29 DECEMBER 1855, Page 12


THE dispute of the Eastern Counties Railway is the story, re- hearsed for the ten thousandth time, of the gold and silver shield. The antagonists are describing the same object in incompatible terms, because they look only at their own side, and are obstinately incapable of passing over to see how the object looks from the opposite points of view. The Committee of Investigation re- presented that their dividends were steadily and progressively de- clining, with nil in prospect ; their stores eaten up by peculation, which was veiled over and had consumed an unknown amount of property-10,000/. or 40,0001. worth ; their permanent way so neglected that 150,000/. would be required to put it in an effective condition ; their capital account swelled for the purpose of entering into undertakings profitless to them and extenuating their dividend proportionately ; their line made the tool of alien enterprises, in which their directors have become shareholders, but in which they have no interest—their means employed to set up other railway ---r 1...t companies, dancing-saloons, and even branch railways that " tapped " their line, for the benefit of parties who became at once contractors and parasites to the main business. And the worst of it was, that they had a chair- man who connived at this prostitution of the Eastern Counties' property to the purpose of the foreign enterprise ; who connived at the preposterous percentages drawn by a mismanaging locomo- tive superintendent, at the peculation in the stores, at the general waste of the line. If our readers will turn back to our number for December 1, page 1235, they will see that this is no exaggera- tion, but simply an epitome of the View presented by the Com- mittee of Investigation.

Mr. Waddington, describing the same railway, just inverts the picture. The dividends of the Eastern Counties, he assures us, in- stead of declining and threatening to become nil, are rising, having been rescued from that condition of nullity. Five years ago they were nil, the amount shown under the head of profits being only 56241.; whereas they have risen since that to 55,731/. for the half- year. The permanent way has not been neglected ; nor have the present directors spent only 3200/. over 548 miles of railway, but they have spent 22,000/. within the year. The engineer does not report that 150,000/. ought to be spent on the permanent way at once; on the contrary, he says that 50,000/. should be spent on works, and 100,000/. on completions and repairs spread over ten years. If there had been some neglect, it is ascribed to Mr. Ash- croft, the engineer whom Mr. Waddington found in office ; and the neglect is repaired. If there had been any peculation in the stores, it was Mr. Waddington who had detected it, and had stopped it ; so that the loss is terminated, and is known to be under 50001., probably not more than 1823/., instead of being 40,000/. or 10,0001. The means of the Company have not been lavished upon extraneous enterprises ; but if collateral enterprises have been en- couraged by the assistance of the Company, the speculation was necessary in order to protect the line from competition, or it has positively paid ; and in all cases the result has been an increase to the general prosperity of the railway. Thus, Lowestoft, which promises to be a harbour important to the country, is now a rising town with a traffic of its own ; it is the port of importation for about half of the German cattle-trade which reaches this country ; and it furnishes a thoroughly paying traffic ; while the average re- ceipts per train for the half-year ending 30th June 1855 were 4s. 93d., these cattle returned more than 5s. per train per mile. The Tilbury line would have been a competing line if the Waddington policy had not secured its being brought into the general scheme of the Eastern Counties network. It was constructed by Messrs. Pete, Betts, and Brassey, who were able to fulfil the requirements of the act by defining the cost beforehand. The running tolls which they pay on a portion of the Eastern Counties line give less than their proportion of distance : for example, out of ls. Gd. for a distance of twenty-one miles, they pay to the Eastern Counties 6d. for a distance of five. So the coal company, the boats to Ipswich, and the boats to Antwerp, the entertainments at Woolwich, the market-tickets, have all contributed to draw traffic on to the line of the Eastern Counties. Every increase to the capital has been attended by a proportionate increase of profit ; and if the joint in- crease were to go on at the same proportion, the dividends, which were nil at the time when Mr. Waddington was called to the chair, "would be five per cent."' • Those who desire to look further into the controversy should read Mr. Waddington's published Answer—a folio volume of 108 pages, somewhat like a Parliamentary paper. Its length precludes our doing justice to it in a

This statement demands the careful attention of filo Aare-, holders. The new account is exactly opposed to the state.ment_of. Mr. Bruce and of the Committee ot.kvestigatioe ; ervd if we place implicit credence in Mr. Waddington, we must suppose the gentlemen on the other side to deserve an epithet as to their-state- ments which is never used in polite society. We are far, how- ever, from supposing that they deserve any such oondenination. It would, then, appear to be logically necessary, that if they are truth-telling persons, Mr. Waddington is the reverse. We would be the last to fix any such charge upon him. How, then, recon- cile the two statements P We believe that they are irreconcileable. "The fact is, that both sides seriously, though unintentionally, falsify their own account : each takes one part of the subject, makes statements that are more or less accurate respecting that

part, but puts it before the shareholders and the public as being a statement of the whole case. The Eastern Counties shareholders

