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block system becomes a means of increasing the capacity of a railroad, as without it there must be an interval of time between each two trains of from five to ten minutes. With the block system this interval may be reduced one-half or more. On single-track railroads the system is also a preventive of collisions between trains moving in opposite directions toward each other, as the men or apparatus at each end of each block section, put there to protect following trains, are equally available for the protection of opposing trains. Without the block system, protection from rear collisions depends on elaborate instructions for the use of red flag (or lantern), torpedoes, and fuses, which instructions are somewhat difficult to define and, as appears from the accident records, often hard to enforce; and protection from butting collisions depends on the exercise on the part of enginemen and conductors of the most intelligent and unceasing vigilance, and on the exercise of the utmost care by the train dispatcher, who, by the use of the telegraph, regulates the movements of those trains—a large proportion of the whole--for which the time-table does not prescribe meeting points.
The 41 rear collisions before referred to as having been reported on in the accident bulletin occurred on 23 different railroads, and every one of the ten geographical groups is represented. A record for a whole year would bring many more railroads into the list. Five of the 41 cases were due to “failures in block working,” a fact which, as we have remarked in a preceding paragraph, is not to be set down to the discredit of the principle.
No statistics are available by which to make an accurate estimate of the relative safety of the block system as compared with the old or time-interval system, and, indeed, no intelligent comparison is possible without data concerning density of traffic and concerning the personnel of the operating department, which have never been gathered. Such comparisons have been made, however, by railroad managers, from limited data, and the increasing use of the block system during the past few years, which is a result of these comparisons, gives evidence of the superiority of that system.
The salient facts concerning the year's record of collisions are that hundreds of persons are killed and thousands are injured; that the losses recorded amount to three or four millions of dollars yearly, and that the personal damages and bills for freight destroyed aggregate millions more, perhaps a sum equal to that recorded; and that the errors and lapses which lead to these collisions are, in the great majority of cases, of a kind which do not occur (and practically can not occur) when trains are run under the block system. In spite of the efforts of railroad officers and the employees' associations to improve the training and discipline of the men who manage the trains, the records appear to show no decrease in the number or proportion of collisions; and there is no diminution in the number of persons killed and injured in collisions as compared with preceding years. The block system is in use on many of the double-track trunk lines and also on some singletrack lines; but there are other lines, equally important as regards the necessity of providing the best safeguards, and the owners of which are as fully able to provide them, where it is not used. No explanation is apparent for this somewhat anomalous state of things, unless it be that where the system is not used the management of the company takes a radically different view of the economy of providing the most perfect safeguards from that taken by those managements which do provide them. That the block system would be much more extensively used if it were not so costly is obvious from the practice of those companies which employ it on some of their lines but not on all, or on certain lines in busy seasons but not throughout the year. There is difficulty in formulating a rule for establishing or requiring the block system, for the same reason that it is difficult to maintain a rigid sentry line around a military camp in time of peace; the dangers to be guarded against seem too remote to demand immediate attention and energetic action.
In thus pointing out the need of the more general use of the block system, it is proper to take notice of the fact that in the use of automatic block signals there has been a remarkable increase during the past two or three years. The number of miles of railroads equipped has increased more than 25 per cent in one year. Automatic signals, as a rule, however, are used only on lines carrying a large volume of traffic; and on the very large mileage of railroads doing a smaller business, where, according to all precedents, the block system, to be adopted, if any is adopted, must be the manual system, this encouraging indication does not appear. The automatic system is costly to install, and so is looked upon by the managers of most lines of light traffic as an unwarranted luxury. The nonautomatic (“manual") is comparatively inexpensive so far as regards the installation of fixtures, but on nearly or quite every railroad not now using a block system it would require an increase of 25 per cent more or less in the force of signalmen (or telegraph operators) employed, and therefore is looked upon as expensive in operation.
The accident reports made to the Commission disclose that in numerous instances railway employees are required to be continually on duty, or voluntarily remain on duty, for such an unusual number of hours as appears to be excessive and warrants the inference that accidents more or less frequently result from that cause. The work of operating trains in which these men are engaged is exacting and requires a high degree of mental and physical vigor. If their powers of mind and body are impaired by protracted service which exceeds the limits of ordinary endurance, there is liable to be a loss of that efficiency and alertness upon which their own safety, and the safety of the
traveling public, so constantly depends. From the data compiled in Accident Bulletins 3 and 4 it appears that in seven cases of a serious character the men claimed to be at fault had fallen asleep on duty or had been constantly on duty from fifteen to twenty-five hours prior to the happening of the accident. Indeed, the large number of instances reported in which men are shown to have been at work much longer than the usual hours of employment indicates that this is a matter of actual gravity in which the public and the employees are deeply concerned. While the Commission has little information beyond the statements made in these reports, which are limited to cases where accidents have occurred, and is not prepared to make a specific recommendation, there is no doubt that the facts here referred to deserve consideration by the Congress.
