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unable or unwilling to enforce proper discipline and prevent men from ignoring rules and disobeying signals, there is certainly great necessity for thorough investigation of railway accidents by Federal authority, so that proper remedies may be decided upon and introduced for the protection of the public.
It is impracticable to formulate a code of questions that will elicit satisfactory answers by letter in cases where the cause of a collision or derailment is complicated or obscure, or the responsibility is chargeable to two or more persons; for cross-examination is often necessary to disclose the true facts. Besides this, railroad officials often seem to think that it is their duty to withhold facts, on account of some real or supposed liability to make disclosures that will impair the railroad's rights or interests in future judicial proceedings. Some companies seem to have adopted a settled policy to give the least possible information, at all times, on any and all subjects.
The object of an investigation would be to give a clear and simple explanation of the facts and circumstances of an accident for the information of the public. The inquiry should be independent of all coroners' investigations, or criminal or civil proceedings in the courts, either State or Federal, though the Federal investigating officer should have the privilege of appearing at inquests and questioning witnesses. For his own investigation he should, of course, be authorized to employ the powers of the Federal courts to compel the attendance of persons and the production of papers, though it is not likely that such powers would often have to be exercised, as all railroad officials may be expected to cooperate willingly in examinations which are conducted: on a rational basis, and which aim only at a true explanation of the actual facts and conditions. In a few of the States railroad accidents are investigated more or less fully under State authority. A Federal inspector would not interfere with one acting for the State, and would usually cooperate with him, so that there would be no serious duplication of effort or of expense.
The need for such investigation is the greater, because the conditions which result in collisions exist all the time. The idea that an unusual volume of traffic, such as that occasioned by a world's fair, is a cause of collisions must not be allowed too much prominence. A sudden or large increase in traffic may sometimes lead to the employment of trainmen who lack proper experience in their duties, and to that extent may be looked upon as the occasion of an enlarged casualty list, but the real difficulty lies deeper than this. The errors committed by these inexperienced men are the same in kind as those committed by the experienced, and committed at times of light traffic as well as heavy. The collisions that cause deaths by the score and arouse the indignation of the whole public are due to causes which figure in the records every month. The question at issue is the abolishment of these causes without regard to whether the results be the death of a single unknown and obscure brakeman or a great catastrophe killing large numbers of passengers.
The part played by excessive hours of labor in causing railroad accidents is a question that calls for serious consideration. The bulletins published by the Commission record many accidents where the employees involved have been on duty an excessive number of hours, and many complaints from employees that they have been required to work for excessive periods of time have been brought to the attention of the Commission. There are a few roads that have stringent rules to guard against the overworking of trainmen, but in most cases the matter is left entirely to the discretion of the men and to subordinate officials immediately in charge. These subordinate officials, in their eagerness to keep traffic moving, frequently overtax the men, and in many cases the men themselves through greed for making big pay willingly remain on duty for excessive periods of time. If there is a reason for limiting the hours of labor in any employment it applies with peculiar force to the operation of railroad trains, since the safety of the traveling public is so largely dependent on the alertness and intelligence of train employees.
STATISTICS OF RAILWAYS.
PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE INCOME AND EXPENDITURES OF RAILWAYS FOR THE
YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1904.
The Commission publishes each year, to present concisely the results of railway operations, a preliminary report on the income accounts of operating roads, which is issued as soon as practicable after the close of the fiscal year and considerably in advance of the full report on railway statistics prepared by its statistician. The preliminary report for the last fiscal year includes returns received by November 30 for 690 operating companies representing an operated mileage of 209,002.04 miles, or about 99 per cent of the entire mileage that will be embraced in the complete and final report for the year.
The items mentioned in the following abstract are the principal ones contained in the preliminary report.
On the mileage stated the gross earnings of the railways for the year ending June 30, 1904, were $1,966,633,821. The gross earnings for the year ending June 30, 1903, on 205,313.54 miles of line, as shown in the final report, were $1,900,846,907. The total gross earnings for 1904 comprised earnings from the passenger service amounting to $539,428,374, or 27.43 per cent, and earnings from the freight service amounting to $1,377,684,976, or 70.06 per cent. Other earnings from miscellaneous sources, included in the grand total above stated, amounted to $49,520,471, or 2.51 per cent. The average of gross earnings from operation per mile of line was $9,410. This average exceeds
the average for 1903 by $152 and for 1902 by $785 and is larger than the corresponding average for any previous year for which the Commission has published a statistical report. Of the gross earnings per mile of line $2,581 were assignable to the passenger service and $6,592 to the freight service. The averages in the final report are not likely to vary notably from those here stated.
The operating expenses of the railways included in the preliminary report amounted to $1,332,382,948, being equivalent to an average expenditure of $6,375 per mile of line, or of $250 more per mile than was the case with respect to the year 1903. The ratio of operating expenses to earnings, as shown in this report, was 67.75 per cent. According to the final report for 1903, this item was 66.16 per cent. The net earnings of essentially the same roads, as shown by the present statement, were, for the year ending June 30, 1904, $634,250,873, and for the year 1903, $640,644,138.
The railway companies to which this advance report pertains received $100,786,684 as income from investments in the securities of railway and other corporations and from other sources of various kinds. This sum must be added to the net earnings to obtain the total income which these operating lines had at their command for corporate expenditures and reserve or surplus funds. Their total income thus was $735,037,557. The aggregate of all the deductions from income chargeable against the total income was $682,958,610. These deductions chiefly represent interest on funded debt, rents of leased lines, permanent improvements charged to income, taxes (which were $56,474,106), and dividends, as stated below. The figures presented show that the surplus resulting from the operations of those roads embraced in the preliminary report was $52,078,947. The complete report for the year ending June 30, 1903, covering both operating and leased roads, showed a surplus of $99,227,469.
