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INFORMATION LODGED AGAINST VARIOUS RAILWAYS.
Under section 6 of the original act, the Commission has lodged information with the proper distric attorneys of violations of the act by the following railroad companies :
Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company.
Dakota, Missouri, and Kansas).
Illinois Central Railroad Company. Actions were only begun during the last month, as the inspectors of the Commission have been fully employed in examining into the condition of equipment on the lines of carriers which petitioned for an extension of time within which to comply with the provisions of the new act. The violations which have been reported are but examples of widespread neglect. Our inspectors report that there is hardly a freight yard in the country in which men are not continually compelled to do the very thing which the law was designed to prevent; that is, go between the ends of cars to couple and uncouple.
The Commission has also requested the proper district attorneys to proceed against the following roads for failure to comply with the law relating to reports of accidents:
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company.
EXTENSIONS OF TIME FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW.
Notwithstanding the time allowed by the amendment in question, applications were received from a number of railroads for extensions of time within which to comply with the new provisions of the law, and a hearing on such applications was had at the office of the Commission on August 5 and 6. As a result of this hearing a temporary extension was granted until October 15. On October 12 a further hearing was had, which resulted in certain other extensions, as detailed below. The applications for relief were of four classes:
(1) In regard to the use of grab irons on the front ends and sides of locomotives;
(2) In regard to power driving-wheel brakes on narrow gauge locomotives;
(3) In regard to change of type of automatic couplers on passenger cars; and,
(4) In regard to the 50 per cent air-brake requirement of the law.
GRAB IRONS AND UNCOUPLING RODS.
In the matter of grab irons the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and its subsidiary lines filed a petition stating that, in their judgment, the requirement of the law with respect to hand holds on the front or sides of road engines is one which should be dispensed with as not calculated to secure the safety of employees or protect them in the discharge of their duties. After considerable correspondence the company was informed that this matter would be taken up with the American Railway Master Mechanics' Association, at its convention to be held in June. This was done, and a committee was appointed by that body to investigate the subject. The committee reported a recommendation only as to the method of application of grab irons to tenders, and the question of their application to the front ends of locomotives was thus left
open. Following the preliminary order issued by the Commission after the hearing of August 5 a circular was sent to all the railroads, which resulted in extensive correspondence, and the subsequent appointment of a committee by the American Railway Master Mechanics’ Association to investigate the subject of grab irons on locomotives.
The secretary and the chief inspector of the Commission and the grand chief of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen attended a meeting of this committee in New York City on September 28. At this meeting the views of the respective parties were fully considered, and as a result the committee adopted a report recommending the use, on the front ends of engines, of uncoupling rods extending entirely across, and the construction of these rods in such manner that they will serve as grab irons.
The committee also reported in favor of having a convenient step or foothold on the pilots of locomotives. Copies of correspondence between the secretary of the Commission and the chairman of the committee accompany the committee's report. The report itself will be found in the Appendix.
In the course of the discussion it was urged on the part of the railroads that their rules forbade men to ride on the front ends of locomotives, and that, therefore, hand holds were unnecessary and an element of danger. This might be a good argument if these rules were complied with; but, as was stated at a recent meeting of the Northwest Railway Club, and as is generally known by railroad men, running switches are constantly being made by men engaged in road service, and this often
makes it necessary for men to ride on the front end. In the language of a veteran trainman, speaking before the Railway Club referred to
They do stand on the pilot, and they will stand on the pilot just as long as there is a pilot on the engine. My men do it every day in the week, and half a dozen times a day.
A road engine should have better appliances for saying the men than a switch engine; the road men have to make all kinds of plays to do the work quickly, and their engine needs all these appliances much more than a switching engine.
The existence of a certain rule is no good reason for not using an appliance prescribed by the law, unless it is shown that the rule is enforced and is generally observed. It is well known that the rule forbidding men to ride on the pilots of road engines is neither enforced by the officers nor observed by the men. In determining the grabiron question the judgment of the men themselves, who have to use these appliances for their own protection, should receive the greatest consideration.
WATER BRAKES ON COLORADO ROADS.
The application to use locomotives without driving-wheel brakes came from the Denver & Rio Grande and the Colorado Southern, the only important narrow-gauge railroads in the country. These roads on their long and steep grades control the locomotive by the use of the water brake.” It was claimed, and with apparent reason, that this device is more efficient in the particular circumstances of these lines than would be the driving-wheel brake which the law contemplates. Therefore, to permit this question to be laid before the Congress at its present session with a view to the amendment of the law, leave was given to these two roads to postpone until July 1, 1904, compliance with this provision. The extension applies only to a certain type of locomotives used in road service.
