HC Deb 17 August 1893 vol 16 cc406-8
MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether an Order has been issued under the Regulation of Railways Act, providing that in all mixed trains the goods waggons must be placed behind the passenger carriages; whether he is aware that railway officials declare that the working of a train thus composed is impracticable, and that an adherence to the Order would result in the entire or partial abandonment of the system of mixed trains; whether he is aware that particularly on the single lines in the Highlands of Scotland, the public are indebted to the system of mixed trains for a very large part of the facilities for travelling which they possess, and are very unwilling that these should be curtailed by the operation of the Order; whether it can be shown that the mixed train system, as hitherto worked, has resulted in an undue proportion of accidents on the Highland Railways as compared with that of purely passenger trains, and has this new Order been issued in consequence of complaints from the public in regard to the present system; and whether, having regard to the fact that nearly one-half of the whole existing train service on the Highland and other railways in Scotland is carried on by mixed trains, the Government will reconsider this important matter, with a view of withdrawing or modifying the Order, in the interests both of the railways and of the travelling public?


The Board of Trade made an Order on 16th February, 1891, providing that in mixed trains the goods waggons must be placed behind the passenger carriages, and two years and six months was allowed for compliance with its requirements. It would be impossible to marshall the train in any other way without making the law as to the use of the automatic continuous brake on passenger carriages a dead letter. I am not aware that railway officials generally declare the working of the train thus composed to be unworkable; on the contrary, on a very large proportion of lines the practice is in force, and in some cases the carriages were so marshalled before the passing of the Act of 1889. It is generally admitted that there is much greater risk to passengers in mixed trains than in ordinary passenger trains; and having regard to the interests of the public safety and the obligations imposed on the Board of Trade by the Act of 1889, I am advised that the Order should not be withdrawn or modified. I am fully alive, however, to the convenience of mixed trains, and am anxious that the greatest possible facilities should be afforded to the travelling public; but such serious accidents have resulted from the conveyance of passengers in vehicles inadequately braked that the Board of Trade would fail in their duty if they disregarded the precautions ordained by Parliament.


Will the right hon. Gentleman specially consider the case of single lines as in the North of Scotland?


That case has been specially considered, and in all cases except that of the Highland line there had been general compliance with the Order. I am bound to say that so recently as 1892 there was a collision at Auchintullock, which might have been accompanied by grave loss of life, and in that case the Inspector specially reported that it was necessary to fit these trains with automatic brakes.

MR. BEITH (Inverness, &c.)

Has the right hon. Gentleman received a Memorial from the Chamber of Commerce of Inverness in which it is stated that the Order of the Board of Trade will be extremely detrimental to the convenience of the people in (ho North of Scotland and to trade generally?


I have received such a Memorial. If any application is made for mixed trains, with proper arrangements, we shall be happy to consider it; but no such application has been made.

DR. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)

Is it a fact that no accident has occurred on the Highland line to a mixed train?


That is not so. I have just quoted one case, and I am bound to point out that the worst accident that has happened of late—that in County Antrim—was to a mixed train, where there is not proper brake power on the carriages for passengers.


Will the matter be reconsidered if the Chamber of Commerce makes application?


No, Sir. I hope the Chamber of Commerce will not make itself the means of relieving the Railway Company of its duty to the public. The Company have had two-and-a-half years' notice, and have done nothing. They have never applied for a single mixed train till this day.

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