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Railways had their origin in the tramways (q.v.) or wagon-ways which at least as early as the middle of the 16th century were used in the mineral districts of England round Newcastle for the conveyance of coal from the pits to the river Tyne for shipment. It may be supposed that originally the public roads, when worn by the cartage of the coal, were repaired by laying planks of timber at the bottom of the ruts, and that then the planks were laid on the surface of special roads or ways' formed between the collieries and the river. " The manner of the carriage," says Lord Keeper North in 1676, " is by laying rails of timber. .. exactly straight and parallel, and bulky carts are made with four rowlets fitting these rails, whereby the carriage is so easy that one horse will draw down four or five chaldrons of coals " (from io-6 to 13.2 tons). The planks were of wood, often beech, a few inches wide, and were fastened down, end to end, on logs of wood, or " sleepers," placed crosswise at intervals of two or three feet. In time it became a common practice to cover them with a thin sheathing or plating of iron, in order to add to their life; this expedient caused more wear on the wooden rollers of the wagons, and, apparently towards the middle of the 18th century, led to the introduction of iron wheels, the use of which is recorded on a wooden railway near Bath in 1734. But the iron sheathing was not strong enough to resist buckling under the passage of the loaded wagons, and to remedy this defect the plan, was tried of making the rails wholly of iron. In 1767 the Colebrookdale Iron Works cast a batch of iron rails or plates, each 3 ft. long and 4 in. broad, having at the inner side an upright ledge or flange, 3 in. high at the centre and tapering to a height of 22 in. at the ends, for the purpose of keeping the flat wheels on the track. Subsequently, to increase the strength, a similar flange was added below the rail. Wooden sleepers continued to be used, the rails being secured by spikes passing through the extremities, but about 1793 stone blocks also began to be employed--an innovation associated with the name of Benjamin Outram, who, however, apparently was not actually the first to make it. This type of rail (fig. i) was known as the plate-rail, tramway-plate or barrowway-plate - names which are preserved in the modern term " platelayer " applied to the men who lay and maintain the permanent way of a railway.

Another form of rail, distinguished as the edgerail, was first used on a line which was opened between Loughborough and Nanpantan in 1789. This line was originally designed as a " plateway " on the Outram system, but objections were raised to rails with upstanding ledges or flanges FIG. I.- being laid on the turnpike road which was crossed Plateat Loughborough on the level. In other cases Rail. this difficulty was overcome by paving or " causewaying " the road up to the level of the top of the flanges, but 1 " Another thing that is remarkable is their way-leaves; for, when men have pieces of ground between the colliery and the river, they sell leave to lead coals over their ground " (Roger North).

on this occasion William Jessop, of the Butterley Iron Works, near Derby, proposed to get over it by laying down two plates of iron, perfectly flat and level with the road but each having on its outside a groove 4 in. wide and 4 in. deep to control extra guiding wheels which were to be of somewhat larger diameter than the bearing wheels and to be affixed to them. The rest of the line was laid with what were substantially plate-rails placed on their edge instead of flat. These were cast in 3 ft. lengths, of a double-flanged section, and for the sake of strength they were " fish-bellied " or deeper in the middle than at the ends. At one end of each rail the flange spread out to form a foot which rested on a cross sleeper, being secured to the latter by a spike passing through a central hole, and above this foot the rail was so shaped as to form a socket into which was fitted the end of the next rail. Each length was thus fastened to a sleeper at one end, while at the other it was socketed into the end of its fellow. This method, however, was not found satisfactory: the projecting feet were liable to be broken off, and in 1799 or 1800 Jessop abandoned them, using instead separate cast-iron sockets or chairs, which were fastened to the sleepers and in which the rails were supported in an upright position. In the first instance he proposed to place the guiding wheels outside the bearing wheels, and the Nanpantan line was laid on this plan with a width of 5 ft. between the guide wheels; but before it was opened he decided not only to cast the guiding wheels and bearing wheels in one piece but also to put the former inside the rails, arguing that with this arrangement the edge-rails themselves would keep the wheels in position on the axles, whereas with that first contemplated fastenings would have been required for them (fig. 2). Jessop thus produced what was virtually the flanged wheel of to-day, having the flanges inside the rails,. and further, it is said, established what has become the standard gauge of the world, 4 ft. 82 in., or 5 ft. minus the width of two of his rails.

