At a late meeting of the Franklin Institute, as published in the Jowrnal, Messrs. Z. Colburn and Holly made some interesting remarks in reference to the management of railroads in this country as compared with France and England. From the statements made, it appears that the average cost of maintenance, renewal of way, and engines and working, is, in New York, 70J cents per mile run, against but 36J cents in England, and 42 cents in France. In the northern United States, the average distance run with the consumption of one tun of coal (or wood in equal proportion) is forty miles ; in Great Britain it is seventy-seven miles, and in France eighty miles. The greatest economy, therefore, is practised on French roads. The average cost of fuel per mile run in the different countries is about 6 cents in England, 11 cents in France, and 18 cents in New York and Massachusetts. The average receipts per mile are : In New York, $1 76; Great Britain, $1 44 ; and France, $2 03. The speed of the British passenger trains exceeds that of the American, the average being twenty-eight miles an hour. The weight of these trains is much less than that of the American, being about 95 tuns in England, and 130 tuns in New York. The difference in speed is likewise accounted for by the lighter grades of the foreign lines. Besides this, the tracks are more carefully laid than is usual here; the cuttings are wider, the drainage very thorough, the ballasting twenty-six feet wide and two feet deep, the cross-ties nine feet long, and saturated either with coal tar, creosote, or sulphate of copper. The rails weigh seventy-two pounds to the yard, being in height five inches, and much more carefully m:tnufactured than in this country The cost of a mile of first-class English permanent way, at English prices, is but little more than that of a mile of ordinary American railway, at American prices. The passenger locomotives of Great Britain consume raw bituminous coal with entire success, and without smoke. In Belgium also this fuel is used. Mr. Colburn was of opinion, after a thorough examination of all the facts, that under the foreign system there was an absolute economy of 30 or 40 per cent over the corresponding results on American railways.
This article was originally published with the title "American and European Railroads" in Scientific American 13, 35, 280 (May 1858)