look only to the Eastern Counties and East Anglian branches of the railway, and of the subject. They find that their co-tenants of the territory have dragged them into very extensive operations; that they have become shareholders, not only in their own proper line of railway, which they originally meant to found, maintain, and trade upon, but in railways to places which they know nothing about, in steam-boats, harbours, graving-docks, and dancing- saloons. They see that their stores have gone; they note that a pushing officer takes more out of their pockets by percentages than by the direct salary ; they observe Mr. Waddington, at the top of affairs, in the main contented with the state of things; they find that their profits would be greater if their own line were left to itself, with the traffic upon it : and thus their ease is made out. But they take an impossible position. They could not isolate their railway, or their own part thereof, and also enjoy the traffic which now flows upon it. On the contrary, even if they were content to do without the traffic artificially attracted by the steam- boats, the harbour-construction, the feeding-lines, and the dancing-

saloons, they have no right to presume that they would have the same amount of ordinary coming and going proper to their Ottnf particular branch. It is evident from Mr. Waddington's state• ment, that if the old policy of isolation had been pursued, the Tilbury line would have been not a parasite but a oompetiter tke.

Great Northern, instead of being an ally, content to reciprocate conveniences and leave the Eastern Counties to its own district, would have been " tapping" the Cambridge line, and supplying a direct Norfolk; while the steam-boats themselves, sailing on "their own hook," would have been rivalling instead of feeding the lines; and then some of the traffic that goes through Essex would have gone round the county on both sides. Mr. Waddington points exultingly to a map which he gives of the Eastern Counties, oc- cupied entirely by one system of railways, and that system, he says to the shareholders, "your own." The main object of his policy was to secure that unity in the district which would other- wise have been divided into uneven quarters between the East Anglian, Eastern Counties, the Eastern Union, and the Norfolk, but which now belongs to the railways amalgamated under the one title of Eastern Counties.

This is true ; but it does not answer the separate Eastern Coun- ties cate. When the Tilbury line was designed on its present plan,

the shares were thrown open to the Blackwell Company on the one side and the Eastern Counties on the other. The Blackwell pro- prietors took up the bulk of their 20,000 shares ; the Eastern Counties took scarcely any. It is part of the defence of the terms allowed to the Tilbury Company, that they deserve consideration because they have to pay 6 per cent upon 400,000/. of capital. But what is that to those Eastern Counties shareholders who took no shares ?. From the Bruce, Cambridge, or Lynn Regis point of view, the interests of the original Company are sacrificed to the Tilbury scheme. Again, Mr. Waddington excuses the 14,000/. or

15,000/. spent in a graving-dock at Lowestoft,—which "has, no doubt, been a cause of considerable anxiety to the engineers and

all concerned,"—on the ground that the present proprietors and directors are not responsible, for it was begun before the amalga- mation, and "it was the policy of the Norfolk Company to give facilities to the North of Europe Steam Ship Company, which has

its establishment of steam-vessels at Lowestoft." Exactly; that is just one of the charges made from the Lynn Regis point of view,

and from the central amalgamated point of view it becomes an ex- cuse. It is evident that there have been sacrifices which are per- haps justified by the advantages of amalgamation and unity, but not justified on the isolated data of a pure Eastern Counties share- holder.

Here lies the whole question ; and the dispute between the Com- mittee of Investigation and Directors throws us back upon the principle of Mr. Chambers's mutilated Railway Bill. Mr. Wad- dington proceeds upon grounds of policy. He sees the necessity of defending the territory occupied by the Eastern Counties Com- pany from competition. Competition would, no doubt, materially abstract from the traffic of the district; and it appears to us that he shows strong grounds for believing that he has succeeded in the objects of his policy. The Committee of Investigation appear to us equally to show that the success has been obtained at the expense of neglecting many important economies, and of incurring many collateral expenses. It is plain that commercial men can

compiled abridgment ; but we have endeavoured to convey the spirit of it in the teat above. It is clear, distinct, animated—and costs only one shilling. It is indorsed with an intimation that Mr. Bruce, as Deputy-Chairman, would not sanction its being sent free to the shareholders; wherefore Mr. Waddington himself sends a copy to each shareholder.

only form this district by means of purchasing property that they , do not want; engaging in enterprises that do anit belong to them; meddling in alliances 'that are precarious and inconvenient; plun-

sing into- intrigmes, (to use the right word without Meaning a. bad , imputation,) of which they do not see the end; and constantly ; running -the risk of going ultra vine. ; This parcelling out of , districts is properly the work of the State—the Government and the , Legislature: if that point were settled, each company could con- centrate all its attention, means, and ability, upon doing its beat , within its own district. Competition would then assist the general cooperation, especially if a separate department, properly constituted and subject to public opinion, were set to arbitrate upon arrangements where the interests of neighbouring companies ched or combined. This leaves to the State the proper duty of control between corporations as between individuals, and leaves the corporation as individuals free to look after their own proper business. If our system were regulated under that combination of State control and commercial independence, we should not have these collisions between railway shareholders and their managers, these vehement incriminatory statements, in which both sides are right and both sides so deplorably wrong.