§ MR. FORREST FULTON (West, Ham, N.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state how long it is since the viaduct between Balcombe and Hayward's Heath, and the Balcombe tunnel itself, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, have been inspected by the officials of the Board of Trade; and whether he is aware that, having regard to the marshy character of the ground beneath the foundations and the enormous increase of traffic in recent years, a very general opinion exists that the viaduct and the tunnel are not sufficiently secure?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The Board of Trade has never been entrusted by Parliament with the duty of periodically inspecting railway works, but the viaduct and tunnel in question were inspected in the usual course upon opening in 1841 by a Government Inspector. Having communicated with the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company, I am informed that the viaduct between Balcombe and Hayward's Heath has recently been inspected by Sir John Fowler, who reports that he has examined every pier and arch and finds the structure (which is exceptionally strong) in excellent condition. He adds that the viaduct is maintained in the same sound state of efficiency as on the day of its completion. As regards the Balcombe tunnel, the company state that it is under constant supervision by their engineering staff, who are of opinion that it is in as good a state of preservation as when originally constructed.