- Transcribed by Barb Baker Barb Baker
- Edition: January 17, 1874 January 17, 1874
RAILWAY DISASTERS IN DECEMBER.
The list for the past month (say the "Pall-mall Gazette") gives twenty-eight railway disasters, of which one only was a genuine 'accident ', being caused by the violence of the gale which raged all over the island about the middle of December.
Twenty-one were collisions entirely preventible and the clear result of gross negligence. In these twenty-one collisions, three persons have been killed, the life of another is despaired of, and ninety-five are reported more or less seriously injured, of whom about sixteen are very dangerously hurt.
On a rough calculation, about 160 have been bruised, cut, and severely shaken. We have no means of computing the degree of loss caused by breakage and damage done to stock, lines and material; but it must be enormous. The compensation hereafter to be paid to injured passengers, and the costs of all kinds to be defrayed where cases are brought into law courts, will be a serious diminution of the shareholders' dividends, far more, probably, than would have been involved by a general rise of wages, shortening of hours, and the adoption of the block system, interlocking points and continuous breaks.
If a schoolmaster inquires as to the culprit in the case of some misdemeanour or reasonable joke, there is often a chorus of young voices uniting in the cry, "Please, sir, it wasn't me", and the reply of the various railway chairmen to MR. CHICESTER FORTESCUE's circular seems like an echo in a bass voice of the little boys' defence.
Nevertheless, there has been, since the issue of that letter, a perceptible though not a relatively large improvement on the returns, and from the notice published by several boards of premiums offered to such of their servants as shall not within the space of three months or one year be reported against for negligence or recklessness, it is obvious that the railway authorities perfectly understand not only their situation with regard to the just requirements of the travelling public, but the means by which safety can be almost certainly ensured.