As was pointed out in the last annual report of the Commission, the monthly accident reports are confined to (1) collisions, (2) derailments, and (3) casualties to employees and passengers. The statute does not authorize the inclusion in these reports of miscellaneous accidents to trains (other than collisions and derailments) or casualties to trespassers, to persons at highway crossings, or miscellaneous persons on railroad premises. These other classes of casualties are, however, included in the statistics which the railroad companies give in their annual reports, as required under the twentieth section of the act to regulate commerce. As the compilation of these accident statistics for the annual reports would be unnecessary, if the monthly reports were made to include all classes, it has been suggested that the monthly reports should be amplified to include the whole. This would make only an insignificant addition to the clerical work required in making monthly reports, and there would be no additional burden on the railroads, except the copying of the statement of each accident, for, as we may fairly assume, the requisite data are already gathered and recorded in each railroad company's office. A large majority of the principal companies have already expressed a willingness to report the additional data required on the monthly sheets, and it is hoped that favorable expressions will soon be received from all.
STATISTICS OF RAILWAYS.
[Final report for year ending June 30, 1901.]
Following is an abstract of the Fourteenth Statistical Report of the interstate Commerce Commission, prepared by its statistician, being a report for the year ending June 30, 1901:
MILEAGE OF RAILWAYS.
On June 30, 1901, the total single-track railway mileage in the United States was 197,237.44 miles, this mileage having increased during the year 3,891.66 miles. This increase is greater than that for any other year since 1893, excepting 1900, when it was 4,051.12 miles. The 16 States and Territories for which an increase in mileage in excess of 100 miles is shown are as follows: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Indian Territory, and Oklahoma.
Nearly all of the railway mileage of the country is covered by railway reports received by the Commission. For the year under consideration the operated mileage in respect to which detailed returns were made was 195,561.92 miles. This mileage includes 5,606.08 miles of line on which trackage privileges were granted. Including tracks of all kinds the aggregate length of railway mileage was 265,352.29 miles, which was classified as follows: Single track, 195,561.92 miles; second track, 12,845.42 miles; third track, 1,153.96 miles; fourth track, 876.13 miles, and yard track and sidings, 54,914.86 miles. From these figures it is noted that there was an increase of 6,567.99 miles in the aggregate length of all tracks, of which 2,761.84 miles, or 42.05 per cent, were due to the increase in yard track and sidings.
CLASSIFICATION OF RAILWAYS.
The number of the railway corporations included in the report was 2,057. Of this number, 1,015 maintained operating accounts, 803 being classed as independent operating roads and 212 as subsidiary roads. Of roads operated under lease or some other form of contract 328 received a fixed money rental, 173 a contingent money rental, and 272 were operated under some other form of agreement or control. During the year railway companies owning 8,969.55 miles of line were reorganized, merged, consolidated, etc. The corresponding item for 1900 was 14,318.13 miles.
On June 30, 1901, there were 39,584 locomotives in the service of the railways, which was 1,921 more than were in use the preceding year. Of the total number of locomotives, 10,184 are classed as passenger locomotives, 22,839 as freight locomotives, 5,959 as switching locomotives, the remainder, 602, not being classified.
The total number of cars of all classes in the service of the railways on the date stated was 1,550,833, there having been an increase of 99,995 in rolling stock of this class. Of the total number of cars, 35,969 are assigned to the passenger service, 1,464,328 to the freight service, and 50,536 to the immediate service of the railways. These figures, however, do not include cars owned by private companies and firms that are used by railways, as no returns for them are made to the Commission.
The report under review contains summaries to indicate the density of equipment and the extent of its use. It appears therefrom that the railways of the United States used on an average 202 locomotives and 7,930 cars per 1,000 miles of line, that 59,631 passengers were carried and 1,704,005 passenger miles accomplished per passenger locomotive, and that 47,692 tons of freight were carried and 6,439,736 ton miles accomplished per freight locomotive. Embracing in the term “equipment” both locomotives and cars, it is noted that the total equipment of railways at the end of the year was 1,590,417. Of this number 1,164,048 were fitted with train brakes, the increase in this item being 158,319, and 1,549,840 were fitted with automatic couplers, the increase being 145,708. Nearly all locomotives and cars in the passenger service were fitted with train brakes, and of 10,184 locomotives assigned to that service 8,870 were fitted with automatic couplers. Practically all passenger cars were fitted with automatic couplers. Regarding freight equipment, it is observed that nearly all freight locomotives were equipped with train brakes and 89 per cent of them with automatic couplers. Of 1,464,328 cars in the freight service, 1,071,758 were fitted with train brakes and 1,434,075 with automatic couplers.
The number of persons in the employment of the railways of the United States as reported for June 30, 1901, was 1,071,169, or an average of 548 employees per 100 miles of line. As compared with June 30, 1900, the number of employees increased 53,516, or 19 per 100 miles of line. The classification of these employees shows that 45,292 were enginemen, 47,166 firemen, 32,092 conductors, and 84,493 other trainmen. There were 47,576 switchmen, flagmen, and watchmen. Omitting 3,107 employees not assigned to any of the four general divisions of employment, it appears that the services of 38,816 employees were required for general administration, 343,717 for maintenance of way and structures, 206,418 for maintenance of equipment, and 479,111 for conducting transportation.
One summary in the report contains a statement of the average daily compensation of the 18 classes of employees for ten years beginning with 1892, and another gives the total compensation paid to more than 99 per cent of the railway employees for the fiscal years 1895 to 1901. The amount paid in salaries and wages to employees during the year ending June 30, 1901, it is seen, was $610,713,701, which was $33,448,860 in excess of what was paid during 1900. The compensation of the railway employees for 1901 is equivalent to 59.26 per cent of the operating expenses of the railway companies and 38.44 per cent of their gross earnings.