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True Rapid Transit 
by Joe Vincent Meigs

To comprehend rapid transit, it will be necessary to understand the fundamental principles which govern the means of producing it.


The modern railway depends for success upon its locomotive. It is a gravity adhesion engine, depending on its weight for its adhesion.


To utilize this adhesion, steal in sufficient quantity is necessary. The exhaust or rejected steam, after it has been used in the cylinders, is conducted up the smoke stack through which it escapes more or less often depending upon the speed at which the engine goes. Its force up the smoke stack is governed both by the speed of the engine and quantity of steam used. When the exhaust rushed up the smoke stack it acts as a piston and sucks the air through the fire, causing the fire to burn more or less fiercely, making it more or less hot; thus the locomotive has a blow pipe fire, and generates steam in proportion to its needs.


The whole steam pressure upon both pistons, referred to the rails by means of the connecting rods, cranks and wheels, is the tractive power of the engine. Its amount depends upon the diameter of the cylinders, pressure of steam, stroke and diameter of driving wheels.

Increasing the pressure of steam increases the power.

Increasing the diameter of the cylinders or piston area increases the power.

Increasing the stroke increases the power.

Decreasing the driving wheel increases the power?

By adjusting these several things. the engine is useful for one another purpose.


If the pounds of pul1 of the power (as exerted at the rails) are greater than the pounds of the stick or adhesion of the driving wheels to the track, the driving wheels will slip, and there will be no propulsive result.

In practice, when the rails are greasy or covered with snow there is little adhesion, or if the rails are dewy or wet; hence the stick or adhesion of the driving wheels vary.

At times, ten pounds of weight of engine resting on the driving wheels will be required to utilize one pound of power. The average result requires about four pounds of weight on the drivers to produce the stick or adhesion necessary for one pound of pull on the cranks as exerted at the rail.


If the pounds of pull of the train at the draw-bar of the engine are greater than the stick of the engine to the track or its adhesion—the driving wheels will slip, and the engine cannot draw the load.


Therefore the full power which every gravity adhering engine may utilize cannot by any means exceed its adhesion to the rails.

This is the law governing gravity adhesion. No one can change it. When you are told that fabulous speeds, or fabulous pulls, or both combined, are to be gained by the use of some new power using gravity for adhesion, it will be a willful or ignorant mis-representation. One is as bad as the other; neither is excusable.

Locomotives have been built so as to be worked up to the full pull power as limited by the adhesion, and such engines have been used practically in every conceivable ratio of power to adhesion. So that it is known, undeniably, what results may be expected, and they are not fabulous, but real, and can only be repeated again and again according to the laws of gravity. Gravity adhering engines of like weight will do like duties both in speed and pull. Neither the kind of power, the quantity, nor the arrangement of the engine will make any difference, because no pull can be achieved beyond that permitted by the adhesion. Light engines light duties—heavy engines heavy duties. Usually light objects can be started easier and quicker than heavier ones, but with gravity adhesion the results are proportionate to the adhesion of the engine.


The world is full of such roads. That you may know what has been done, what may be done, and what may not be done by the use of gravity adhering engines, I propose to show you the results of the best samples of such railways—those using steam and those using electricity.


You will see that true rapid transit cannot be secured by the use of gravity adhering motive powers, and because of this, the only kind of motive power now in use, you will see that true rapid transit is nowhere to be found.


It will encumber the least the streets where it will be placed, will give the right speed, the right number of stops per mile, and seats for all. It will enable the wage earners, who are 81 per cent of the whole community, to reach, at a low fare, a region extensive enough and far out enough where each may procure a homestead at a reasonable cost or rental, and with a reasonable expenditure of time in reaching such homes.

Thus, true rapid transit means: — 20 miles per hour including time of stops. 2 1-2 stops per mile end to end of route. 18,000 seats per hour for each single line, with a capacity of increasing the number of seats on the same lines almost indefinitely.


Twenty miles speed per hour will be required to place in reach of the wage-earner (within the time which may be devoted to going and coming) a region beyond the built-up district and the garden homes of the rich lying immediately around the city large enough and close enough to the line of railway to furnish home at a reasonable cost. The whole time used in going and coming must not exceed fifty minutes for each trip—ten minutes in walking to the train and waiting on the platform for the train, and the 30 minutes on the train, and 10 minutes in leaving the train and platform in been going to place of employment.