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These two systems of constructing railways - the plate-rail and the edge-rail - continued to exist side by side until well on in the 19th century. In most parts of England the plate-rail was preferred, and it was used on the Surrey iron railway, from Wandsworth to Croydon, which, sanctioned by parliament in 1801, was finished in 1803, and was the first railway available to the public on payment of tolls, previous lines having all been private and reserved exclusively for the use of their owners. In South Wales again, where in 1811 the railways in connexion with canals, collieries and iron and copper works had a total length of nearly 150 miles, the plate-way was almost universal. But in the north of England and in Scotland the edge-rail was held in greater favour, and by the third decade of the century its superiority was generally established. The manufacture of the rails themselves was gradually improved. By making them in longer lengths a reduction was effected in the number of joints - always the weakest part of the line; and another advance consisted in the substitution of wrought iron for cast iron, though that material did not gain wide adoption until after the patent for an improved method of rolling rails granted in 1820 to John Birkinshaw, of the Bedlington Ironworks, Durham. His rails were wedge-shaped in section, much wider at the top than at the bottom, with the intermediate portion or web thinner still, and he recommended that they should be made 18 ft. long, even suggesting that several of them might be welded together end to end to form considerable lengths. They were supported on sleepers by chairs at intervals of 3 ft., and were fish-bellied between the points of support. As used by George Stephenson on the Stockton & Darlington and Whitstable & Canterbury lines they weighed 28 lb per yard. On the Liverpool && Manchester railway they were usually 12 ft. or 15 ft. long and weighed 35 lb to the yard, and they were fastened by iron wedges to chairs weighing 15 or 17 lb each. The chairs were FIG. 2.- Rail.

in turn fixed to the sleepers by two iron spikes, half-round wooden cross sleepers being employed on embankments and stone blocks 20 in. square by io in. deep in cuttings. The fishbellied rails, however, were found to break near the chairs, and from 1834 they began to be replaced with parallel rails weighing 50 lb to the yard.

The next important development in rail design originated in America, which, for the few lines that had been laid up to 1830, remained content with wooden bars faced with iron. In that year Robert Livingston Stevens (1787-1856), devised for the Camden & Amboy railway a rail similar as to its top to those in use in England, but having a flat base or foot by which it was secured to the sleepers by hook-headed spikes, without chairs (fig. 3); he had to get the first lot of these rails, which were 15 ft. long and weighed 36 lb to the yard, manufactured in England, since there were then no mills in America able to roll them. This type, which is often known as the Vignoles rail, after Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875), who re-invented it in England in 1836, is in general use in America and on the continent of Europe. The bridge-rail (fig. 4) - so called because it was FIG. 3. - FlatFIG. 4. - Bridge Bottomed Rail. Rail.

first laid on bridges - was supported on continuous longitudinal sleepers and held down by bolts passing through the flanges, and was employed by I. K. Brunel on the Great Western railway, where, however, it was abandoned after the line was converted from broad to standard gauge in 1892. In the double-headed rail (fig. 5), originated by Joseph Locke in 1837, and first laid on the Grand Junction railway, the two tables were equal. This rail was more easily rolled than others, and, being reversible, was in fact two rails in one. But as it was laid in cast-iron chairs the lower table was exposed to damage under the hammering of the traffic, and thus was liable to be rendered useless as a running surface. In consequence the bull-headed rail (fig. 6) FIG. 5. - DoubleFIG. 6. - Bull Headed Rail. Headed Rail.

was evolved, in which the lower table was made of smaller size and was intended merely as a support, not as a surface to be used by the wheels. There was a waste of metal in these early rails owing to the excessive thickness of the vertical web, and subsequent improvements have consisted in adjusting the dimensions so as to combine strength with economy of metal, as well as in the substitution of steel for wrought iron (after the introduction of the Bessemer process) and in minute attention to the composition of the steel employed.

It was found, naturally, that the rails would not rest in their chairs at the joints, but were loosened and bruised at the ends by the blows of the traffic. The fish-joint was therefore devised in 1847 by W. Bridges Adams, the intention being by " fishing " the joints to convert the rails into continuous beams. In the original design two chairs were placed, one under each rail, a few inches apart, as in fig. 7. The joint was thus suspended between the two chairs, and two keys of iron, called " fishes," fitting the side channels of the rails, were driven in on each side between the chairs and the rails. In subsequent modifications the fishes were, as they continue to be, bolted to and through the rails, the sleepers being placed rather further apart and the joint being generally suspended between them.

