnings of non-passenger engines (with the exception of the lines worked by gravity) the annual earning does not reach 2,000l. apiece.
Comparing, then, the outcome of our English practice, the carrying capacity of a passenger line is sevenfold that of a non-passenger line, and the earning capacity of passenger plant (per 100l. of the cost) is fourfold that of non-passenger plant. This refers to gross earnings alone. We have yet to inquire into the proportionate net earnings to be derived from the different descriptions of traffic.
The main difference in the cost of conveying different descriptions of freight, whether passenger or goods, arises from the proportion of tare, or dead weight, to the paying load. There is, indeed, a considerable difference in the cost of speed, But this difference is not in favour of very low speeds. At from 25 to 35 miles per hour, on a line of easy gradients, there is but little difference in the cost per ton of the train. Above or below these rates the cost increases, being close upon the same figure at 15 and at 50 miles per hour. And if a mean speed of 20 miles per hour is made up by running at 30 miles and by waiting at intervals in the sidings, the cost will be 7 per cent. higher than that of a 30 miles per hour train. Thus, instead of diminishing expense by diminishing the speed of mineral trains below the normal most economical rate of the given line, working cost will be increased by such retardation, and that without taking into account the increase due to the demand for interest on capital.
Mr. Robert Stephenson, in his inaugural address as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, pointed out that the cost of carrying a ton of goods must always be more than that of carrying a ton of passengers, as the latter load and unload themselves, as well as carry themselves to and from the platforms of arrival and departure. Thus, excepting in the case of speeds considerably exceeding 35 miles an hour, the conveyance of a ton of loaded goods train will always at least equal, and may considerably exceed, that of the conveyance of a ton of loaded passenger train.
The average proportions of paying load and of dead weight in the mineral waggons of the four great trunk mineral carrying lines—the London and North Western, the Great Northern, the Midland, and the North Eastern- allowing for the return of the waggons empty, are 44 tons of load to 56 tons of tare.
The average proportions of paying load and dead weight in a normal passenger train on the above railways (according to the data given in the Report of the Commission on Railway Accounts' of 1877) are 16:45 tons of load, to 83.55 tons of tare, supposing each seat to be full.
The railway returns give no information as to the average proportion of full and empty seats in a passenger train. On the French railways about one seat in four is filled. If we adopt that average the passenger tare will amount to 95.89 per cent., and the net load to 4:11 per cent. In France the passenger tare is 94.5, in India 88.2, in the United States, on 3 lines, 94:5; and in New South Wales 93 per cent. of the gross load.
If we assume that at the low rate of one halfpenny per ton per mile coal can be carried on an English railway without either profit or loss, the cost of running a train of 175 tons gross weight will be 38.5d. The receipts from that train, if loaded with coal (up
( and down mileage included) will also be 38.5d. But, taking the passengers at only a penny per mile each, the earning of a passenger train of 175 tons gross weight, one quarter full, will be 108da and the net profit 69.5d. In a passenger train a little more than half full, a fare of one-sixth of a penny per passenger per mile would be the equivalent of a charge of one halfpenny per ton per mile for the carriage of minerals.
The general outcome of the above facts is to the following effect:In localities where there is no competitive water carriage, a mineral traffic may be carried on at remunerative prices, and to an amount (as far as our experience goes) of gross income pot exceeding 5,000! per mile per annum. The proportionate profit on the traffic will depend on the rate of freight that the mineral will bear.
In lines of small traffic, it may be advantageous to carry a portion of mineral or other low-paying traffic at rates that afford but a small profit, if it is certain that there is a profit honestly earned after
paying every expense contingent on the cheap traffic, including, of course, the wear and tear of rails.
When the receipts from all sources of traffic attain the figure of from 4,000l. to 5,000l. per mile per annum, the conveyance of a mixed traffic becomes a source of considerable danger, and the necessity of laying new lines to relieve the traffic begins to become apparent. The question then arises how far it is remunerative to lay additional lines, or, in other words, to construct trunk railways, for the exclusive conveyance of mineral traffic.
In regarding this part of the problem we have to bear in mind the fact that the rate at which sea-borne coal can be delivered in the Thames must always control the freight which can be demanded for railway-borne coal, and that fairly remunerative freights by rail are thus out of the question.
Then we have to remember that the capacity for gross earning on a passenger line is shown by experience to be more than seven times as much as that on a mineral line, and that the earning power of passenger rolling stock is more than three times that of mineral rolling stock, for equal amounts of capital.
As to the net profit, the details above given show that, at equal speeds, the cost of conveying a passenger is rather less than one-fifth of that of conveying a ton of minerals, supposing the carriages to be full. If they are half full, five passengers can be conveyed for the cost of two tons of minerals. Thus if the mineral freight be equal to the passenger fare, the net profit of the latter traffic will be not only two and a half times as much as that of the mineral traffic, in proportion to the gross receipts, but will be equal to from two and a half to five times the gross charge per mineral ton, less the cost of conveying that ton of minerals.
It may seem almost neglectful of the supreme importance of human life to lay so much stress on the question of the financial value of that traffic which, when mixed with passenger traffic, is so serious a cause of danger. But it is not as against safety that we would poise economy. The two elements weigh on the same side of the scale; and, human nature being what it is, we have reason to anticipate that the danger to human life involved in the conduct of a heavy mixed traffic is not less likely to be seriously contemplated, from a knowledge of the fact that-practically, if not necessarily-the same kind of traffic is decidedly hostile to the interests of the pocket.
F. R. CONDER.