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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90
(1888-1889)

Sweden and Norway,   pp. 1474-1495 PDF (9.2 MB)


Page 1481


SWEDEN AND NORWAY.
  The surplus, after cost of maintenance and opetating expenses were
deducted, amounted on the state roads to 2.41 per cent. on the amount in-
vested, while on the private roads the per cent. was 3.54.
  The state has assisted some private roads with loans, and allows gen-
erally the private roads to use crown lands, rock from crown quarries,
and gravel necessary for construction. The state has loaned to pri'
vate roads, for which it holds the bonds of the companies, the sum of
$12,893,555. It has for the same purpose appropriated, without obliga-
tion for repayment, the sum of $1,053,992.
  The amount of the funded debt created in constructing railroads is
$65,548,861, and the interest thereon is at an average of 4 per cent.
per annum. The revenues of the state roads, as well as of roads that
have been assisted by the state, are deposited in the state bank. If
there is a deficit in the revenue the state appropriates, in case of state
railway, sufficient to meet the requirement. The share holders of pri-
vate corporations must take care of their obligations.
  I may add that the railway service in this country, in construction,
equipment, convenience, cleanliness, promptness, is far superior to what
I have ever seen in Germany, France, or Belgium. There are usually
four classes of wagons. The large majority of passengers ride in the
third and fourth class. First-class carriages are more expensive than
the best service on American railways. The rate of speed is only about
20 miles an hour, but this includes stops, which are very frequent, and
are from three to thirty minutes in length. The stations are large,
usually constructed of either stone or brick, well lighted and warmed
in winter time, and have always connected with them a good cafr or
restaurant. No person can enter a compartment without a ticket, and
all tickets are shown and punched before the train leaves the station.
All passenger-cars are heated by steam and lighted by gas. Each train is
moved by signals, and from the moment of arrival to its departure from
the station is under the authority of the station-master. Every em-
ploy6 is uniformed and bears a badge designating his position. Every
six English or one Swedish mile there is a signal-house, with telegraph
apparatus, and occupied by two persons, called track-walkers. Upon
the passage of a train it is signaled ahead, while the men walk in op-
posite directions on the track one half the distance to the next signal
station for the purpose of inspecting the road. Every possible pre-
caution is taken to prevent accidents, and in my now nearly three
years' residence in this country there has not been a life lost in the rail-
way service or any accident.
   No one is permitted to walk or be on or within the right of way or
 to loiter about stations or grounds of the company. The masonry used
 in the building of piers, abutments, etc., is of the most substantial
 character, while all bridges, culverts, and trestle-work are of iron. The
 track is usually ballasted with gravel, with stone gullies to carry off
 the water, while the banks or sides of both cuts and fills are sodded.
 The railroads of no country can possibly be superior or even equal
 to those of Sweden in respect .to construction, and they well might
 serve as models. There is perfect security and much more than ordi-
 nary comfort in traveling, the only drawback to the American traveler
 being the slowness of time. The roads are managed in the interests of
 the people. There is no speculation in their shares, there is no adverse
 criticism of their management, and the total results are that, so far as
 it goes, it is one of the best, if not the best, railway system in the
 world. Certainly in many respects it is superior to American.
1481


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