The iron tramway or railway had been known for half a century and had come into considerable use in connexion with collieries and quarries before it was realized that for the carriage FIG. 7. - The original Fish-Joint of W. Bridges Adams.

of general merchandise it might prove a serious competitor to the canals, of which a large mileage had been constructed in Great Britain during that period. In the article on " Railways " in the Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1824, it is said: "It will appear that this species of inland carriage [railways] is principally applicable where trade is considerable and the length of conveyance short; and is chiefly useful, therefore, in transporting the mineral produce of the kingdom from the mines to the nearest land or water communication, whether sea, river or canal. Attempts have been made to bring it into more general use, but without success; and it is only in particular circumstances that navigation, with the aid either of locks or inclined planes to surmount the elevations, will not present a more convenient medium for an extended trade." It must be remembered, however, that at this time the railways were nearly all worked by horse-traction, and that the use of steam had made but little progress. Richard Trevithick, indeed, had in 1804 tried a high-pressure steam locomotive, with smooth wheels, on a plate-way near Merthyr Tydvil, but it was found more expensive than horses; John Blenkinsop in 1811 patented an engine with cogged wheel and rack-rail which was used, with commercial success, to convey coal from his Middleton colliery to Leeds; William Hedley in 1813 built two locomotives - Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly - for hauling coal from Wylam Colliery, near Newcastle; and in the following year George Stephenson's first engine, the Blucher, drew a train of eight loaded wagons, weighing 30 tons, at a speed of 4 m. an hour up a gradient of 1 in 450. But, in the words of the same article, " This application of steam has not yet arrived at such perfection as to have brought it into general use." The steam locomotive, however, and with it the railways, soon began to make rapid progress. On the Stockton & Darlington railway, which was authorized by parliament in 1821, animal power was at first proposed, but on the advice of Stephenson, its engineer, steam-engines were adopted. This line, with three branches, was over 38 m. in length, and was in the first instance laid with a single track, passing-places being provided at intervals of a quarter of a mile. At its opening, on the 27th of September 1825, a train of thirtyfour vehicles, making a gross load of about go tons, was drawn by one engine driven by Stephenson, with a signalman on horseback in advance.. The train moved off at the rate of from to to 12 m. an hour, and attained a speed of 15 m. an hour on favourable parts of the line. A train weighing 92 tons could be drawn by one engine at the rate of 5 m. an hour. The principal business of the new railway was the conveyance of minerals and goods, but from the first passengers insisted upon being carried, and on the 10th of October 1825 the company began to run a daily coach, called the " Experiment," to carry six inside, and from fifteen to twenty outside, making the journey from Darlington to Stockton and back in two hours. The fare was is., and each passenger was allowed to take baggage not exceeding 14 lb weight. The rate for carriage of merchandise was reduced from 5d. to one-fifth of a penny per ton per mile, and that of minerals from 7d. to ti-d. per ton per mile. The price of coals at Darlington fell from 18s. to 8s. 6d. a ton.

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The example of the Stockton & Darlington line was followed by the Monklands railway in Scotland, opened in 1826, and several other small lines - including the Canterbury & Whitstable, worked partly by fixed engines and partly by locomotives - quickly adopted steam traction. But the Liverpool & Manchester railway, opened in 1830, first impressed the national mind with the fact that a revolution in the methods of travelling had really taken place; and further, it was for it that the first high-speed locomotive of the modern type was invented and constructed. The directors having offered a prize of £500 for the best engine, trials were held on a finished portion of the line at Rainhill in October 1829, and three engines took part - the Rocket of George and Robert Stephenson, the Novelty of John Braithwaite and John Ericsson, and the Sanspareil of Timothy Hackworth. The last two of these engines broke down under trial, but the Rocket fulfilled the conditions and won the prize. Its two steam cylinders were 8 in. in diameter, with a stroke of 162 in., and the driving wheels, which were placed in front under the funnel, were 4 ft. 82 in. in diameter. The engine weighed 44 tons; the tender following it, 3 tons 4cwt.; and the two loaded carriages drawn by it on the trial, 9 tons i 1 cwt.: thus the weight drawn was 124 tons, and the gross total of the train 17 tons. The boiler evaporated 184 cub. ft., or 114 gals., of water an hour, and the steam pressure was 50 lb per square inch. The engine drew a train weighing 13 tons 35 m. in 48 minutes, the rate being thus nearly 44 m. an hour; subsequently it drew an average gross load of 40 tons behind the tender at 13.3 m. an hour. The Rocket possessed the three elements of efficiency of the modern locomotive - the internal water-surrounded fire-box and the multitubular flue in the boiler; the blast-pipe, by which the steam after doing its work in the cylinders was exhausted up the chimney, and thus served to increase the draught and promote the rapid combustion of the fuel; and the direct connexion of the steam cylinders, one on each side of the engine, with the two driving wheels mounted on one axle. Of these features, the blast-pipe had been employed by Trevithick on his engine of 1804, and direct driving, without intermediate gearing, had been adopted in several previous engines; but the use of a number (25) of small tubes in place of one or two large flues was an innovation which in conjunction with the blast-pipe contributed greatly to the efficiency of the engine. After the success of the Rocket, the Stephensons received orders to build seven more engines, which were of very similar design, though rather larger, being four-wheeled engines, with the two driving wheels in front and the cylinders behind; and in October 1830 they constructed a ninth engine, the Planet, also for the Liverpool & Manchester railway, which still more closely resembled the modern type, since the driving wheels were placed at the fire-box end, while the two cylinders were arranged under the smoke-box, inside the frames. The main features of the steam locomotive were thus established, and its subsequent development is chiefly a history of gradual increase in size and power, and of improvements in design, in material and in mechanical construction, tending to increased efficiency and economy of operation.

