26. BRITISH RAILWAYS. Comparisons and Contrasts Between the Railway Systems of Great Britain and the United States.— "The plastic American instinct has introduced the wholesale principle into regions where the slower-witted nations of Europe have never thought of applying it. The factory life of England is new and British manufacturers fully appreciate the economies to be effected by turn ing out pins by the million gross, cotton yarn by the million pounds, and steel rails by the tens of thousands of tons. But the Americans have applied the principle to businesses which have existed since the dawn of civilization. Their hotel-keeping is wholesale; their is wholesale; and, most of all, their transportation system is wholesale. The English fanner still looks upon the railway train as only a slightly magnified carrier's cart, and persists in sending his basket of eggs or his hamper of vegetables to market, as his grandfather did when George III was king. The American farmer does his business in carloads.** The writer, in a book written by 27 years ago, after his first visit to the United States, pointed out in these words what seemed to him then, as it seems to him now, the essen tial differentia between English and American railroading, and suggested that the difference is not accidental and specific, but part of the generic difference between the two countries which naturally arises from their different his and geographical position.
But there are other important differences between the railways of England and the United States. England is an island, and a small one; America is a great continent. The maximum possible haul within the British Isles is just about as far as from New York to Chicago. In fact there is practically no traffic here requir mg to be carried any such distance. If it did, it would probably go by water, for there is no place in Great Britain more than 80 miles from a sea port. Anything over 100 miles is referred to in England as a long haul; in the United States the average haul of freight is 156 miles. the average passenger journey in the United States is 33 miles; in Great Britain it is prob ably — accurate statistics do not exist — about 10 miles.
Again, Great Britain is densely populated; the United States is the reverse. On one twenty-fifth of the area of the United States, England has half as much population. Natu rally, therefore, while the United States has fewer miles of railway per square mile of area Great Britain has fewer miles per thousand of the population. Roughly, the United States has eight and one-half miles of railways per 100 square miles of area ; Great Britain has over 19 miles. But in Great Britain there is a mile of line for every 2,000 of the population ; in the United States a mile of line for every 400. The population of Great Britain and, therefore, its intercourse, per mile being so much greater, it is also natural that a mile of railway is a much more elaborate thing than in the United States. For every route mile in the United States there are one and one-half miles of track, while in Great Britain there are nearly two and one-half miles. In equipment the contrast is even greater. With only one-tenth of the mileage of railways in the United States, Great Britain has nearly two-fifths the number of locomotives, half as many more passenger cars, and nearly as many more freight cars.* Put another way, a mile of English railway represents an ex penditure of almost as many pounds as a mile of American railway represents dollars; a mile of English line earns gross two dollars for every dollar that an American mile earns and earns net in the ratio of three to one. In Great Britain the railway occupies in great measure the place of the street car of the United States, and is the means by which large sections of the population move daily to and from their work. And whereas the typical freight consign ment in the United States is a *straight* car load of produce carried for a long distance, the typical consignment in Great Britain is a single box, or bag, or bale, or other package of manu factured articles, carried from one town to an other closely adjacent.