Thus, the amount of time used by the writer will be for a year of 313 days, 52 days of 10 hours for each person. If the welfare of the people is considered the should be light enough, comfort enough, and seats enough to enable each rider to read, and thus utilize the time writing.


The whole time which such persons can afford must exceed 50 minutes one way-30 minutes of this on the railway, and 20 minutes consumed in walking from home to train and waiting, and from business to train.


Before the advent of electricity I found that on ten of the horse car routes leaving out of Boston, averaging 3 1-2 miles in length, at the busy hour, that the people stopping at will average in the use of those cars all told but 2.7 stops per mile, including the more frequent enforced stops in the city. At present 4.7 stops per mile is the average number made in Boston upon the surface lines, including the enforced stops in the heart of the city upon the average line, which is 4.7 mile in length. The average number of stops on the New York elevated roads are 2.87 per mile.

Two and one-half stops per mile will therefore make a maximum walk of 2-5 of a mile for the average rider, consuming eight minutes of ten at his disposal; thus the average contiguous territory through the centre of which the railway runs will be 0.4 of a mile wide, requiring a speech of the least 20 mi. an hour to bring territory enough at the disposal of the masses.


Seats in sufficient numbers to meet the greatest demand at any part of the hour devoted to returning from work must be supplied. The typical district of New York City, that along the Third Avenue line, at the present moment requires 46,000 seats per hour. Boston has three typical districts, requiring at this moment at least 18,000 seats per hour on each line.


When you have examined with me the very best usage of gravity adhering motive powered railways, you will see that the conditions above set forth as true rapid transit do not exist and cannot exist where gravity adhesion is used. It will be apparent that to install a plan in Boston not capacious enough elsewhere would be folly.


This line furnishes the greatest number of seats per hour, the greatest number of stops per mile, at the greatest speed of all the railway is in the world. Its thus comes nearest of all to offering a solution of the transit, and yet notorious that it is not capacious enough by far, as we shall see. It is a 4 ft. 8 1-2 gauged railway, elevated upon iron posts. In some places these are placed in single rows directly under the line of girders supporting the longitudinal lines of rails. In other places the lines of rails are supported by cross girders resting on posts at or near their ends, cover the streets over entirely.

Gravity adhering engines of the Forney type are used, or such as have the tender combined rigidly with the engine, the tender supported by trailing wheels, the boiler by the driving wheels, four in number. These engines weigh 47,000 lbs. each, and have about 66 percent of their weight on their drivers. They haul a maximum train of five cars seating 240 persons, weighing empty 145,440 lbs., or 72.7 American tons, loaded so that not another passenger can get on 125.37 tons. Fifty-five of these trains per hour pass Chatham Square daily, from 4.23 to 6.23 p.m. some of them half a minute apart, but averaging an interval of one minute, five seconds, and 45-100ths of a second, averaging 3.18 stops to the mile, at an average speed of 11.8 miles per hour, thus furnishing 13,200 seats per hour.

This is more than three times the capacity of any other railway in the world, and yet it falls far short of being true rapid transit.


It does not reach in 30 min. train time a region in which the wage-earner can hope for a home, that is, beyond the resident districts which have been entirely monopolized by the rich to the exclusion of the wage-earner.


Therefore the majority must content themselves, where the slow speed of gravity adhesion is only attainable, to pinched tenements in bad localities, or even to single rooms for whole families. This is deplorable, but remediable.


Nor does this system furnish enough seats for all, the cars being crowded to excess, as we shall see. The only requirement of rapid transit proper which this system does meet, it that it furnishes the requisite number of stops per mile.


The Third Avenue line presents about double as many seats per line per our as either the Second Avenue line, which lies parallel and to the east of it not a quarter of a mile away, or the Sixth Avenue line, lying to the west and parallel to it, not have a mile distant. Thus the territory contiguous to the Third Avenue line is well defined, and furnishes the data for a typical district for elevated railways. The requirements of this district is the outgrowth, which is well-known to follow every means of bettered transit. This district shows the exact requirement of speed, stops and seats per hour and per mile for the present and for the future of a typical line.


No commission of which I am cognizant seems ever to have ever to have considered capacity at all. All seem to have rested their cases when they have been told by some engineer that the recommendations he has made will solve the question, no matter how stupid or absurd his or their recommendations may have been. I will point to the facts hereafter, then the reader may draw as correct conclusions as any expert, for it needs but common-sense when the data is known.