In America the development of the locomotive dates from almost the same time as in England. The earliest examples used in that country, apart from a small experimental model constructed by Peter Cooper, came from England. In 1828, on behalf of the Delaware && Hudson Canal Company, which had determined to build a line, 16 m. long, from Carbondale to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Horatio Allen ordered three locomotives from Messrs Foster & Rastrick, of Stourbridge, and one from George Stephenson. The latter, named the America, was the first to be delivered, reaching New York in January 1829, but one of the others, the Stourbridge Lion, was actually the first practical steam locomotive to run in America, which it did on the 9th of August 1829. The first American-built loccmotive, the Best Friend, of Charleston, was made at the West Point Foundry, New York, in 1830, and was put to work on the South Carolina railroad in that year. It had a vertical boiler, and was carried on four wheels all coupled, the two cylinders being placed in an inclined position and having a bore of about 6 in. with a stroke of 16 in. It is reported to have hauled 40 or 50 passengers in 4 or 5 cars at a speed of 16-21 m. an hour. After a few months of life it was blown up, its attendant, annoyed by the sound of the escaping steam, having fastened down the safety-valve. A second engine, the West Point, also built at West Point Foundry for the South Carolina railroad, differed from the Best Friend in having a horizontal boiler with 6 or 8 tubes, though in other respects it was similar. In 1831 the Baltimore & Ohio Company offered a prize of $4000 for an American engine weighing 32 tons, able to draw 15 tons at 15 m. an hour on the level: it was won by the York of Messrs Davis & Gartner in the following year. Matthias W. Baldwin, the founder of the famous Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, built his first engine, Old Ironsides, for the Philadelphia, Germantown & Morristown railroad; first tried in November 1832, it was modelled on Stephenson's Planet, and had a single pair of driving wheels at the firebox end and a pair of carrying wheels under the smoke-box. His second engine, the E. L. Miller, delivered to the South Carolina railroad in 1834, presented a feature which has remained characteristic of American locomotives - the front part was supported on a four-wheeled swivelling bogie-truck, a device, however, which had been applied to Puffing Billy in England when it was rebuilt in 1815.

The Liverpool & Manchester line achieved a success which surpassed the anticipations even of its promoters, and in consequence numerous projects were started for the construction of railways in various parts of Great Britain. In the decade following its opening nearly 2000 m. of railway were sanctioned by parliament, including the beginnings of most of the existing trunk-lines, and in 1840 the actual mileage reached 1331 m. The next decade saw the " railway mania." The amount of capital which parliament authorized railway companies to raise was about 42 millions on the average of the two years 1842-1843, 174 millions in 1844, 60 millions in 1845, and 132 millions in 1846, though this last sum was less than a quarter of the capital proposed in the schemes submitted to the Board of Trade; and the wild speculation which occurred in railway shares in 1845 contributed largely to the financial crisis of 1847. In 1850 the mileage was 6635, in 1860 it was 10,410, and in 1870 it was 15,310. The increase in the decade1860-1870was thus nearly 50%, but subsequently the rate of increase slackened, and the mileages in 1880, 1890 and 1900 were 17,935, 20,073 and 21,855. In the United States progress was more rapid, for, beginning at 2816 in 1840, the mileage reached 9015 in 1850, 30,600 in 1860, 87,801 in 1880, and 198,964 in 1900. Canada had no railway till 1853, and in South America construction did not begin till about the same time. France and Austria opened their first lines in 1828; Belgium, Germany, Russia, Italy and Holland in the succeeding decade; Switzerland and Denmark in 1844, Spain in 1848, Sweden in 1851, Norway in 1853, and Portugal in 1854; while Turkey and Greece delayed till 1860 and 1869. In Africa Egypt opened her first line (between Alexandria and Cairo) in 1856, and Cape Colony followed in 1860. In Asia the first line was that between Bombay and Tannah, opened in 1853, and in Australia Victoria began her railway system in 1854 (see also the articles on the various countries for further details about their railways).


