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The Utah supreme court held, in Nichols against the Oregon Short Line Company (66 Pac. Rep. 768), that where a shipper ordered cars of the railway company to be delivered at a certain date, the company's action in filling subsequent orders before the plaintiff's was unlawful discrimination.


The gratifying results of the law of 1893, requiring the use of automatic car couplers and of power brakes, were spoken of in the Fifteenth Annual Report. The benefits of the law have been increasingly evident during the past year. In particular, the number of persons killed and injured in coupling and uncoupling cars during the year ending June 30, 1902—the first entire year reported since the law went into full effect-shows a diminution as compared with 1893, the year in which the law was passed, of 68 per cent in the number killed and 81 per cent in the number injured.

In 1893 the number of casualties from this cause was 11,710 (433 killed, 11,277 injured); in 1902 it was 2,256 (143 killed, 2,113 injured); showing a reduction of 9,454. And it is to be borne in mind that the number of men engaged in this work is much larger now than it was in 1893. Nearly complete figures for 1902 indicate the total number of employees in that fiscal year to have been approximately 1,195,371, and this represents an increase of 321,769 or 36.83 per cent, as compared with the number employed in 1893.

But casualties continue to occur, and their number is such as to call for continued and earnest efforts to eliminate their causes. We have the automatic coupler, but there are dangers against which it does not fully provide. Cars are frequently moved while not in complete run. ning order. This is practically unavoidable, and it is the source of some of the casualties that appear in current reports. Much the larger part of the casualties are due, however, to causes which are avoidable. . There is much complaint among trainmen that some couplers, being of bad material or workmanship, do not work properly; cars coming together do not couple except by a somewhat violent impact. This leads to breakage and to delays and annoyances. The men go between the cars to prepare for a second trial (when the first is unsuccessful) and sometimes are crushed or otherwise injured. This is a particularly insidious danger, since when one car is approaching another the danger to the man walking ahead of the moving car increases more rapidly as the space is diminished, and the danger from obscure difficulties, which the man while walking along, perhaps backward, does not clearly perceive, is greater than that from a pronounced defect which is understood at sight. The uncoupling levers or rods and their connections are a source of many injuries--probably from 20 to 30 per cent of all

a See Appendix for Table B, showing casualties to passengers and employees.


coupling accidents now reported. The fault with these parts is attributable to both bad design and imperfect maintenance. A perfect uncoupling device is as clearly required by the statute as is the automatic coupler; but the uncoupling requirement is not nearly so well complied with.

The report of the chief inspector, which appears as an Appendix to this report, gives a mass of interesting data concerning the condition of couplers on the freight cars of the country. He shows that during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1902, the 10 inspectors employed by the Commission examined 161,371 cars, as compared with 98,624 examined by the smaller number of inspectors during the year before. The number of cars on which one or more defects were found was 42,718, as compared with 19,462; the percentage found defective was 26.47, as compared with 19.73. This condition is due, not to worse conditions, but to the more systematic inspection of air brakes, the inspections of the earlier year having been devoted more particularly to couplers. The principal features in which the condition of couplers shows improvement are the increased use of solid knuckles and a diminution in the number of uncoupling rods incorrectly applied. On the other hand, some of the unsatisfactory conditions are as bad as

The poor maintenance of locking pins, a vital part of every coupler, calls for criticism, the number of defects reported under this head being 559, as compared with 128 the previous year. Almost onefourth of the 559 cases were “wrong pin or block," a broken pin having been replaced by one not designed for that particular pattern of coupler.

The inspector's comments on this point deserve special attention. “Worn knuckles" is a serious defect which shows an increase, and the increase becomes the more significant when it is recalled that this is a dangerous condition which must in a large percentage of cases necessarily escape the scrutiny of the Commission's inspectors. Their inspection usually deals only with cars at rest, and in large yards such cars are in long trains, coupled together. Only in those couplers at the ends of the train—2 out of, perhaps, 50 to 200—are the contour lines sufficiently visible to be fairly examined. To detect more surely worn couplers the inspector recommends the use, both by railroad inspectors and those of the Commission, of a simple gauge, without movable parts, by which a coupler worn beyond the limit of safe service can be instantly detected. Uncoupling mechanism continues to be the most unsatisfactory feature of the coupler situation. In new cars there is, as just mentioned, an improvement in the application of this part; but of chains too short or too long, bent ievers and other faults, there is a large increase. A chain too short will uncouple a car in motion, and this is a probable cause of disastrous wrecks. In coupler defects as a whole there is great need of better records, and the inspector's report calls attention to two roads on which valuable records are kept of those

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couplers which fail in moving trains. It is regrettable to have to add that these two are the only companies, so far as known, which have undertaken this useful work.

The situation as regards the use of power brakes on freight trains has improved during the past year; but, as in the case of the automatic coupler, there is yet great need of further improvement. The percentage of air-braked cars used in trains is greater than a year ago, but it still is in a large part of the trains too small, and the use of hand brakes as the main or only means of regulating speed on steep descending grades continues on some important railroads. The letter of the statute is complied with when the engineman controls the brakes on enough cars in a train to control it and to stop it within a reasonable distance. This may be from 25 to 75 per cent of the cars, according to the condition of the brakes, the weight of the cars, braked and unbraked, and their lading, and the gradients of the line. But the statute contemplates-in spirit at least-the general use of power brakes on all the cars of every train. This full use is the prevailing practice on the railroads in the West, where air brakes have been longest used on freight trains, and it is in accordance with the teaching of those who are expert in the management of air brakes.