So many people have taken advantage of the accessibility by the elevated railways in New York, Brooklyn, and Chicago that they do not furnish seats enough in the morning and evening when the people demand them. This crowding is so great that at those hours as it has been the experience of everybody conversant with the facts, that quite often the applicant to ride finds it necessary to await the passage of several trains before a foothold even can be had, the platforms of the cars and the aisles being crowded to such an extent that not another person could get on, and for that reason seven of the trains during the afternoon hours of greatest use do not stop at all when they reach Chatham Square.

lf we could know the number of people who ride standing on this overworked line we might know what a typical district occupied by an elevated road in an American city should be, to furnish true and real rapid transit; that is speed and seats per hour, with stops per mile in proper number. This is very easy to ascertain it we take out the space occupied by the knees and feet of those persons who sit, find the area of the remaining floor space, find the area of the I platforms, add these sums together. and divide this sum by 210, the quotient will be the number of riders who stand.

210 square inches will he a liberal amount of space for each standing person in a car. I find that 210 square inches is the amount occupied by the riders in the crowded cages of Boston's elevators when crowded to excess. The walls of the cages come close up to the bodies of the standers, which is not the case in excessively crowded cars. The increase of travel for the past year on the New York elevated road was 3.7 per cent. Thus, I have found that the crowded trains of the Third Avenue line carry at the busy hours of the afternoon 45,763 persons per hour, 32,563 of whom stand.


Thus this line has created a greater demand than it can by any means meet. Its engines cannot haul an additional car per train. They can make no greater speed, and they can haul no greater number of trains per hour. Thus we have seen that a typical district may not be served by gravity adhesion locomotives, and give the requisite speed per hour, making the proper number of stops per mile.

lf the pull of the train upon the draw-bar of a gravity adhering engine is greater than the adhesion, the engine slips her drivers and no speed at all results, nor can the engine regain her hold upon the rails until the slipping is stopped. If a train is suddenly started the pull upon the draw bar is likely to exceed the adhesion of the engine, and instead of starting, a loss of time occurs by the slipping of the driving wheels. If an engine or motor without train, no matter what its weight, be too suddenly started, the pressure in the cylinders may exceed the adhesion, and it will slip the driving wheels.

Is for this reason, as you will be shown, that this 15.6 ton engine of the Manhattan Railway cannot make more than 11.8 miles per hour speed, making the proper number of stops to the mile. It is handicapped by gravity adhesion and the laws governing it. Were this class of engine to make more speed she must make fewer stops or she must have more power. It could not utilize more power without more weight on the drivers, and were the number of seats reduced, the capacity would fall short, and it is too little now, were the cars themselves, carrying the proper number of passengers, reduced to a featherweight; if the proper number of stops were made to the mile the speed could be increased but slightly without more power, and more power implies more weight for adhesive purposes, and more weight must with gravity adhesion start slowly or slipping occurs.

For example, on the Ninth Avenue line express trains are run with these engines hauling four cars only. The highest speeded of these trains makes 18.1 miles per hour averaging but 1.015 stops per mile, they average 16.8 miles per hour with but one stop to the mile. These express trains are not run at close intervals. Thus, when such trains make the desired, nay the imperative speed, capacity and stops are both insufficient.

You have now seen that these engines bearing 15.6 tons on their drivers, hauling 125.37 tons in train, cannot give rapid transit, and that when the four cars are used, when the weight is reduced 1-5, and permitting the power used to draw a fifth car to be used for speed, the speed thus brought up nearly to that required for rapid transit, the stops must be limited so that they are entirely inadequate: or, in other words. true rapid transit cannot be furnished by gravity adhering engines of light weight, even it weight of trains be reduced.


Now that we have the actual results of the best managed iron viaduct railway or elevated railway in the world, we have results which may be used as a standard of comparison. Let us then review the necessities of our city, and discover what the exact present requirements of Boston are. Examine the results of other railways. Compare them and apply them to the needs of Boston. This is the only way we may decide whether or not such propositions as are made are worth at moment’s notice, much less worth adoption. However ill advised it may be, you are seriously besought to go backward and take away the surface lines of railway, because of necessity they, a short distance apparatus, have been misused for a long distance apparatus. for which the place of usage is entirely unsuitable.


