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aries employed in its management or repair are to be transported gratuitously by the company.

8. Fifteen years after the completion of the line, Government may take possession of it, on paying to the company during the remaining years of the lease, an annuity equal to the average nett revenue of the five most productive years of the seven last years of the fifteen.

9. Government may construct common roads, canals, or railways, crossing the company's line, taking care that the company is not injured thereby.

10. Government may concede any number of new lines and of branches from, or extensions of, the company's line. The companies to whom the new lines may be conceded, may run their trains along the whole length of the original line, paying on their trains and their contents that portion of the charges of the latter which is called the toll, as distinguished from the charge for transport. The company of the main line is bound, if it reduce its charges on its own traffic below the tariff rates, to reduce the toll and cost of transportation in the same proportion, that the branches may have the benefit of the reduction. And it may be obliged by the Legislature to reduce the tolls charged by it to the branches below the tolls on its own traffic in the following proportion :

1st. If the branch or extension be not more than 100

kilometres in length

2nd. If between 100 and 200 kilometres 3rd. If between 200 and 300 kilometres 4th. If above 300 kilometres

Per cent.

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11. Permanent Government Commissioners may be appointed and paid from the company's funds, to watch over the working and maintenance of the line. Before any part of the line is opened, it must be inspected and reported safe by the Government Engineers.

12. Railways are also taxed to the extent of 1-10th of that part of their gross receipts, which is distinguished as their charge for conveyance, and also pay the contribution foncière, &c.

How widely different is this system of railway legislation from our own! In the latter, the grants of lines are all perpetual. The right of revising the rates of charge on the lines constructed previously to 1845, only accrues to the State after 20 years, and then only on condition of guaranteeing a minimum dividend of 10 per cent. The provisions for the transport of soldiers, sailors, and of the post, are much less advantageous than in France; and there is no proviso for placing the whole means of transport at the disposal of Government on any emergency, either of foreign war or civil disturbances. There is no provision for the transport of prisoners; there is no security against unequal charges. Government has a much less general power of interfering authoritatively with the construction or working of the line for the

safety of the public; nor can any company be compelled to admit branch or continuation lines on its line.

Lastly and chiefly, the rates of charges of English railways are practically unlimited, that is, the companies are in every instance left at liberty to charge as high a rate on every part of their traffic as they have ever thought, or are ever likely to think, for their own advantage; and the consequence is, that on all the English railways, excepting a very small number of lines placed under peculiar circumstances, the charges are much higher than the French maximum rates.

A short sketch of the progress of French railway legislation will show the difficulties with which the French Government had to contend in getting railways constructed by private capital, and the perseverance and address with which, despite these difficulties, they have provided for the benefit of the public in their establishment.

The first line conceded in France was from St. Etienne to Andrinieux, in 1823. This, however, was intended for the transportation of minerals only; and some other lines for the transport of minerals were conceded in 1823 and the following years. But it was not until 1835 that the establishment of railways on an improved system, and intended chiefly for the transport of passengers by steam power, was commenced by the concession of the line from Paris to St. Germain. In this, the first concession of the kind, the legislature laid down the principle from which it has never deviated, of securing the reversion of the entire railway to the State at the expiration of a certain term of years, which in this case was fixed at 99. The next considerable concessions were those of the two lines from Paris to Versailles, also for 99 years. A few other lines of minor importance in the provinces were conceded with the same length of lease in the two following years. But it was not until 1838 that a beginning was made in the establishment of lines of the first magnitude, that is, of lines between the metropolis and distant parts of the country, by the enacting of laws for the concession of lines from Paris to Rouen and from Paris to Orleans; the terms of these grants not being finally settled till 1840. In these cases the grants are for 99 years; and it was further necessary to tempt English and French capitalists to engage in them, by the offer of a guarantee of 4 per cent. dividend by the State for the Orleans line, and of a large Government loan at 3 per cent. for the Rouen line. The line from Strasburg to Basle was also finally conceded in 1840. In 1841 there were no concessions-capitalists showing no disposition to come forward.

In 1842, the construction of the line from Rouen to Havre was decided upon; but the public was so little inclined to vest their money in railways, that it was only by the offer of a large free gift, in addition to a large loan at 3 per cent., the interest not to commence till three years after the opening of the line, that a company, composed partly of French and partly of English sub

scribers, was induced to undertake the work. A comparison of the foregoing sketch of railway enterprise in France down to 1842, with the great number of Acts applied for and railways constructed in England down to the same date, proves the immense superiority of the latter over the former in the abundance of capital disposable for railways and in the enterprise of its owners, and greatly enhances the merit of the French legislature, which, with resources so inferior, and at the risk of checking altogether the construction of new lines, has had the firmness to insist on terms so much more favourable to the public than those obtained in England. The session of the Chambers, in 1842, was distinguished by the introduction of the principle of partial construction at the expense of the State, of such lines as were supposed incapable of yielding a remunerative return on their whole cost. But it is unnecessary to examine this last part of the French system, since the more favoured position of England makes it needless for us to resort to it.

