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The law of compulsory equipment was passed just before the panic of , 1893. The cars in service in the United States fell from a total of 1,278,078 in 1894 to 1,270,561 in 1895. Not only were few new cars built, but the weaker, less serviceable cars already owned were left on sidings and in yards unused. In 1898 it required 1,326,174 cars to carry the traffic of the country, and since that time there have been frequent shortages reported in the matter of vehicles for transportation. This pressure for cars resulted not only in many orders for new cars, all tending toward the new system of heavier equipment (and cars are built to-day of more than four times the carrying capacity of the average of a dozen years ago), but also in pressing into service the the old and weak cars that had been practically discarded as unfit for service. Cars which might have carried their loads safely enough in a train of cars of like character became sources of weakness and danger when placed between cars having so much greaterweight and carrying capacity. The disastrous accidents to trainmen which followed are certainly not to be charged to the adoption of the automatic coupler. Another prolific source of danger and accidentis found in the transition from the link and pin to the vertical plane coupler. So long as any of the old style couplers remain in service it is necessary that the knuckle of the automatic coupler shall be weakened with a “pin hole” and a “link slot.” This will be unnecessary when only the automatic type of coupler is used; but until then the automatic coupler can not do all that is promised for it. Until such time as all of the rolling stock shall be equipped with the required safety appliances, and the same are maintained in perfect working order, the full benefits and advantages of the law can not be fully realized. It is confidently believed that the number of casualties must then be reduced to a minimum. Some carelessness will always be manifested by the employees, and fatalities and injuries resulting from that cause must continue in greater or less degree. The Commission has called the attention of the railway presidents to the defective condition of the automatic coupling attachments on their car equipment. This course was followed in regard to hand holds and standard height of drawbars, with the result that without a single prosecution the requirements of law in these respects are apparently fully obeyed. It is hoped that an equally satisfactory condition will be found to exist in regard to couplers and the uncoupling attachments when the law becomes effective in August next. With the best devised appliances for safety the making up and movement of trains will of necessity continue to be a very hazardous business. Deaths and injuries thereby caused can not be wholly avoided. Under the best possible system success in life saving must very largely depend upon the individual exercise of due caution by employees. This is a fact which can not be too constantly impressed upon each of them by any officer, representative, or organization having the best means of doing so. It is too often the case that thoughtless comment upon the care of an employee is indulged in, and jeering epithets, such as “tenderfoot.” and the like, are applied to him for acts of reasonable caution. This tends to stimulate a false conception of courage and duty, and there can be no doubt that it has resulted in the taking of many fatal and unnecessary risks. If for the false notions and resultant recklessness thus caused those closest in touch with the employees, by organization or otherwise, can substitute the higher idea of true courage in the observance of duty to themselves, those dependent upon them, and their country, in cooperating with efforts of the law for their own protection, they will render valuable service in the cause.
Perhaps this moral help is more needed by the young and inexperienced just entering the service, to fortify them against the effects of a
practice springing from notions equally as false and irrational as those that prompt the brutal practice of “hazing.” The act seeks not only to secure the fullest possible protection against accidents, but also to afford just redress for injuries.
Its closing section is as follows:
SEC. 8. That any employee of any such common carrier who may be injured by any locomotive, car, or train in use contrary to the provision of this act shall not be deemed thereby to have assumed the risk thereby occasioned, although continuing
in the employment of such carrier after the unlawful use of such locomotive, car, or train had been brought to his knowledge.
It is plain that to the extent unnecessary hazard is taken by the employees, the benefits of the law will be thrown away and its usefulness minimized. Considering the great number employed, the fact that they are constantly drawn from the inexperienced, the variety and unavoidable dangers of the service at best, the duty and necessity of intelligent individual caution can not be overestimated.
It is but just to add that taking unnecessary risks is a practice which has diminished with the length of service of the employees. Carelessness of this sort has also been greatly discouraged through membership in beneficial organizations of railway men whereby each suffers a pecuniary loss in case of injury to a fellow-member, and there has been much less criticism on this account in sections where these associations have the greatest number of members.
STATISTICS OF RAILWAYS.
FINAL REPORT For THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1898.
The following facts are taken from the Eleventh Statistical Report of the Interstate Commerce Commission, prepared by its statistician, being a report for the year ending June 30, 1898.
On June 30, 1898, the total single-track railway mileage in the United States was 186,396.32 miles, there being an increase in this mileage during the year of 1,967.85 miles. The States of Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, and Wisconsin show an increase in excess of 100 miles. The aggregate length of railway mileage, including all tracks, on the date given was 247,532.52 miles, the increase being shown as 4,088.11 miles. This aggregate mileage was distributed as follows: Single track, 186,396.32 miles; second track, 11,293.25 miles; third track, 1,009.65 miles; fourth track, 793.57 miles; yard track and sidings, 48,039.73 miles. The length of the singletrack operated mileage covered by railway reports filed with the Commission was 184,648.26 miles, which indicates that the mileage of the country is covered by reports in a substantially complete manner.
CLASSIFICATION OF RAILWAYS.
The number of railway corporations on June 30, 1898, included in the “Statistics of Railways in the United States,” was 2,047. Of this number 1,049 maintained operating accounts, 836 being classed as independent operating roads, and 213 as subsidiary operating roads. Of roads operated under lease or some other form of operating agreement 317 received a fixed money rental, 172 a contingent money rental, and 275 were operated under some form of contract or control not capable of description in a single phrase.
The operated mileage covered by mergers, reorganizations, and consolidations during the year under review was 7,220.42 miles. The corresponding figure for the previous year was 14,834.34 miles.