According to the preliminary report under consideration, the operating companies declared dividends during the year to the amount of $184,450,446. The report shows also that the amount of dividends declared by practically the same roads during the year 1903 were $160,856,307, indicating an increase of $23,594,139 in dividends for 1904.
To prevent misunderstanding, it may be well to repeat the explanation that, as the preliminary reports are compiled from the annual returns of operating companies only, they do not include a statement of the dividends that are declared by such subsidiary companies as have leased their property to others for operation. The income of these companies, for the most part, is derived from the rents which are paid by their lessees and from which their own corporate expenditures, including dividends, are made. It seems probable that the dividends distributed by the lessor companies among their stockholders for the year 1904 were $31,000,000 or more.
FINAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1903.
Following is a concise abstract of the Sixteenth Statistical Report of the Commission, prepared by its statistician, being a report of 711 pages, covering the fiscal year ending June 30, 1903.
MILEAGE AND CLASSIFICATION OF RAILWAYS.
The total single-track railway mileage in the United States on June 30, 1903, was 207,977.22 miles, having increased 5,505.37 miles in the year ending on that date. This increase exceeds that of any previous year since 1890. The nineteen States and Territories for which an increase in mileage exceeding 100 miles is shown are Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indian Territory, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Most of the railway mileage in the country, excepting that of street lines, is covered by annual reports rendered to the Commission by the carriers.
The number of railway corporations included in the report is 2,078. Of this number 1,042 maintained operating accounts, and of these operating roads 809 were classed as independent and 233 as subsidiary. Of roads operated under lease or some other form of contract, 317 received a fixed money rental, 150 a contingent money rental, and 269 were operated under conditions not readily classified. In the course of the year railway companies owning 11,074.19 miles of line were reorganized, merged, consolidated, etc. For the year 1902 the corresponding item was 7,385.99 miles.
The length of mileage operated by receivers on June 30, 1903, was 1,185.45 miles, showing a decrease of 289.87 miles as compared with the previous year. The number of roads in the hands of receivers was the same as at the close of the previous year, 9 roads having been taken from the hands of receivers and a like number having been placed under the charge of the courts.
For the year under consideration the operated mileage pertaining to which substantially complete returns were received was 205,313.54 miles, including 5,902.87 miles of line on which trackage privileges were exercised. The aggregate length of railway mileage, including tracks of all kinds, was 283,821.52 miles, being classified as follows: Single track, 205,313.54 miles; second track, 14,681.03 miles; third track, 1,303.53 miles; fourth track, 963.36 miles; and yard track and sidings, 61,560.06 miles. Thus it appears that there was an increase of 9,626.16 miles in the aggregate length of all tracks, of which 3,339.13 miles, or 34.69 per cent, were due to the extension of yard track and sidings.
On June 30, 1903, there were in the service of the railways 43,871 locomotives, the increase being 2,646. As classified, these locomotives
were: Passenger, 10,570; freight, 25,444; switching, 7,058. There were also 799 not assigned to any class.
The total number of cars of all classes was 1,753,389, this total hay-, ing increased 113,204 during the year. The assignment of this rolling stock was: To the passenger service, 38,140 cars; to the freight service, 1,653,782 cars, the remaining 61,467 cars being those employed directly by the railways in their own service. Cars used by the railways that were owned by private companies and firms are not included in this statement. The average number of locomotives per 1,000. miles of line was 214, showing an increase of 8. The average number of cars per 1,000 miles of line was 8,540, showing an increase of 345 as compared with the previous year. The number of passenger-miles per passenger locomotive was 1,978,786, showing an increase of 70,476 miles. The number of ton-miles per freight locomotive was 6,807,942, showing an increase of 141,443 miles as compared with June 30, 1902.
The aggregate number of locomotives and cars in the service of the railways was 1,797,260. Of this number 1,462,259 were fitted with train brakes, indicating an increase during the year of 155,414, and 1,770,558 were fitted with automatic couplers, indicating an increase of 122,028. Practically all locomotives and cars in passenger service had train brakes, and of the 10,570 locomotives in that service 10,110 were fitted with automatic couplers. Only a few cars in passenger service were without automatic couplers. With respect to freight equipment it appears that most of the freight locomotives bad train brakes and 98 per cent of them automatic couplers. Of 1,653,782 cars in freight service on June 30, 1903, 1,352,123 had train brakes and 1,632,330 automatic couplers.
In the report several summaries, first presented in the report for 1902 to show the general type and efficiency of locomotives and the capacity of freight cars, have been continued. In these summaries locomotives are classified under the heads of single-expansion locomotives, four-cylinder compound locomotives, and two-cylinder compound or cross-compound locomotives. Each of these classes of locomotives is further classified according to the number of drivers and the number of pilot wheels and trailers. Freight cars are first classified as box cars, flat cars, stock cars, coal cars, tank cars, refrigerator cars, and other cars. The cars in these classes are further distributed among the requisite number of subclasses, the lowest of which, Class I, being for cars having capacities in the ten thousands of pounds; Class II for cars in the twenty thousands of pounds, the other classes, successively increasing in the same ratio.
The number of persons on the pay rolls of the railways in the United, States, as returned for June 30, 1903, was 1,312,537, or 639 per 100,