1 Transcontinental Railways

2 Authorities

3 1870-190o

4 Since 1900

5 France

6 In train accident

7 Germany

8 Cuttings and Embankments

9 Bridges

10 Gradients

11 Rack Railways

12 Cable Railways

13 Curves

14 Gauge

15 Mono-Rail Systems

16 Points and Crossings

17 Railway Stations

18 Shunting Yards

19 § 6. Engine Resistance

20 § 9

21 § I The Boiler

22 § 13. The Steam Engine

23 § 14. Cylinder Dimensions

24 § 16. Piston Speed

25 § 17. Compound Locomotives

26 §18. The Balancing of Locomotives

27 §19. Classification

28 Passenger Train Stock

29 Goods Trains

30 Couplers

31 Brakes

Transcontinental Railways

A railway line across North America was first completed in 1869, when the Union Pacific, building from the Missouri river at Omaha (1400 m. west of New York), met the Central Pacific, which built from San Francisco eastwards, making a line 1848 m. long through a country then for the most part uninhabited. This was followed by the Southern Pacific in 1881, from San Francisco to New Orleans, 2489 miles; the Northern Pacific, from St Paul to Portland, Ore., in 1883; the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, from Kansas City to San Diego; and the Great Northern from St Paul to Seattle and New Westminster in 1893. Meanwhile the Canadian Pacific, a true transcontinental line, was built from Montreal, on Atlantic tide-water, to the Pacific at Vancouver, 2906 m. But these lines have been dwarfed since 1891 by the Siberian railway, built by the Russian government entirely across the continent of Asia from Cheliabinsk (1769 m. by rail east of St Petersburg) to Vladivostok, a distance of 4073 m., with a branch from Kharbin about Soo m. long to Dalny and Port Arthur. The main line was finished in 1902, except for a length of about 170 m. in very difficult country around the south end of Lake Baikal; this was constructed in 1904, communication being maintained in the interval by ferry-boats, which conveyed all the carriages of a train across the lake, more than 40 m., when the ice permitted. A transcontinental line was long ago undertaken across South America from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, where the continent is only about goo m. wide. The last section through the Andes was finished in 1910. (H. M. R.) General Statistics Mileage.-At the close of 1907 there were approximately 601,808 miles of railway in the world, excluding tramways. On the whole, the best statistical source for this information is the annual computation published by the Archiv fiir Eisenbahnwesen, the official organ of the Prussian Ministry of Public Works; but the figure quoted above utilizes the Board of Trade returns for the United Kingdom and the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission for the United States. In the United States and in certain other countries, a fiscal year, ending on the 30th of June or at some other irregular period, is substituted for the calendar year.

The partition of this total between the principal geographical divisions of the world is given in Table I.

Table I.-Mileage Of The World Miles. Miles.


199,371 Africa

18,516 America ... 309,974 Australia 17,766 Asia 56,181 Table II., classifying the mileage of Europe, shows that Russia has taken the lead, instead of Germany, as in former years. If the Asiatic portions of the Russian Empire were given in the same table, the total Russian mileage would appear nearly as large as that of Germany and Italy together.










Servia .




Greece .


European Turkey, Bul-

garia, Rumelia


Malta, Jersey, Isle of

Man. .


Table Ii.-Railways Of Europe In 1907 Total. 199,371 In the United States railway mileage now tends to increase at the rate of slightly over 5000 miles a year, which is about 2 ° o on the present main line mileage. In the ' eighties, the country passed through a period of competitive building, which was productive of much financial disaster. Thus, in 1882, 11,569 in. were built-an addition equivalent to more than I I % of mileage then existing-and in 1887, 12,876 m. were built. Unjustifiable railway expansion had much to do with the American commercial panics of 1884 and 1893. After the reconstruction period of the 1893 panic, however, the tendency for a number of years was to spend larger sums in bettering existing railways rather than in new extensions. The decade from 1896 until 1905, inclusive, saw huge sums spent on yards, passing tracks, grade reduction, elimination of curves, substitution of large locomotives and cars for small ones, &c. During those ten years, the route mileage increased 34,991 m., or 17%, while the mileage of second, third, fourth and yard tracks and sidings increased 32,666 m., or nearly 57%. The number of locomotives increased 12,407, or 35%, and the number of freight cars, 545,222, or 42%. Moreover, the average tractive power per locomotive and the average capacity per freight car advanced greatly in this period, although specific figures cannot be given.

