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To Honorable E. C. Burleigh, Governor of Maine:
The Railroad Commissioner's respectfully submit their thirty-second annual report.
Unlike the acts creating Boards of Railroad Commissioners in many other states, in which the Commissioners' powers and duties relate mainly to the regulation of traffic on railroads, the original act creating a Board of Railroad Commissioners in Maine, had for its object and was entitled “An act to secure the safety and convenience of travelers on railroads". And while many additional powers and duties have been imposed upon the Board by subsequent acts relating to other matters, we trust we have not, in the discharge of our multifarious duties, lost sight of the prime object for which the Board was created.
SAFETY OF TRAVELERS ON RAILROADS. Absolute safety to travelers by any mode of conveyance, cannot be secured; neither can railroads be so constructed and operated that travel on them will be entirely safe. Still by reason of inventive genius, approved methods, and the experience of those in charge, the danger to travelers on railroads has been greatly reduced.
The number of persons who are killed or injured, while riding on railroads in comparison with the number who travel, is exceedingly small. Although it is but sixty years since the first passenger railroad in America, a little road running from Albany to Schenectady, N. Y., a distance of sixteen miles, was constructed, the report of the statistician to the Interstate Commerce Commission, stated, on the 30th day of June, 1889, the railway mileage of the United States to be 157,758.83 miles; the number of passengers carried during that year, 472,171,343 ; the aggregate number of miles traveled 11,553,820,44), which shows an average journey of 24.47 miles for each passenger.
Of the above number of passengers carried, 310 were killed and 2,146 more or less injured, as follows:
389 Other train accidents.
247 At highway crossings.
16 Stations ..
295 Other causes.
2,146 It will be seen from the foregoing statistics, that notwithstanding the vast number of passengers carried, the number of miles traveled, and the demands for swift locomotion and transportation made upon railroads, which is the most speedy mode of travel now in use, and as appears, as safe as other modes, comparatively few have been, in any way injured.
This freedom from accidents to passengers on railroads, is not realized by employes. In connection with the railroad system of the country there are 704,743 workers, the most of whom are men. It is estimated that independently of stockholders, the railroads of the United States provide a living for 3,000,000 persons, or about one in twenty-two of the total population of the country, and these employes are distributed among the various sub-employments of the railway industry as follows: General officers.
4,739 Office clerks...
24,171 58,037 30,217 31,993 20,953 55,160 25,214 33,244 75,959 25,539 145,401 33,044 16,937
6,998 80,080 16,240
704,743 01 the above number of employes, statistics show the startling fact tbat 1,972 were killed and 20,028 injured during the year ending June 30, 1889, ils follows:
Killed. Injured Coupling and uncoupling cars.. 300
6,757 Falling from trains and engines . 493 2,011 Overhead obstructions...
65 296 Collisions.
820 Derailments ....
125 655 Other train accidents.
189 1,016 At highway crossings
45 At stations...
699 Other causes
1,972 20,028 The above figures disclose the dangerous nature of railway employment. As appears, there is one death for every 357 employes, and one injury for every thirty-five employes, or if we confine it to train-men only, that is to say, engineers, firemen, conductors, and other train-men, railway accidents are the occasion of one death for every 117 employes, and of one injury for every twelve men employed. That this number of men employed in railway service should be killed or maimed in one year is appalling and seems unreasonable and unnecessary if trains were equipped with such modern appliances as are now at hand. The above statistics show that few accidents occur by reason of defective tracks or bridge structures of railroads. The number of passengers, above mentioned, which are carried safely by the railways of the country yearly, is evidence that the physical condition of railroads is generally well muintained. The great danger to travelers by railroads, is not that railways are improperly constructed or maintained ; but by reason of mismanagement and the carelessness and incompetency of employes. Nearly every railroad accident to trains of which we read, can be directly inttributed to the above mentioned causes. What is true in respect to the accidents throughout the country is true as to our own State.
The physical condition of railroads in Maine is well maintained and no accident of a serious nature has occurred for many years to trains that could be reasonably attributed to defects in construction or want of repair in track or bridge structures.
RAILROAD EMPLOYES. In connection with the statistical facts above given, as to accidents to employes on railroads, vast numbers of whom as we have shown, are yearly being killed, maimed and otherwise injured, we are led to inquire must this slaughter of our strong, active young men be permitted to continue? Is there no remedy? Can it be said that we have required a perfect system of railroading in this country when out of 704,743 employes, 1,972 are killed and 20,028 injured yearly, of whom many of the latter class are maimed and crippled for life?
Doubtless very many of these accidents occur by reason of the carelessness of these persons or of their coemployes ;