HC Deb 06 August 1869 vol 198 cc1433-4

said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether he was enabled to inform the House whether any and what steps had been taken to carry into effect the provisions of the Act of Parliament for securing the means of communication between the passengers and the guards on railways? There had been a delay of eight months in taking the necessary measures with that object, and something in the shape of a temporary method had, he understood, been adopted in some instances, a rope being extended from carriage to carriage. A letter had appeared in The Times within the last two or three days which gave reason to believe that the railway companies had not done all that was required of them in the matter. On the whole, he was led to the belief that the railway companies had not, as a general rule, established any uniform or efficient means of communication between the passengers and guard. Consequently, numerous letters of complaint had been sent to the public Press, and various newspapers had drawn attention to the subject. The result of the twelve months' delay had been that the railway companies proposed to establish a cord communication. He trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would state Ms opinion whether a cord or rope communication was the most efficient that could be provided. The South Eastern Railway had been fitted up with Mr. Deacon's apparatus, and the result had been that in 500 cases there had been only three failures, and in another 714 cases only seven failures, and those even had been accounted for. Colonel Yolland, in his valuable Report on this subject, had strongly condemned the cord system. He would now read to the House the opinion expressed by Mr. Martin. ["No, no!"and "Agreed!"] At all events, as this was a matter affecting the safety of railway travellers, he hoped the House would permit him to state the objections which had been urged by scientific and practical men against the adoption of the rope system-Communication by means of a rope placed outside the carriage would certainly not be efficient. Ladies and infirm old gentlemen could not put their heads out of the window to pull the rope, while the amount of slack was so great that it would require considerable strength to communicate with the guard. It had likewise been urged that in winter time the frost and snow would prevent the rope system from acting, and that, indeed, its adoption was a compliance with the letter but not with the spirit of the statute. In conclusion, he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether any railway companies had neglected to comply with the provisions of the Act; and, if so, whether they had assigned any reasons for such non-compliance?