THE CASE OF THE BOSTON & MAINE.
The passenger car coupler question was brought up by the Boston & Maine, which is changing the type of automatic couplers on its passenger cars and engines, putting on the Master Car Builders' type. As the prosecution of this work during the period of heavy summer travel would undoubtedly inconvenience the public, an extension was granted until January 1, 1904.
THE 50 PER CENT REQUIREMENT.
The applicants for extension of time as to the 50 per cent requirement presented as their chief argument the very serious congestion of freight traffic which has existed throughout the country nearly the whole of the past year, and which has greatly hampered the work of making up trains in yards. In this condition of traffic, to delay trains for the purpose of assembling the air-brake cars in the forward part of the train would produce appreciable delays, tending to aggravate the already serious blockades at important yards.
This plea, in general, appeared to be well-founded and reasonable, although it must be said in the same connection that the difficulties alleged appear to have been due in many instances to the neglect of the railroad companies to keep their air-brake cars in suitable and workable condition. If all the cars which are fitted with air brakes were in a good state of repair and efficiency, it is believed that the 50 per cent rule could be substantially observed except in a few situations. However, in view of the evident inability of the roads, in some cases, to comply with the law without inflicting upon the public a degree of hardship out of proportion to the benefits likely to result from its strict observance, the Commission decided to allow additional time, and extensions were granted of a varying number of months to correspond with what appeared to be the conditions on different roads and divisions of roads.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was granted until July 1, 1904, except on certain divisions, where no extension was granted. On the Pennsylvania lines west of Pittsburg, the extension expires January 1, 1904, with certain exceptions, and July 1, 1904, on a small portion.
The Erie Railroad (east of Salamanca) was granted until January 1, 1904, and the same extension was allowed the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, the Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad Company, the Kanawha & Michigan Railway Company, the Hocking Valley Railway Company, the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway Company, and the Cincinnati, Indianapolis & Western Railway Company.
The Zanesville & Western Railway Company was allowed until July 1, 1904.
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company was granted an extension until March 1, 1904, in respect of that provision of the law applying to driving-wheel brakes, but with reference only to 108 switching locomotives, and an extension as regards power brakes and automatic couplers on certain narrow-gauge cars and locomotives. Three very short roads were granted longer extensions.
Certain companies have again asked for a further extension as to their brake equipment and their petitions will be heard on the 16th of December. The requirement of the law in respect to air brakes is one with which the roads of the country, except as above specified, are generally complying.
THE INSPECTION SERVICE.
The inspection service is proving of great value, and the Congress has refused no request of the Commission for appropriations to carry on this work.
The inspection might, however, be made more effective. If the inspectors were authorized to mark every car or vehicle which they found defective, or had authority, suitably restricted, to prevent the running of trains not having the required percentage of air brakes, or otherwise palpably in violation of the act, many of the things which the Commission can now deal with only by sending a complaint to a district attorney would be remedied on the spot and probably with little or no friction. Such a proceeding would be in accordance with business-like methods and reduce the number of occasions when it would be necessary to bring action, besides avoiding much of the illfeeling which prosecutions create.
INADEQUACY OF THE INSPECTION FORCE.
While the inspectors have been able to keep the Commission well informed as to the general condition of safety appliances on freight cars and engines and to detect a great number of defective cars and engines, it is out of the question, of course, for 15 inspectors to secure any adequate detailed information concerning a million and a half of
A larger force is needed. A significant comparison may be made with the Steamboat Inspection Service, for which the Government spends $350,000 annually, while for the current fiscal year the appropriation for the employment of safety appliance inspectors to “execute and enforce” the provisions of this law, involving the safety of millions of people and enormous property interests, was only $50,000.
WORK OF THE INSPECTORS.
The reports made to the Commission by its 15 inspectors, who spend their time visiting railroad yards to examine cars and engines for the purpose of seeing that the provisions of the safety appliance act are complied with, indicate that the general condition of freight cars and engines, in respect of couplers, and hand holds is not so good as it was last year, but some improvement is noted in the condition of power brakes. The enormous volume of traffic which the principal railroads have handled during the past year has been connected in a great many cases with what must be termed neglect. It is true that thousands of new freight cars have been put in service; that these cars, as a rule, are equipped with the latest and most approved designs of safety appliances; and that many new locomotives have been built which are also equipped with the appliances required by law. It is probably true that the railroads, generally considered, have increased their forces of car inspectors and have added to the appliances and facilities necessary to the work of efficient inspection. But the fact remains that the improvements have not kept pace with the expansion of traffic. The strain on the mechanical and operating departments has been so protracted and severe that the officials have been unable in many cases to meet it successfully.