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instance of a country between whose railway legislation and that of Great Britain a comparison may be instituted with the most perfect fairness to the latter. The case of the Belgian railways is not so applicable, as these are government works. A comparison with the German railways might be objected to on the ground of their low average cost of construction, and to their being to a great extent only single lines. It would detain us too long were

we to examine how far the reduced cost of the German lines is to be attributed to any facilities presented by the country, and how far to causes connected with the difference between the railway legislation of Germany and that of our own country.

When we compare Great Britain and France, we find that the former enjoys incomparably greater facilities than the latter for constructing railways by private capital, on the terms most advantageous for the community; and that, notwithstanding, from the different railway legislation of the two countries, railways are constructed in France on more advantageous terms than in Great Britain. In short, that Great Britain, which might have imposed on the undertakers of railways any conditions within the bounds of reason, has, in fact, hardly imposed any that are practically operative, while France, though greatly fettered in her proceedings by the necessity of attracting to railway undertakings the wealth of French and English capitalists, who were slow in coming into them, has secured for the State in her concessions of lines numerous and most important reservations and advantages.

None can doubt that the prospect of traffic is much greater in England than in France. The population of the former is denser; a much larger proportion of it is compelled to travel for commercial purposes, and accustomed to travel, from the comparative excellence of the old modes of conveyance; the habit of travelling for pleasure is far more extended, and the number of persons in affluent or easy circumstances, who can afford to pay first-class fares, and to travel as often and as far as convenience or pleasure may induce, is vastly greater. The goods' traffic of Great Britain must also be infinitely more productive than that of France; the immense manufactures and commerce of the former requiring the transportation of vast quantities of foreign products, raw materials, and manufactured goods to and from her ports and manufacturing towns; the prodigious population accumulated in her great towns, and drawing all their supplies from a distance; the almost universal use of coal, and a host of other circumstances, too numerous to detail, give to the British railways an incomparably greater mass of goods for transport than can be expected on the railways of a country like France: the towns of the latter being comparatively small, her foreign commerce little extended, her mineral resources far poorer, or at least, far less developed; the products of whose only flourishing manufactures are of small bulk, and the mass of whose population consists of peasant proprietors, consuming the produce of their own plots of land, with very little power of purchasing articles brought from other places. But while the

prospect of traffic is much greater in Great Britain than in France, the cost of constructing railways in this country is also, I believe, decidedly less. I do not here take into account the heavy preliminary and parliamentary expenses, or the large payments to landowners to buy off opposition, as the difference between these and the corresponding items of expense in France grows out of that very difference in the legislation of the two countries, which is under consideration; but allowing for these, it will be found, comparing their cost in the two countries, that railways, like most other things, are cheaper in England.

The cost of executing a given quantity of earthwork and masonry is not materially different in the two countries; the lower rate of wages in France, if it be lower, being more than compensated by the superior efficiency of English workmen. This is proved by iron, wood, locomotive engines, and fuel being much dearer there the fact of the employment of great numbers of the latter on railways in France. The other items of expense are greater in France; than in England. And there is no such difference in the surface of the two countries, as would account for any serious difference in the cost of their respective railways, supposing them to be planned with equal judgment, and executed with equal skill and


The disposition to vest capital in railways has been much greater in England than in France. In the latter the number of persons possessing considerable capitals is very limited, and these, also, are almost universally remarkable for their prudence and aversion from all large or novel undertakings. The rest of the nation, though prudent and saving, have individually very small means, and until lately were very slow in applying their savings to this new kind of investment. The principle of association in jointstock companies is also far less understood, and much more distrusted, in France than in England. A comparison of the enormous sums which have been vested by the English in every kind of stocks, and every class of companies, British and Foreign, with the extremely limited and partial employment of French funds in the same manner, gives a measure both of the respective ability of the two nations, and of their disposition for new kinds of investment. The rate of interest, as shown by the price of Government funds, is also considerably lower in England, British Consols having touched par when French Three per Cents. were about 85.

It is true that within the last twelve months a railway speculation has arisen in France, almost as wild as that which was contemporary with it in England. But if we go back a little further, we shall find that while in England capital was being steadily applied to the construction of great lines, and the favour of the public for railway investments was only checked during very great disturbances of the money market, in France, such was the general apathy or distrust, that it was only by offering in one case a guarantee of a dividend of four per cent., in another a large loan at a low rate of interest, and in a third a large free grant in

addition to a loan, that the Government could induce persons to come forward to undertake lines which were selected as enjoying the greatest amount of traffic, and which now bear the highest price. Even then it was only by the aid of English capital that the subscription list of two out of three of these lines could be filled up.

