rails tons rail miles railway iron wheels line hour inches
RAILWAYS had their origin in the tramways which were laid more than two hundred years ago in the mineral districts of England for the conveyance of coal to the sea. In those days, before Macadam, roads bearing heavy traffic were with difficulty kept in repair. This led to the plan of laying planks or timbers at the bottom of the ruts as a better contrivance than filling in with stones, and then to laying rails of timber on the level surface. In 1676 tramways consisted of rails of timber laid " from the colliery to the river, exactly straight and parallel, and bulky carts were made with four rollers fitting the rails, whereby the carriage was so easy that one horse would draw down four or five chaldron of coals." The rails originally were formed of scantlings of good sound oak, and were con-nected by sills or cross timbers of the same material pinned together with oak trenails. By and by an additional or wearing rail, which could be easily renewed when worn, was placed above the supporting rail, and it was then possible to cover the cross pieces or sleepers with earth to protect them from the horses' feet. These ways, laid by permis-sion of local proprietors, were called " way-leaves." It became a common practice to nail down bars of wrought iron on the surfaces of the ascending inclines of the road. These bars or rails were about 2 inches wide and half an inch thick, and were fastened to the wood rails by counter-sunk spikes. But the iron bars, not being stiff enough, were considerably bent when the trucks were loaded, and the resistance was. reduced but slightly below that of a well-constructed double wooden tramway.2 Nevertheless, while the regular load of coals for one horse on the common road wa-s but 17 cwt., on the tramway the horse could regularly take a load of 42 cwt. Cast-iron was first tried I incidentally as a material for rails in 1767 by the Coal-brookdale Iron Company. The iron rails were cast in lengths of 5 feet, 4 inches wide, and 1-/- inches thick, formed with three holes, through which they were fastened to the oak mils. The tramway was developed into the railway by the em-ployment of cast-iron flange rails (fig. 1) to replace the wooden rails ; the continuous flange or ledge on their inner edge kept the wheels on the track. The roads were then called tram-roads, probably as an abbreviation of trammel-roads, the flanges of the rails being in reality trammels to gauge the road and confine the wheels to _ _ " edge rails," raised above the ground so as to allow a flanged cast-iron wheel to run on them (fig. 2). This appear; to have been the first system of rail; laid on cast-iron chairs and on sleepers. The rails were pinned or bolted intc the chairs. A wrought-iron rail Iva: patented by Birkenshaw in 1820, aE. the "fish-belly " rail, similar in fornr and mode of support to Jessop's rail but rolled in continuous lengths embracing a number of spans, Avid stiffenine ledges or flanues on thE under side. This form of rail grew into favour. It weighed 33 lb per yard, and was laid in cast-iron chairs, spiked down to square stone blocks at 3-feet bearings (see feet 8/- inches, and two parallel lines of way were spaced with 6 feet between the inner rails of the ways. This interspace is popularly known as the " six-foot."
The benefits derived from the use of the tramway or railway for the transport of coal suggested to reflective persons the employment of it for the conveyance of general merchandise and of passengers. For the conveyance of heavy merchandise inland the canals little more than sixty years ago furnished the principal means. Though there were three such water-routes between Liverpool and Man-chester, they were sometimes so crowded that cotton took a month to pass from the seaport to the manufacturing towns in the interior ; yet the whole of the merchandise passing between Liverpool and Manchester did not average more than 1200 tons a day. The avemge rate of carriage was 18s. per ton, and the avemge time of transit on the 50 miles of canal was thirty-six hours. The conveyance of passengers by the improved coach-roads was comparatively rapid, but it was very costly. The first great movement to mend this st,ate of things was the passing of the Act in 1821 for the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Colliery railways were in evidence to prove the benefits of railway communication by steam-power. The Hetton Railway, for instance, in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, from the colliery to the river Wear, was 7 miles long, and tmins of 60 tons net weight were taken over the line at a speed of 4i miles per hour. On the Killingworth Rail-way an engine and tender weighing 10 tons drew a load of 40 tons at a speed of 6 miles per hour, consuming 50 lb of coal per mile run. Whilst animal-power only was at first relied on for working the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the Act provided for working with men and horses or " otherwise." By another Act applied for at the request of George Stephenson, who became engineer to the line, the company was empowered to work the railway with locomotive engines. The line, with three branches, was over 38 miles in length, and was at first laid as a single line, with passing places at intervals of a quarter of a mile, the way being constructed with wrought-iron fish-belly rails, -weighing 28 lb per yard. It was opened in September 1825 by a train of thirty-four vehicles, making a gross load of about 90 tons, drawn by one engine driven by Stephenson, with a signalman on horseback in advance. The train moved off at the rate of from 10 to 12 miles an hour, and attained a speed of 15 miles per hour on favour-able parts of the line. A train weighing 92 tons could be drawn by one engine at the rate of 5 miles per hour. The principal business of the new railway was the conveyance of minerals and goods, but from the first passengers in-sisted upon being carried, and in October 1825 the com-pany began to run a daily coach, called the "Experiment," to carry six inside, and from fifteen to twenty outside, making the journey from Darlington to Stockton and back in two hours. The fare was ls., and each passenger was allowed to take baggage not exceeding 14 lb weight. 'The rate for carriage of merchandise was reduced from 5d. to one-fifth of a penny per ton per mile, and that of minerals from 7d. to lid. per too. per mile. The price of coals at Darlington fell from 18s. to 8s. 6d. per ton.
