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the Railway Clearing-House

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CLEARING-HOUSE, THE RAILWAY, is an association instituted to enable railway companies in England and Scotland, to carry on, without interruption, the through traffic in passengers, animals, minerals, and goods passing over different lines of rail ways, and to afford to the traffic the same facilities as if the different lines had belonged to one company. The arrangements are called "the clearing system," and are con ducted by a committee appointed by the directors of the companies who are parties to it. The business is carried on in a building in Seymour street, London, adjoining the Easton station. The association is regulated by act of parliament, 13 and 14 Viet. 33 (25th June, 1850), called "The Railway Clearing Act, 1830! Any railway company may apply for ad mission to the system, and, on being accepted, becomes a party to it. The companies are each represented on the committee by a delegate. Ten delegates from a quorum. The com mittee holds stated meetings on the second Wednesday in Mar., June, Sept., and Dec. in every year, and at such other times as may be found necessary. The accounts of the clearing system, and the balances due to and from the several companies, are settled and adjusted by the secretary of the committee, with appeal to the committee, whose decision is final. The expenses are defrayed ratably by the companies. The clerks at stations of the various companies send abstracts of all traffic monthly. The collected passenger-tickets are also sent monthly. Number-men are employed by the clearing house, who attend at each railway junction, and watch the arrival and departure of every train passing the junction. They note the number of every carriage. horse-box, wagon. van, and sheet or wagon-cover on the train going beyond the parent line, and also all damaged stock, and make weekly returns. The destination of each wagon is also noted. The returns from the companies' stations. together with those of the num ber-men, enable the accounts to be made up at the clearing-house, and, after examin ation, the companies are debited and credited, as the case may be. A debtor and creditor account is sent from the clearing-house monthly to each company, showing, on the one side, what the company has to receive from others as their proportion of through passenger-fares, through goods rates and mileage of carriages, wagons, and sheets, and, on the other side, what the company has to pay to others out of moneys drawn by them. The balance is struck, and, if against the company, a remittance must he made. If the balance is on passenger traffic or stock, it is due five days after the date of the clearing house advice. The other balances must be paid within 23 days. Interest at the rate of

7 per cent per annum is charged on outstanding balances. The cost of maintaining the clearing-house, with its officers and numerous clerks and number-men, is appor tioned amongst the respective companies—(1.) Iii proportion to the number of entries at the credit of each in the mileage account; (2.) In the ratio of the number of vehicles and sheets recorded by the number-men; and (3.) According to the time occupied on the accounts.

Regulations are published annually by the clearing-house in Jan., for the guidance of the different companies in connection with the system. These determine the principles of classification of goods, division of rates, terminal allowances, payment for loss or damage of goods, and . other points. A conitoittee of general managers is appointed, whose duty it is to arbitrate on claims for damages to rolling-stock. A com mittee of goods' managers adjudicate cases of disputed liability which relate to goods' traffic. A committee of coaching superintendents perform a similar duty with reference to coaching or passenger traffic. The mileage of carriages is also regulated, being three farthings per m. first-class, and a half-penny for second. A varying rate for wagons and sheets is allowed according to distance, the charge for distances under 150 m. being about one half-penny for box-wagons, 1 of a penny for open wagons, and of a penny for sheets. If carriages are detained beyond one clear day, demurrage is charged at the rate of 10s. per day for first-class carriages, and 6s. for second-class. If wagons are detained beyond two clear days, 3s. a day is charged. Sheets, after two days, are charged 6d. for the first day, and ls. per day after. The terminal allowances are Ss. 6d. per ton in London, and 4s. in the country for carted goods; ls. Gd. per ton when not carted.

The number of companies parties to the clearing-system was recently between 00 and 100, and the amount of business of an intricate kind which was involved may be judged of from the foregoing particulars. In short, the clearing-house system of Great Britain is a, vast organization, adapted, in an extraordinary degree, to save trouble in accounting, as well as to prevent petty disputes, among the individual companies con cerned. The very circumstance of the great bulk of the used passenger-tickets in the kingdom being transmitted to a common center for adjustment as to the claims of one company against another, affords, in itself, a remarkable instance of an ingenious system for elaborating simplicity out of what would almost appear a commercial chaos.—There is a similar railway clearing-house system in Ireland, with headquarters in Dublin.