Thus it may fairly be said that the railway system of the United States was reconstructed between 1896 and 1905, so far as concerns rails, sleepers, ballast and the general capacity of a given group of lines to perform work. About 1905, however, a new tendency became apparent. At that time the so-called transcontinental railways, connecting the Pacific coast of the United States with the central portions of the country, and thus with the group of railways reaching the Atlantic seaboard, consisted of five railways within the borders of the United States, and one in Canada. In Canada the Canadian Pacific was the only transcontinental line, extending from St John, on the bay of Fundy, and from Quebec, on the river St Lawrence, to Vancouver, on the strait of Georgia, the distance from St John to Vancouver being approximately 3379 m. Within the boundaries of the United States the northernmost of the transcontinental lines was the Great Northern railway, extending from a point opposite Vancouver, B.C., and from Seattle, Wash., to Duluth, on Lake Superior, and to St Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., where connexion through to Chicago was made over an allied line,. the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, owned jointly by the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific.

Next, south of the Great Northern, lay the Northern Pacific railway, starting on the west from Portland, Ore., and from Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., and extending east to Duluth, St Paul and Minneapolis by way of Helena, Mont. The Central Pacific-Union Pacific route to the coast, with its important affiliated companies, the Oregon Short Line and the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company, extended from San Francisco, Cal., and Portland, Ore., to Omaha, Neb., by way of Salt Lake City; the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe extended from San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cal., to Chicago and to Galveston, Tex.; while the Southern Pacific had. its line from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Galveston and New Orleans, running for the greater part of the distance just north of the Mexican border.

Thus it will be observed that the five great cities of the Pacific coast-Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., Portland, Ore., and San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cal.-were already well supplied with railways; but the growth of the fertile region lying west of the transcontinental divide was most attractive to American railway builders; and railways serving this district, almost all of them in trouble ten years before, were showing great increases in earnings. In 1903 the Gould lines determined to enter this Pacific territory. Hitherto the western terminus of this group of lines had been Salt Lake City, Utah; by the exceedingly bold construction of the Western Pacific from Salt Lake City to Oakland, Cal., opposite San Francisco, an additional line to the Pacific coast was provided, having low grades and being in all respects well adapted for cheap operation.

Shortly after the plans were announced for building the Western Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul also decided to extend west. Before that time the St Paul had been a great local railway, operating primarily in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois; but by the construction of a long arm from the Missouri river to Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma, it became a transcontinental line of the first importance, avoiding the mistakes of earlier railway builders by securing a line with easy gradients through the most favourable regions.

At the same time that these two extensions were being undertaken by old and well-established railways, a new company-the Kansas City, Mexico && Orient-was engaged in constructing a line almost due south-west from Kansas City, Mo., to the lower part of the gulf of California in Mexico; while an additional independent line was under construction from Denver in a north-westerly direction towards the Pacific coast. The guarantee for this activity may be illustrated by a single fact: the combined building operations, in 1908, of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Spokane and Salt Lake City exceeded the combined building operations of Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Kansas City, Boston, Baltimore and Cincinnati during the same year. San Francisco spent more in new permanent structures than Philadelphia, and Seattle spent more than Pittsburg.

Recent American railway development, viewed in its larger aspects, has thus been characterized by what may be described as the rediscovery of the Pacific coast. How far this movement will extend it is impossible to say; it is certain, however, that it will be enormously important in re-aligning trade conditions in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Table III. illustrates the railway mileage in the continent of America at the close of 1907.



United States .


Dutch Guiana


Canada .




Newfoundland .

Mexico .



Peru .


1,332 2

Central America.


Brazil .


Greater Antilles.



Lesser Antilles .




Colombia. .


Chile .


Venezuela. .




British Guiana .


Table Iii.-Railways Of America In 1907 Total. 309,974 Outside the United States and Canada, the most interesting American developments are in Mexico and Argentina, these countries Miles.


