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no remunerative traffic till the missing link is supplied, after which the current of Punjab traffic, now constantly on the increase, will find its way in three or four days to its natural seaport at Kurrachee. This line will run parallel with the Indus, and enable the Government to transport troops and stores with ease and rapidity to any of the points on that river upon which an enemy from the westward might prefer to advance through the Bolan pass or the Solyman range. Such a line along the Indus, in combination with one from Lahore to Peshawur, would render our western frontier—where alone danger is to be apprehended-as impregnable as human skill and foresight and the appliances of modern science could make it. The third project now in contemplation is the line from Delhi or Agra, through Rajpootana, to the northern terminus of the Baroda rail, which would connect those cities by a short route with Bombay.
The feelings with which the natives were likely to regard this novel and wonderful mode of conveyance was a subject of considerable anxiety during the period of construction ; but every doubt was happily removed as soon as the trains began to run. The railway took the fancy of the people at once, and the use of it became a national passion, which continues in unabated vigour though the novelty of it has worn off. It was also apprehended that the poverty of the native community would form a serious obstacle to the extensive employment of it; but this idea proved equally fallacious. It is the third class, necessarily composed of the lower orders, which contributes the largest amount of passenger-traffic. During the latest period of a twelvemonth to which the accounts have been made up, the first class paid 77,0001., the second 109,0001., the third 1,250,0001. The total number of passengers conveyed during the year amounted to 13,746,000, of whom 95 per cent. were of the third class. Neither have the prejudices of caste been found to interfere with the patronage of the rail, and it is a subject of no little interest to watch its silent but irresistible influence in undermining them. When it was seen that the different classes of carriages were not intended, as the natives expected, to accommodate different castes—the first for the Brahmin, and the third for the Sooder—the Brahmin manifested no reluctance to travel in the cheapest class. The fastidiousness of caste is as predominant in England as in India ; and it was doubtless the spectacle of a Brahmin, sprung from the head of the Creator, seated between two of the unclean Sooders, sprung from His feet, which suggested the facetious remark that in England the quality travelled first-class to save their caste, and in India they went third-class to save their money, regardless of caste. Another question likewise arose when the undertaking was in its infancy : Would the pilgrims, who travel by tens and hundreds of thousands to the great shrines, be debarred by the rules of the Shasters from the use of the rail ? The subject was referred by Mr. Stephenson to the Dhurmu Subha of Calcutta, the great sanhedrim of orthodox Hindoos, who, after consulting the sacred texts and the learned pundits, delivered it as their opinion that the devotee might ride in a railway carriage to the various shrines without diminishing the merit of the pilgrimage.
The actual cost of construction has been found in every instance to exceed the original estimate, which, exclusive of legal expenses and the value of the land, was, in 1853, estimated by Lord Dalhousie at about 80001. for a single line. It has, on an average, amounted to double that sum, and in some cases has risen to 20,0001. This is not to be attributed altogether to prodigality of expenditure, although it was by no means favourable to the practice of economy that the engineers sent out to India had been trained up in the construction of lines at home at the rate of 35,0001, a mile. The extraordinary expense of the lines is to be traced at first to the novelty of the undertaking and the total absence of all local experience, and eventually to the rise in the value of labour and of materials which the enterprise itself was instrumental in creating. There can be no doubt that such works could now be executed at a much cheaper rate; and we learn from Mr. Danvers's report that an official Committee has recently reported to Government that, without any sacrifice of necessary strength and permanence, such modifications could be introduced in the system of construction as should prevent the cost of railways in any case exceeding 10,0001. per mile of single line; and that under favourable circumstances most of the lines likely to be undertaken could be completed in an efficient manner at a far less cost.' Whether 10,0001. a mile be the maximum which the cost of a railway ought not to exceed must for many years be an open question, as cheapness of construction may be overbalanced by costliness of maintenance. Dear-bought experience in India has taught us that there is a certain standard of solidity in the masonry and a certain scale of strength in the permanent way which cannot be neglected with impunity; and that where these requirements have been sacrificed to the ambition of economy the renewals and reconstructions will more than swallow up whatever had been saved by this misplaced parsimony. No line should be constructed in India which will not bear the transport of an Armstrong gun.
The traffic on the Indian lines, though gradually increasing with the development of trade, has not as yet yielded a return Vol. 125.-No. 249.
equal to that of the English lines. The aggregate receipts for passengers on all the lines, in the year ending June, 1867, amounted to a little short of one-third of the total revenue, or 1,430,0001., while merchandise contributed 3,272,0001. During two half-years the earnings of the two chief lines have exceeded the guaranteed interest, and the shareholders have accordingly received an additional quarter per cent. ; but we cannot and still less ought we to expect a cotton famine in England and a grain famine in India every year.
The Indian railways unquestionably afford the most eligible and the most desirable channel for the investment of capital to those who are content with a permanent return of 5
per cent., liable to no risk or interruption. Any addition to that sum must depend on the vigour of commercial enterprise in India, and also, in some measure, on that jealousy of the current expenditure of the line of which our continental neighbours afford so bright an example. On the two more prosperous lines, the Government has been entirely relieved from the farther payment of any interest on the capital they have absorbed—about forty-five millions; and the amount advanced last year from the Indian Treasury for interest on the other lines was reduced to about 700,0001. The aggregate sum advanced from the beginning by Government on account of all the railways, after deducting repayments, does not exceed twelve millions. Even if this sum should not eventually be repaid from the profits of the rails, it is a very insignificant amount for the masters of so magnificent an empire to have contributed in fifteen years out of an annual revenue of forty-five millions, to endow it with the incalculable blessing of railways. It is, after all, less by three millions than the sum squandered on the fatal expedition into Afghanistan.
