10 APRIL 1920, Page 23

Historical Sketch of State Railway Ownership. By W. M. Acworth.

(Murray. 3s. 6d. net.)—Mr. Acworth's little book was written for submission to a Committee of the American Congress which was inquiring into railway problems in 1916. As a summary of facts relating to State railways it is invaluable. It will not bring much comfort to those who call for " nationaliza- tion," for it shows " that a democratic Government cannot, with the ordinary political machinery, successfully run a com- mercial business." Mr. Acworth is prepared for the inevitable reference to the Prussian State railways. A despot, like the ex-King of Prussia, may, he admits, achieve greater success as a railway manager than a democratic Government like that of New South Wales. But he proves that the Prussian State railways compared very poorly for efficiency and cheapness with the privately managed railways of America, and also that they were worked at greater cost and charged higher rates than the French railway companies before the war. England, France, and America have led the railway world in improvements, but "it would be difficult to mention a single reform for which the world is indebted to the State railways of Prussia." Mr. Acworth's chapter on " Railways and Politics " deserves attentive reading. In South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Italy, the working of State railways has been hindered by similar political difficulties, and the trader and the community have suffered.