With these decided advantages on the side of England, both as respects the revenue to be derived from railway investments and the disposition of capitalists to engage in them, it might have been expected that in the bargains made between the state and the companies there would have been a corresponding superiority on our side in the stipulations for the benefit of the public. The very least we could anticipate would be, that Parliament should have imposed on the English companies applying for grants of lines, tariffs of charges and conditions as favourable for the public as those which the French legislature has imposed on companies applying for less promising lines, especially when it was found that these conditions had no influence in deterring companies from entering into the keenest competition for such lines.

But the fact, I regret to say, is widely different. In France a rule has been laid down for many years, to which no exception is allowed, that every railway shall, after a greater or less number of years, become the absolute property of the state. The term varies from 99 years, as a maximum, to less than 25 years. The reversion of the Rouen and Orleans lines, after 99 years, may appear a very remote benefit; but that of the Creil and St. Quentin, after little more than 24 years, is a provision of which even the generation now living will feel the advantage. If the present views of the French legislature be carried out, it will be found that in little more than 40 years all the principal lines of France, forming a complete system of communication between all parts of that country, will, with very few exceptions, revert to the state. They will then, if worked for revenue, constitute a property compared to which the largest treasures amassed in former times by any sovereign or state shrinks into insignificance.

It may be fairly presumed, or rather it is all but certain, that at the expiration of the present concessions, the value of the railways now conceded, and of those which will certainly be conceded in France within a few years, immensely increased, as it will then doubtless be, by the progressive increase of population and traffic, will be far more than sufficient to pay off the whole of the existing national debt of France, should her legislature think fit to sell them, or lease them afresh for that purpose. Indeed, considering the rapid increase of traffic, and the growing demand for railways in all parts of France, it is not easy for the most sanguine to form any estimate of the vast amount of capital that will probably, in no very lengthened period, be vested in that country in railways, and which will of course wholly revert to the state. France will then possess a bona fide sinking-fund of some hundreds of millions sterling. Should her Government

adopt the plan of reducing the fares and charges on railways to the sums necessary to work them, and defray wear and tear, (which, in consequence of improvements, will doubtless then be much less than at present,) they will afford to the community the incalculable advantages of free and rapid communication through every part of that country at an all but nominal cost. It will be the principle of the penny postage on letters applied to all the persons and products of a great nation.

The Government of France has also imposed on the companies various conditions for the benefit of the public. We shall quote the principal of these from the law conceding the Northern Line, as this has been the model for subsequent concessions, and will no doubt be adhered to for the future, unless experience should suggest other conditions still more advantageous for the public.

1. A maximum of charges for passengers and goods is fixed as follows:

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These rates do not include the tax of 10 per cent. on the cost of transportation of passengers only, which is paid to the state by the company, and which they may add to the tariff.

Passengers of all classes are allowed to carry 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs. avoirdupoise) weight of baggage, without extra charge. 10 centimes are about equal to ld.

A kilometre is nearly equal to five-eighths of a mile.

The French weight of 1000 kilogrammes does not differ much from an English ton.

The passenger fares are equivalent to about 1d. per mile, for the first class, a little over 1d. for the second, and about d. for the third.

2. The company is strictly forbidden to make reductions in their charge for goods, in favour of any carrier, or any other party, without giving the same advantage to all other persons.

4. Soldiers and sailors travelling singly on service, on furlough, or on their return to their homes, pay only half the tariff rates. Soldiers and sailors travelling in corps pay only one-quarter the tariff rates. If the Government wish to forward troops or military stores, it may put the whole working stock of the company in requisition at tariff prices.

5. The mails, and the servants of the post-office in charge of them, are to be carried gratuitously by all the company's trains in a carriage, of which the form and dimensions are to be determined by Government. Special trains carrying the mails to be run on the requisition of the post-office at any hours of the day or night, on the payment of a remuneration, the maximum amount of which is fixed at 75 cents. per kilometre (about 7d. per mile) for each train, and 25 cents. more for each carriage over the first.

6. Prisoners and persons having them in charge are to be carried by all the regular trains at half the tariff rates, in prison vans, provided by Government.

7. Government may establish an electric telegraph along the line, to be protected by the company's policemen; the function

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