With regard to rates and fares, the control of Government is limited by the terms of the contract to the power of fixing them in the first instance, and regulating any subsequent movement to increase them. It is precluded from reducing the scale without the consent of the Companies, except when the profits exceed 10 per cent.
Sir Stafford Northcote has recently sanctioned a system of maximum rates and fares, leaving it to the discretion of the agents in India to work below that limit as they may deem most conducive to the interests of the line. The rates for goods are determined by the classes, six in number, into which they have been distributed, and they range on the East Indian line from 7-8ths of a penny to 7d. per ton per mile. The fares for passengers on that line are 2 d. per mile for the first class; 1 d. for the second ; and 3-8ths of a penny for the third ; that is to say, a first-class fare for a distance equivalent to that from London Bridge to Brighton, would be 108.; a second-class 5s. ; and a third 18d. But even this very limited scale is considered too high for the means of the lower class of natives, and a proposition has recently been made by the Government of India to reduce it by one-third. • It is for the interest of the Companies,' as Mr. Danvers justly observes, to increase the taste for travelling among all classes, and more especially the lowest ;' but as this class forms the stamina of the passenger traffic on all the lines, the reduction of the income by one-third will require much deliberation. There is, however, no diversity of object between the Government and the Railway Companies. Both are equally anxious to render the rail popular, and thereby remunerative; and if it be said that the tendency of all Companies is to adopt high rates, it will not be forgotten that the Government of India is likewise interested in the success of the undertaking, and that whatever loss may be sustained by inadequate fares, if they reduce the revenue below five per cent., must be made good from the public treasury. There is in fact such a beneficial balance of interests in the Indian guarantee system, that a wise adjustment of this question may be attained without any difficulty. By the contract, the Government of India is constituted the guarantee of the public interests, and in no respect has Sir John Lawrence exhibited a more earnest and laudable anxiety than in his repeated remonstrances against that contempt for the comfort of the third class of passengers which railway officials manifest in all countries, and which in India is aggravated by difference of colour. The rapidity with which the works were pushed forward, in order to open the lines within the shortest period, left much to be accomplished at the various stations for the accommodation more especially of the inferior class. These deficiencies have been partially supplied, but much remains yet to be done. The thirdclass carriages were at first worse than cattle pens, crammed as closely as the hold of one of the old slave ships. To a certain extent these carriages have been improved, but the Companies must be allowed no rest till they have provided them with the conveniences of some of the continental vehicles, with a passage down the middle, and seats on either side to prevent overcrowding. This arrangement would also afford facilities for the inspection of the police. With regard, moreover, to the provision for entering and leaving the third-class carriages there is room for great improvement, and the unremitting attention of the Government in India and of the Boards in England is indispensable to secure them.
The introduction of railways forms a new era in the history of public works in India. This was the department in which
the neglect of Government had been most palpable and reprehensible. It was more especially to be deplored in reference to the most important of material requirements, the construction of bridges. During the century in which the East India Company governed the country, no bridges were erected except over some contemptible rivulets, and they were repeatedly swept away by floods. The railway Companies have relieved our national honour from this reproach. Under the modest name of viaducts, they have bridged the most rapid and difficult streams, the Adji, the Soane, the Tonse, the Jumna, at Allahabad, and again at Delhi, the Taptee, and the Nerbudda; and the occurrence of the most formidable river in their path is considered no obstacle to their progress.
There still remains one great work untouched, though it is of paramount importance to the prosperity of the East India rail, and the interests of its shareholders—the bridging of the Hooghly at Calcutta. While it has been deemed necessary to connect the old capital at Delhi with the line by a bridge which has cost 150,0001., the metropolitan terminus of the rail is still at Howrah, on the opposite side of the river. The entire traffic of a line of 1000 miles, and of 70,000,000 of the most industrious population in India, is separated from its maritime emporium by a river half a mile wide, crowded in every part with shipping, and for four months of the year flowing like a torrent, at the rate of seven miles an hour. All the produce of those opulent districts on its arrival at the terminal station at Howrah is transferred to boats, many of which are unsafe, and conveyed across the river, and re-transferred to the carts which carry it to the warehouses of the merchants. Much of the time saved by the rail is too often lost on the river, more especially when it becomes impassable for a day or two during the height of the south-west monsoon. Some faint estimate may be formed of the confusion and embarrassment to which the trade of the Gangetic valley, for the benefit of which the rail was constructed, is daily subjected by the want of a bridge, by supposing the entire traffic of more than a thousand miles of English rails to be brought up at Southwark, and transported day by day in lighters to London. It was part of the original plan of the rail, when Howrah was occupied as a temporary terminus, to complete it by a bridge, as soon as it was open throughout. The necessity of constructing it, to meet the continual growth of traffic becomes daily more imperative. Two years ago the Governor-General, on the earnest representation of the merchants of Calcutta, by whom the line is mainly supported, appointed a commission of engineer officers, to investigate the question under every aspect, and they reported that a bridge was