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English Vs. American Railroads

English Vs. American Railroads image
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The follcmiug article has beeu handed to the Argns by a railroad official with the reqnest that it bepublisbed in its columns. In an artiole in the Pbiladelphia Inquirer, dealing witb soiae phases of the railway pioblem in Great Britain and the United States, Robert P. Porter says : "The most superficial observer mnst 1 e struok with the widely different treatment aecorded railway enterprise by the legislators of the two countries. In England the railways have been treated witb reasonable intelligence, and, while Parliament bas insisted upon equal and reasonable rates, they have not, as in this country, been tied up by an Interstate law, wfaioh forbids freedom of oontract for the purpose of nnifiuation of charges at competing points, nor haiassed in a thousand different ways by alinost half a hnndred legislatures, with unlimited power and great inolinatioa for local mischief. As a result of this polioy, the returns of the British railways for 1896 show these properties to be in exceedingly prosperous oondition, nearly all tbe stocks bringing fair dividends, the interest on the loans and bonds prmnptly paid, the wages of the employés on some roads volnntarily iuoreased, and an inoreased employrnent, botb in tbe shops aud on tbe traoks. , "Last year the Statistician of tbe Interstate Commeroe Commiseion, when oontemplating the fact that in two years our tailways bad run behind over $75,000,000, remarked: 'Shoüld tbis oontinue, either the investments or tbe credits of Railways must disappear. ' In the United States the credit bas already gone and the investment is rapidly following. About 13,500,000,000, or over 70 per cent of tbe capital stock of railways pays no dividend whatever. In England the returns of 1896 show that ODly $385,000,000, or about eight per cent of the capital stock is tmremnnerative. In England tbe dividends average noarly fonr per oent; in the United States last year only about oue and oue-balf per cent. "In the United Kingdom, the interest of no loans nor bonds went by default. The report says of about $5,000,000 'not entitled to interest,' and interest ranging from two to flve per cent and over was paid in t!i loans and debentures, aggregating about $1,450,000,000. As an oftset to this healthy showing, we have about $890,000,000 of the bonds of American railways in defanlt, or nearly 1? per cent of the whole. As investments for saving funds, with a few noted exceptions, the American railway security outs no figure. On the other hand, English railway securities are looked upon in that country as excellent stocks to buy, not for speoulation, hut investment. As a conseqnenoe, English railways can comruand all the neoessary capital to carry on needed improvement and employ the full quota of hands."


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News