On June 30, 1898, there were 36,234 locomotives in the service of the railways. This number is larger by 248 than the previous year. Of the total number of locomotives reported 9,956 are classed as passenger locomotives, 20,627 as freight locomotives, and 5,234 as switching locomotives, a small number being unclassified. The total number of cars of all classes reported as in the service of railways on the date named was 1,326,174, being an increase of 28,694 as compared with June 30, 1897. Of the total number 33,595 were assigned to the passenger service and 1,248,826 to the freight service, 43,753 being assigned to the service of the railways themselves. The number of cars owned by private companies and individuals that are used by railways in transportation is not covered by reports filed with the Commission.
An inspection of the summaries which are designed to exhibit the density of equipment and the efficiency of its employment shows that during the year ending June 30, 1898, the railways in the United States used 20 locomotives and 718 cars per 100 miles of line. Referring to the country at large, it appears that 50,328 passengers were carried and 1,343,906 passenger-miles were accomplished per passenger locomotive, and 42,614 tons of freight were carried and 5,530,498 ton-miles accomplished per freight locomotive. All of these items show an increase as compared with those of the previous year.
Including under the term “equipment” both locomotives and cars, it is noted that the total equipment of railways on June 30, 1898, was 1,362,408. Of this number 641,262 were fitted with train brakes, the increase being 115,976, and 909,574 were fitted with automatic couplers, the increase in this case being 230,849. The summaries indicate that practically all of the locomotives and cars assigned to the passenger service are fitted with train brakes, and that out of a total of 9,956 locomotives assigned to this service 5,105 are fitted with automatic couplers, and 32,697 cars out of a total of 33,595 cars in the same service are also so fitted.
A corresponding statement for freight equipment is as follows: Out of a total of 20,627 locomotives assigned to the freight service 19,414 are fitted with train brakes and 6,229 with automatic couplers, but out of a total of 1,248,826 cars assigned to the freight service only 567,409 are fitted with train brakes and 851,533 with automatic couplers. The number of switching locomotives fitted with train brakes was 3,877 and the number fitted with automatic couplers was 1,199. Of the total number of cars of all classes in service on June 30, 1898, 607,786 were fitted with train brakes, the increase during the year being 115,227, and 896,813 were fitted with automatic couplers, the increase in this case being 227,876.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES.
The number of persons employed by the railways of the United States, as reported on June 30, 1898, was 874,558, which is equivalent to 474 employees per 100 miles of line. As compared with the number of employees for the previous year there was an increase of 51,082. The number of employees on June 30, 1898, was 956 in excess of the number on June 30, 1893, and 89,524 in excess of the number on June 30, 1895. The employees of railways, as reported to the Commission, are divided into 18 classes. On June 30, 1898, there were in the employ of the railways 37,939 enginemen, 38,925 firemen, 26,876 conductors, and 66,968 other trainmen. There were 47,124 switchmen, flagmen, and watchmen. A distribution of employees conforming to the four general subdivisions of operating expenses shows that the services of 32,431 employees were required for general administration, or 18 per 100 miles of line; 261,866 for maintenance of way and structures, or 142 per 100 miles of line; 171,600 for maintenance of equipment, or 93 per 100 miles of line, and 398,907 for conducting transportation, or 216 per 100 miles of line. This statement does not include 9,754 unclassified employees. The report contains a comparative statement of the average daily compensation of the different classes of employees for the seven years, 1892 to 1898. There is also given in the report a summary which shows the total amount of compensation reported as paid to the railway employees of the country during the four fiscal years ending June 30, 1895 to 1898. This summary shows that the aggregate amount of wages and salaries paid during the year ending June 30, 1898, to more than 99 per cent of the persons on the pay rolls of railways was $495,055,618, the increase, as compared with the preceding year, being $29,454,037. This amount of compensation represents 60.52 per cent of the total operating expenses of railways and 39.69 per cent of their total gross earnings, or $2,681 per mile of line.
CAPITALIZATION AND WALUATION OF RAILWAY PROPERTY.
The amount of railway capital outstanding on June 30, 1898, current liabilities not being included in the term, was $10,818,554,031. This amount, assigned to a mileage basis, represents a capital of $60,343 per mile of line. The amount of capital which existed in the form of stocks was $5,388,268,321, of which $4,269,271,714 was common stock and $1,118,996,607 was preferred stock. The amount which existed in the form of funded debt was $5,430,285,710, comprising mortgage bonds, $4,640,762,632; miscellaneous obligations, $486,977,279; income bonds, $262,194,688, and equipment trust obligations, $40,351,111. The amount of capital stock paying no dividends was $3,570,155,239, or 66.26 per cent of the total amount outstanding. The amount of funded debt, excluding equipment trust obligations, which paid no interest, was $852,402,622. Of the stock paying dividends 6.63 per cent of the total amount outstanding paid from 1 to 4 per cent; 7.15 per cent paid from 4 to 5 per cent; 7.60 per cent paid from 5 to 6 per cent; 3.69 per cent paid from 6 to 7 per cent, and 4.54 per cent paid from 7 to 8 per cent. The amount of dividends declared during the year ending June 30, 1898, was $96,152,889, which would be produced by an average rate of 5.29 per cent on stock on which some dividend was declared. The amount of mortgage bonds paying no interest was $526,124,188, or 11.34 per cent; of miscellaneous obligations, $146,116,874, or 30.01 per cent; of income bonds, $180,161,560, or 68.71 per cent. The amount of current liabilities outstanding at the close of the year named was $540,013,995, or $3,012 per mile of line.
PUBLIC SERVICE OF RAILWAYS.
The aggregate number of passengers carried during the year ending June 30, 1898, as returned in the annual reports of railways, was