The great increase in the volume of freight traffic on nearly all the railroads of the country, which was noted a year ago, has continued unabated, and the burdens which this pressure of work has put upon the officers and employees in the freight-train department have hindered them from giving due attention to brakes. The Commission finds it impossible, therefore, to make any definite statement as to the improvement in the general situation. The absence of adequate and suitable inspection and testing facilities at large freight yards is still to be remarked on some of the most important railroads. Bearing in mind that the air brake is a delicate apparatus, and that therefore inspection, cleaning, and the maintenance of tight-jointed pipes are vital elements in safe and satisfactory service, this lack of yard plants calls for particular attention.

The inspectors' reports show, as they did a year ago, inefficient practice in the use of air-brake defect cards; lax discipline, permitting trains to be pulled apart when the brake hose connection bas not been separated; and very general neglect of the retaining valve.

There is one class of casualties to trainmen, those due to freight trains breaking in two, in which both the couplers and the breaks usually figure in the statement of causes. A statement has been made up from the accident reports (published in Accident Bulletin No. 4, see Appendix) showing the number of persons killed and injured in accidents due to trains parting. The parting is due to some fault in the coupler, but in compiling this information it appeared that most of the derailments which result from this cause are aggravated by the automatic action of the air brake; and this automatic action causes damage chiefly because a part of the cars in each train have no air brakes, or have air brakes which are not connected to the engine and so are not used. A regrettable circumstance in connection with this class of accidents is the almost universal neglect of careful records. Of the large number of cases of this kind reported, only a small percentage are reported as due to a specific cause. More than two-thirds of the damage done is in cases reported as due to some “cause unknown.” As mentioned in a preceding paragraph, two railroad companies have published their records of trains parted, and in both cases it is shown that the causes of accidents of this kind can in nearly every case be discovered. In view of the large aggregate of damages caused by accidents of this kind, and especially in view of the constant liability (on roads of more than one track) of disaster to a passenger train in consequence of a comparatively slight accident to a freight train on an adjacent track, there is pressing need of better records on all railroads handling a large volume of freight, for the purpose of making a more thorough study of the causes of coupler failures.

Two other features reported by the inspectors which have to do with both couplers and brakes are lack of repair material and “local agreements.” Repairs of foreign cars are made with improper material because the right material can be got only at great labor, delay, and inconvenience. By local agreements a road in possession of a defective foreign car will disclaim responsibility, claiming that the car is soon to be returned to the line from which it has just been received.

To promote a more general compliance with the spirit of the safetyappliance law in the use of air brakes, the Commission recommends the passage of an act forbidding the running of trains in which less than one-half of the cars are equipped with power brakes in operative condition and suitably connected to the engine, and empowering the Commission to issue a general order or orders requiring the use of power brakes on more that 50 per cent of the cars in a train, as and when it shall find such increased use to be practicable, the percentage to be specified in the order or orders. The belief has been expressed in some quarters that such an act should also authorize the Commission, in the case of any particular road, and after due hearing and investigation, to issue an order permitting, for a specified limited time, the running of trains with power brakes in use on less than 50 per cent of the cars therein; and that such orders should be authorized to prevent any possible hardship due to unforeseen exigencies.

The foregoing recommendation looking to the more general use of power brakes appears to be in accordance with facts and views which were brought out at the hearings before the Senate and House committees at the last session of Congress. In regard to the other features of the bill that was then considered (S. 3560, Fifty-seventh Congress), the Commission recommends as follows: That provisions relating to automatic couplers, grab irons, and the height of drawbars, be made to apply to all locomotives, tenders, cars, and similar vehicles, both those equipped in interstate commerce and those used in connection therewith (except those trains, cars, and locomotives exempted by the acts of March 2, 1893, and April 1, 1896); and that the size, length, and location of grab irons shall be prescribed by the Commission (after hearing). The requirement regarding air brakes should not take effect until ninety days after the passage of the act, and those regarding the other features not until July 1, 1903.

The status of railroad employees who are injured while coupling or uncoupling cars on which the couplers are. defective, is the subject of a decision by the United States circuit court for the northern district of Iowa in June last, (Voelker v. C. M. & St. P. R. Co., 116 Fed. Rep. 867). In this decision it was held that the act of March 2, 1893, requiring cars to be equipped with automatic couplers, applies to a car designed for interstate traffic, though at the time of complaint it may be moving without lading.

In Johnson v. Southern Pacific Company (117 Fed. Rep., 462) the eighth United States circuit court of appeals held, in August last, that the equipment of a car with automatic couplers which will couple automatically with those of the same kind is compliance with the safetyappliance act of March 2, 1893, and that the act does not require cars used in interstate commerce to be equipped with couplers which will couple automatically with cars equipped with automatic couplers of other makes. If this ruling should be upheld on appeal it would have the effect of nullifying a main object of the statute, which is to secure such uniformity in applied automatic coupling devices as to permit all cars in a train to be coupled and uncoupled without requiring men to go between the cars. The act in terms prohibits any carrier from hauling or permitting to be “hauled or used on its line any car used in moving interstate traffic not equipped with couplers coupling automatically by impact, and which can be uncoupled without the necessity of men going between the ends of the cars.” Carriers are left free by the statute to use any kind of automatic coupler they see fit, the sole and governing restriction being that, whatever kinds of coupler may be used, no cars shall be hauled or used on the line which do not couple automatically by impact, or can not be uncoupled without men going between the cars; and this applies to the hauling of all cars, whether owned by the carrier operating the road or by other carriers. Plainly, if carriers use different types of couplers which do not work automatically with each other, the law is violated when a carrier undertakes to haul two cars so equipped in the same train. This was pointed out by the Commission in its report to Congress for the year 1893, and has been generally understood and followed by carriers throughout thọ country:

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