The Monklands Railway in Scotland, opened in 1826, was the first to follow the example of the Stockton and Darlington line, and several other small lines - including the Canterbury and Whitstable, worked partly by fixed engines and partly by locomotives - quickly adopted steam-traction. But the inauguration of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1829, made the first great impression on the national mind that a revolution in the modes of travelling had really taken place. In 1838 a line was opcned between London and Birmingham, and the first train accomplished the whole distance-1121 miles - at an avemge speed of over 20 miles per hour. The London and Greenwich, the London and Southamp-ton, the Great Western, Birmingham and Derby, Bristol and Exeter, Eastern Counties, Manchester and Leeds, Grand Junction, -Midland Counties, North Midland, South-Eastern, London and Brighton, Manchester and Birming-ham, and Edinburgh and Glasgow, together with many small Bills, were all passed within four years from the time of the passing of the London and Birmingham Bill. Thus in the course of four or five years the foundations were laid of most of the existing trunk line,s of railway in Great Britain. The original Liverpool and Manchester line, 30i- miles in length, now forms part of a network of lines, the property of one company, nearly 1800 miles in extent, representing a capital invested in railway works and plant of £100,000,000.
Meantime the construction of the way was the subject of much consideration. The fish-belly form of wrought-iron rail was troublesome to roll, and so the flat-bottom or flat-foot rail (fig. 4) was designed, combining a solid head with a flange base. This rail, with holes through the flange to hold the spikes, was used to some extent, and was laid on longi-tudinal timber sleepers, and also on transverse sleepers. The disadvantage was want of vertical stiffness of the system; and, if the mil was made higher, it was liable to rock on the sleeper and work loose on the spikes. This rail, known as the Vignoles rail, has been much improved in form and proportions and is extensively used. The bridge rail (fig. 5) - so called because it was first laid on bridges - was that first used on the Great Western Railway, and is of a shallow section, but wide, and possessed of lateral stiffness. The first line was a series of beech 6.u.ve"..- piles, 12 inches square, driven into the FIG. 5. - The badge ground, to which were bolted at the sur- ran high by 6 inches wide, weighing 62 per yard. The screws which held down the rails were counter-sunk be-neath the wheel-flanges, and nut-headed on the other side (see fig. 6). In consequence of the want of depth in the rails, they bent longitudinally under the wheels, and the horizontal flanges curled up at the sides, while the holes through them bent into angles. One remedy tried was to cross-board the longitudinal timb'ers on the surface, and thus the fibre was made less yielding.
The double-headed rail (fig. 7) was originated by Joseph Locke, and was first laid on the Grand Junction Railway. It also weighed 62 lb per yard. The two tables were equal; the rail was more easily rolled than others, and, being reversible, it was in fact two rails in one. But as it was laid in cast-iron chairs the lower table was exposed to damage under the hammering of the traffic; and many engineers were led to make the lower table of smaller size, as in fig. 8, merely as a support, not as a surface to be used by the wheels. This rail, which acquired the title of " bull-headed," was, like the flat-foot and bridge rails, used as a prop supported on its base. There was a waste of metal in these early rails, both flat-foot and double-headed, owing to the excessive thickness of the vertical web, which has been corrected in recent designs. It was found, naturally, that rails would not rest in their chairs at the joints, but were loosened and bruised at the ends by the blows of the traffic. The fish-joint was therefore devised in 1847 by Mr W. Bridges Adams, the intention being by "fishing " the joints to convert the rails into continuous beams. In the original design two chairs were placed, one under each rail, a few inches apart, as in fig. 9. The joint was thus suspended between the two chairs, and two keys of iron, called " fishes," fitting the side channels of the rails, were driven in on each side between the chairs and the rails. In subsequent modifications the fishes were, and they continue to be, bolted to and through the rails, the sleepers being placed further apart, and the joint sus-pended between them.