It was not till the session of 1844-5, that such of the great lines as it was presumed would yield an adequate return on the whole cost of their construction viz., the Northern Line, the Paris and Lyons, and the Lyons and Avignon lines, were finally offered to competition and these were offered, subject to all the stipulations in favour of the public previously enumerated, although the whole expense of their construction was to be defrayed, as in England, by the companies. The Northern was taken at a term of 38 years, and the Paris and Lyons at 41 years. The adjudication of the Lyons and Avignon line has not yet taken place,

It cannot be said that the conditions imposed by the French system are too onerous-that they have either discouraged the investment of capital in railways, or reduced their probable profits, in the judgment of those most competent to form an opinion on the subject, below a fair and satisfactory return. The proof of this is to be found in the market prices of the shares of the principal French railways. At the moment I write, the Orleans shares are at 1,280 for a share of 500 francs; the Rouen at 1,010 for a share also of 500; the Northern at 260 premium on a share nominally at 500 francs, but really of 450; and the Paris and Lyons is at 620 for a share of 500 francs. These are the prices at the present time, which is certainly one of depression rather than of excitement. The Orleans have been above 1,400, the Rouen above 1,200, and the Northern above 350 prem. I have purposely quoted such lines only as have been constructed entirely at the expense of companies; and two of these, the Northern and the Paris and Lyons, having been conceded since the French system of conditions for the benefit of the public has been perfected, the shareholders in them will consequently sustain, in its fullest extent, any diminution of profits which that system may involve. But the fact is, that these conditions, taken together, are not considered in France, nor by the English capitalists who vest their money so largely in French railways, as

material objections to investment. The terminable lease is the subject of a calculation by which to ascertain the deduction to be made from the nett revenue of the line to form a sinking-fund for the replacement of the capital at the expiration of the term. This sinking-fund, in the case of all the lines adjudicated within the last three years, ranges from a little below I to about 2 per cent.; so that, whenever a line is expected to pay from 1 to 2 per cent. more than the ordinary return on an investment-say 5 per cent.-the line is worth making on a terminable lease of from 25 to 41 years. In regard to the other conditions, the tariff of rates included, very little stress is laid upon these in estimating the prospects of a line. No doubt there are a few lines in France the shares of which are below par-some very greatly so; but in no case can the depression in their price be traced in any degree to the stringency of the conditions imposed by Government. On the contrary, they are, in almost every case, lines conceded before the later improvements in French railway legislation, and on terms much less favourable to the public than were stipulated for in the cases of the Northern and other recently-conceded lines, all of which are at a premium. The low price of their shares is of course to be attributed to the injudicious location of the lines, to the inadequacy of their traffic, or the exorbitancy of their cost. Neither is there a single line in France which the Government is willing to concede, and which is refused by companies, on account of the stringency of the conditions now imposed. On the contrary, the eagerness of large capitalists and of the public to obtain concessions, has been increasing, at the same time that the conditions attached to them have been made more advantageous for the public.

Now, I would beg to ask, what reason is there for supposing that the consequences would have been different had the French system, with all its advantages for the public, been adopted in England? If I am right in supposing that railways in England are much more promising investments than railways in France, and that there is a much greater amount of capital available for their formation in the former than the latter, there can be no doubt that capitalists would willingly have undertaken the construction of our lines on conditions at least as advantageous to the public as have been obtained in France. A considerable part of the capital vested in French railways has been subscribed by English capitalists, including many who are deeply engaged in English railways, who have not been prevented by the conditions previously referred to from engaging in them with the greatest eagerness; and such being the fact, is there so much as the shadow of a ground for supposing that they would have been less willing to embark their money on the same terms in their own country? One great advantage of the French system remains to be noticed: the initiative in deciding on the railways which shall be made, and on the number of these which shall be conceded in any one year, as well as in fixing the line which each shall follow through

out its length, is reserved to the Government. Had this provision been adopted in England, we should have escaped a great part of the very serious evils with which we are threatened by the enormous multiplication of railway bills. Parliament would not have been overwhelmed by the presentation of a mass of bills, to which it is physically impossible its Members can pay any satisfactory attention; and the Prime Minister would not have been obliged to declare to the House of Commons that the passing even of such a proportion of these Bills as Parliament might be expected to sanction, would produce the most ruinous disappointment to the shareholders and the most serious national inconvenience; inasmuch as they would require an annual outlay of capital on their construction very far beyond what the resources of the country could supply. The disposition to railway speculation has reached a great height in France, and threatened to produce the same inconvenience there that is now felt in England, by diverting capital from other employments to be locked up in railway deposits and calls for the construction of unfinished lines; but the reservation of the initiative of all railway projects to the Government, has placed the remedy within its reach, by enabling the legislature to limit the annual concessions to the schemes most required, and to such only as there may be funds to construct, without unduly raising the rate of interest and injuring the public. The French Ministry and Chambers have shown their determination to act on this principle by proposing to authorize, in the present session, concessions to a small number only of the most necessary lines.

In England, where the selection of lines for railways is abandoned entirely to the judgment of individual projectors, such as promised the largest profit have been the first to be selected, the lines having stopped at the points where the return promised to be less favourable; no regard whatever having been paid nor a thought bestowed on the suitableness of those lines as parts of a future general system of communication to be eventually established throughout the island. According as the advantages of railway investments have become better known, other railways have been gradually constructed in connexion with the early lines, and when the rise of new and rival companies made it expedient for those of older date to endeavour to secure the advantages they already enjoyed, they set about planning branches in different directions, not that they might form parts of a complete consentaneous system, but that they might cut the ground from under the feet of their rivals, and pacify the clamour of local interests for railway accommodation. In consequence, the great characteristic of a good national railway system, that is, directness of communication between distant points and the Metropolis, with the facilities of travelling to and from all parts of the country, the poorer and less populous as well as the more favoured, have been to a great extent irremediably sacrificed. In France, on the contrary, every line of railway is planned by the Government as part of a general system of main and branch lines intended to give as perfect

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