Germany 36,066 Austria-Hungary,including Bosnia and Herzegovina 25,853 GreatBritain and Ireland 23,108 France 29,717 EuropeanRussia, includ ing Finland 36,280 Italy.. 10,312 Belgium. 4,874 Holland. 2,230 Switzerland. 2,763 Spain 9,228 having nearly the same amount of railway mileage. In Mexico the national government is carrying out a consistent policy of developing its railway lines. It has succeeded in restoring the credit of these enterprises, and is proceeding with care and skill to form the lines into an efficient transportation system. In Argentina about 15% of the railways are owned and operated by the government, the balance being in the hands of private companies, largely controlled in England. Development of these lines has been primarily an extension from the large cities in the East to the agricultural districts in the West, but a change of great importance was brought about in 1910 by the completion of the last tunnel on the Argentine Transandine Railway, which serves to connect Santiago, Valparaiso and the other great cities of the west coast with Buenos Ayres, Montevideo, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and the other great cities of the east coast. Naturally the company named does not reach all of these points, but its line across the Andes supplies the indispensable link of communication, in the absence of which the east coast towns and the west coast towns have hitherto been as widely separated as if they had been located on different continents-indeed, far more widely separated in point of time and of freight charges than Great Britain and the United States.

Table IV. shows as closely as possible the railway route mileage open in Asia at the close of 1907.

Table Iv.-Railways Of Asia In 1907 Miles.

Central Russia in Asia. 2,808 Siberia and Man churia

. 5,565 China.. 4,1624,162 Korea . 688 Japan. 5,013 British India. 29,89329,893 Persia. 33 Asia Minor, Syria, Arabia and Cyprus 2,930 Portuguese East Indies 51 Total. 56,181 Although more than half of the total mileage of Asia is in British India, it is probable that the greatest proportionate gains in the near future will be in China, Siberia and Manchuria, and Central Russia in Asia. In proportion to its population China has the least railway development of any of the great countries of the world; the probability that its present commercial awakening will extend seems large, and in that case it will need a vast increase in its interior communications.

In Africa, it will be seen by Table V. that the railway mileage in the British possessions amounts to almost five-sixths of the total.





Egypt. .


British Provinces,except

Algiers and Tunis


South Africa .


Congo States .


French Provinces. .


Abyssinia .


Italian Provinces. .


British South Africa .


Portuguese Pro -

German Provinces .


vinces .


Total. 18,516 The so-called Cape-to-Cairo route shows occasional extensions, particularly in the opening up of new country in Central Africa by the Rhodesian railway system. The Rhodesian railway system in 1910 had penetrated north of Broken Hill, which is just above the fifteenth parallel of south latitude, while the Egyptian railway system had reached Gondokoro, located close to the fifth parallel of north latitude. The intervening distance, through country exceedingly unhealthy for white men, and therefore promising no traffic except raw materials, does not seem a likely field for rapid railway extension.

In Australia the increase in railway mileage in the five years ending December 31st, 1907 was about 7%-a small proportion as compared with America, Asia or Africa. The greatest increase, both relative and absolute, was in Queensland; the smallest in South Australia, which added only 24 m. during the five years. Yet the mileage open per Io,000 inhabitants in Australia, as a whole, far surpasses that in any other of the broad geographical divisions.

Table Vi.-Railways Of Australia In 1907 Miles. Miles.

New Zealand. .


Queensland .






New South Wales


West Australia .


South Australia .


Hawaiian Group .


Total 19,855 Table VII. illustrates the mileage open to the end of 1907 per loo sq. m. of territory and per 10,000 inhabitants. It will be observed that Belgium leads all the countries of the world in what may be called its railway density, with the United Kingdom a far-distant second in the list, and Persia last. In railway mileage per io,000 inhabitants, however, Queensland, in the Australian group, reports a figure much greater than any other country; while at the other end of the list Persia holds the record for isolation.

Per 100 Per 10,000

sq. miles. inhabitants.

Germany .






United Kingdom



France. .



Russia in Europe, including Finland






































Greece .




Turkey in Europe, Bulgaria, Rumelia



Malta, Jersey, Man






Table Vii.-Miles Open At The End Of 1907 Europe America, 1907 Per 100 Per 10,000 sq. miles. inhabitants.

United States



Mexico .

Colombia .















Venezuela .




British Guiana






























Asia, 1907 Per loo Per 10,000 sq. miles. inhabitants.

Central Russia in Asia. P3 3.6 Siberia and Manchuria 0-II 9.8 China 0

I 0.12 Korea. 0.8 o.68 Japan I I British India. 1.4 I.0 Ceylon.. 2.3 1.6 Persia 0.005 0.04 Asia Minor, Syria, Arabia, Cyprus 0.5 1.5 Portuguese Indies. 3.5 0'9 Malay Archipelago. 1.9 8.8 Dutch Indies o

6 0.5 Siam 2.. 0.16 o

6 Africa, 1907 Per 100 Per 10,000 sq. miles. inhabitants.

Egypt Algiers and Tunis Cape Colony .