In the employment of steam-power for traction on rail-ways rapid progress was made in response to the demand chester line but for the invention and construction of the first high-speed locomotive of the standard modern type. Robert Stephenson's engine, the " Rocket," was made under competition for the Liverpool and Manchester Rail-way, and it gained the prize for lightness, power, and speed awarded by the directors. The two steam-cylinders of the "Rocket" were 8 inches in diameter, with 16i inches of stroke, and the driving-wheels were 4 feet inches in diameter. The engine weighed 4 tons 5 cwt., the tender following it 3 tons 4 cwt., and two loaded carriages drawn by it on the trial 9 tons 11 cwt. : thus the weight drawn was 12 tons 15 cwt., and the gross total 17 tons. The pressure of steam in the boiler was 50 lb per square inch. An average speed of 14 miles per hour was attained, the greatest velocity being 29 miles per hour ; and the boiler evaporated 181 cubic feet, or 114 gallons, of water per hour. The "Rocket " possessed the three elements of effi-ciency of the modern locomotive, - the internal water-surrounded fire-box and the multitubular flue in the boiler, or a number of small tubes in place of one large tube ; the blast-pipe, by which the waste steam of the engine was exhausted up the chimney ; and the direct connexion of the two steam-cylinders, one on each side of the engine, with the driving or propelling wheels, on one axle. The subdivision of the single large flue, up to that time in general use in locomotives, into a number of small tubes greatly accelerated the generation of steam without adding to the size or weight of the boiler. But the evaporating tubes would have been of little avail practically had they not been supplemented by the blast-pipe, which, by ejecting the steam from the engine after it had done its work in the cylinder straight up the chimney, excited a strong draught through the boiler and caused a brisk and rapid combustion of fuel and generation of heat. The heat was absorbed with proportional rapidity through. the newly applied heat-ing-tubes. The blast-pipe, thus applied, in conjunction with the multitubular flue, vastly improved the capacity and usefulness of the locomotive. And, taking into account the direct connexion of the steam-cylinder with one axle and pair of wheels, the improvements were tantamount to a new and original machine. The "Rocket " subsequently drew an average gross load of 40 tons behind the tender at a speed of 13.3 miles per hour. The old Killingworth engine, one of the earlier type of locomotives constructed by George Stephenson, weighing with its tender 10 tons, could only work at a maximum of 6 miles per hour with 50 tons.
For many years engines belonged to two general classes. In one class there were six wheels, of which one pair was placed behind the boiler, typified in the engines of the day made by Robert Stephenson ; in the other class there were but four wheels, placed under the barrel of the boiler, leaving the fire-box overhung, typified in the engines made by Bury for the London and Birmingham Railway. Ex-perience demonstrated the disadvantage of an overhanging mass, with a very limited wheel-base, in the four-wheeled engine running at high speed; and now it is the general practice to apply six wheels at least to all ordinary loco-motive stock. The earliest four-wheeled locomotive con-structed by Robert Stephenson and Co. as an article of regular manufacture weighed 9 tons in working order. The six-wheeled engines which followed weighed 11/ tons. In the course of business locomotives of greater power and greater weight were constructed ; and there are loco-motives of the present timo which weigh 47i tons in working order, and with the tender full of water and coal about 80 tons gross. There are other engines of special design with twelve wheels which weigh in working order, with fuel and water, 72 tons. The contrast is emphasized in the history of the old Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway, which was opened about the year 1829. The first engines of that line weighed from 8 to 9 tons. They had steam-cylinders 11 inches in diameter, and 4-feet wheels of cast-iron, with a working pressure in the boiler of 50 lb per square inch. The " Garnkirk" engine used to take a train of three carriages, together weighing 7 tons gross, at the average speed of 16 miles per hour between Glasgow and Gartsherrie. When the old line, 8 miles in length, was merged in the Caledonian Railway, now comprising a system of nearly 1000 miles in length, the power of the engines was greatly increased, and at this day (1885) there are express passenger engines working over the same ground having large cylinders of 17 or 18 inches in diameter, and wheels of 7 and 8 feet in diameter, weighing from 35 to 45 tons. These engines, with steam of 120 lb pressure per square inch, take a. gross load of 90 tons at a speed of from 40 to 50 miles per hour.