Natal .


Transvaal.. Orange Colony Complete estimates for the balance of ' No accurate returns for Central America, Greater and Lesser Antilles and Dutch Guiana.

2 Estimates of area and population incomplete for Cochin China, Cambodia, Annam, Tonkin, Pondicherry, Malacca and Philippines.

Miles. Malay States. 636 Dutch East Indies 1,5091,509 Siam. 571 Ceylon. 561 Cochin China Cambodia Annam Tonkin 1,761 Pondicherry Malacca Philippines. Po o

8 I

3 3.5 I

I. I.8 Africa not available.

3.5 216 .

Per Too Per 10,000

sq. miles. inhabitants.

New Zealand

. 2.4 30.9




New South Wales .





South Australia













West Australia





Hawaiian Group .





Total .




12.6 15.7 42.6 Australia. 1907 Capital. - The total construction capital invested in the railways of the world in 1907 was estimated by the Archiv fur 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, 02 7, 68 5, 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.






C apital








T rack

Mile .


England and

Wales. .

1 5,999

2 9,74 81


£ 6 7,5 1 3


Scotland. .

3, 8 43

4,53 11

18 5,345,494





4, 0 37


1 3,39 6


United Kingdom


39,3 16


5 6 ,47 6


Table Viii.-Paid-Up Capital, 1908 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 Paid-up Capital Mileage. per Mile.

United Kingdom, 1908.39,316 £ 33,333 United States, 1908.254,192 10,372 2 1 he 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 1 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.


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.

Germany (1907) .



France (1905)



Belgium (State railways 1906)



Italy (State railways 1906-7)



Denmark (State railways 1907-8)


Norway (1907-8)


Sweden (1905)


Russia (excluding Finland; 1905)


Finland (State railways 1907)



Table Ix.-Route-Mile Capital In Europe 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 passengertrain-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.-A nnual 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 that no such dependence on free competition was possible, either in practice or in theory. This difficulty is not peculiar to railways; but it was in the history of railway economy and railway control that certain characteristics which are now manifesting themselves in all directions where large investments of fixed capital are involved were first brought prominently to public notice.

For a large number of those who use a railway, competition in its more obvious forms does not and cannot exist. Independent carriers cannot run trains over the same line and underbid one another in offering transportation services. It would be practically impossible for a line thus used by different carriers to be operated either with safety, or with economy, or with the advantage to the public which a centralized management affords. It is equally impossible for the majority of shippers to enjoy the competition of parallel lines. Such duplication of railways involves a waste of capital. If parallel lines compete at all points, they cause ruin to the investors. If they compete at some points and not at others, they produce a discrimination or preference with regard to rates and facilities, which builds up the competitive points at the expense of the non-competitive ones. Such partial competition, with the discrimination it involves, is liable to be worse for the public than no competition at all. It increases the tendency, already too strong, towards concentration of industrial life in large towns. It produces an uncertainty with regard to rates which prevents stability of prices, and is apt to promote the interests of the unscrupulous speculator at the expense of those whose business methods are more conservative. So marked are these evils that such partial competition is avoided by agreements between the competing lines with regard to rates, and by divisions of traffic, or pools, which shall take away the temptation to violate such rate agreements. The common law has been somewhat unfavourable to the enforcement of such agreements, and statutes in the United States, both local and national, have attempted to prohibit them; but the public advantage from their existence has been so great as to render their legal disabilities inoperative. In those parts of the continent of Europe where railways are owned and administered by state authority, the necessity for such agreements is frankly admitted.

But if rates are to be fixed by agreement, and not by competition, what principle can be recognized as a legitimate basis of railway rate-making? The first efforts at railway legislation were governed by the equal mileage principle; that is, the attempt was made to make rates proportionate to the distance. It was, however, soon seen that this was inadmissible. So much of the expense of the handling, both of freight and of passengers, was independent of the length of the journey that a mileage rate sufficiently large for short distances was unnecessarily burdensome for long ones, and was bound to destroy long-distance traffic, if the theory were consistently applied. The system has been retained in large measure in passenger business, but only because of the conflict which inevitably occurs between the authorities and the passengers with regard to the privilege of breaking and resuming a journey when passenger rates are arranged on any other plan. In freight schedules it has been completely abandoned.

A somewhat better theory of rate regulation was then framed, which divided railway expenditures into movement expense, connected

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Railways'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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