An accessible internal system of surface railway is as necessary for the welfare of a city and its people as are railroads for the whole country. Such internal surface railways should lie as close proximity to the doors of the users as it is possible to have them, ready to be used for short rides, placed in the most frequented places, boardable at any place, stopping at any place. These railways should be in no sense at long distance ride apparatus. In conjunction with such a system of short distance railways, leading everywhere there ought to be the cab, the carriage, the omnibus, and the elevated railway. All of these are needed, they are interdependent. A city without them will not grow, and its people will not be contented and happy.


Whoever misplaces or perverts the use of either of these systems commits a great wrong against the community, crowding the poor into unhealthy districts, inducing disease and wretchedness, the condition fruitful of crime.

The highest speed of such internal surface railways should be about six miles an hour, and they should never be permitted to exceed that speed, at any time or anywhere, in the heart of the city or out of it, because any speed upon the streets above six miles per hour is excessively dangerous, and as rapid transit may not be attained on the surface, such lines should be confined by law to their legitimate purpose.


About three miles an hour provided he does not stop at all. Surface cars could make five miles an hour stopping the necessary number of times per mile, if they were run at proper interval, and this speed would make them useful.


Suppose the commander of a battery should attempt to maneuver his guns and caissons without paying attention to interval—it would be blockade and inextricable confusion the cause of defeat. Such a commander would very soon be kicked out. Intervals are as necessary for cars as for guns. lf proper intervals were preserved, blockades would seldom occur. But if they are preserved, then everybody may not go to one chosen center, because by no possibility can as many cars as are needed get to the given center.


To haul each seat one mile. When a seat has been hauled six miles it will have cost 45 mills, the fare being five cents or 50 mills. No substantial profit will have been made. But if there were elevated roads of sufficient capacity to take care of the long distance riders, and the street cars were run at proper intervals, they might make five miles an hour schedule speed in the city, this being nearly double the speed one can walk. Then, naturally, they would have a greater number of short distance riders or paying fares, and thus would make more money.


At six miles an hour a car runs 8.8 feet per second. lf at stops the cars were stopped 15 seconds in all, then a following car would catch up in 132 feet—132 feet therefore is too close an interval to prevent blockades. At six miles an hour some leeway is necessary; at least 200 feet should be preserved at this little speed; this would materially limit the number of cars. Hence arises the necessity of running trains of cars when proper intervals are preserved. When the surface cars are run over many different streets as in Boston, they must be run accordingly. They can not be run in trains; no one can make that pay; Cars run singly can never give seats, speed and stops in proper numbers combined. It is impossible.

Boston was promised an immunity from blockade and all the ills of surface travel if the legislature would but grand consolidation. It was not true. I gave the reasons then, as I do now, why those things would not give relief in themselves. And I asked for proper legislation by which I might solve it, but could never get it. If you place in the subway the number of cars designated by the commissioners to be so placed, unless they are run with proper intervals, blockades will be frequent and inevitable, and if proper intervals are observed there will not be seats enough. Thus the people's money will have been uselessly expended to benefit the salaried, the promoter and the contractor. Thus the public will have been uselessly taxed for a stupendous folly, without the attainment of relief, even were that desirable, of the surface of the streets. Rapid transit cannot thus be attained in any sense of the word whatever.


If, as required by the sub-way commission, you place the cars of Tremont, Boylston, Scollay Square and Cornhill—to say nothing of "those within a thousand feet"—in the sub-way, those the commissioners think necessary to relieve Tremont Street, I find on careful examination that you will have 301 cars each way per hour for each of the two tracks. As there are 3600 seconds in an hour, 3600 [divided by] 355 = 10.14 seconds, which these cars must be apart. But these cars require more than 12 seconds at each stop—time used in stopping, time used at the stop, and time used in gaining speed will aggregate to 12 seconds or more. Mr. Swain testified that the duration of stops will be 30 seconds sometimes. Thus it must be apparent to each of you that these conditions are impossible, that blockades will be frequent and inevitable.


If the numbers of cars be reduced there will be fewer cars than now, and there are not enough, as all know.

Additional speed cannot be attained. These cars may not be run in trains because they go to so many varied lines—such arrangement will not be practical. Thus it is clearly seen the sub-way is not a proper or real solution. It would not be large enough to take even two tracks for an elevated road, and meet the present wants of the surface cars. If it is proposed—as the Mayor of Boston and as the commissioners of sub-way have said, and as Mr. Jackson, City Engineer of Boston, told me and made a sketch to show me—to run all the suburban lines of elevated roads now needed in Boston through this one line of tracks, then, as I told him and as l tell you, that would be an estoppel upon all rapid transit by means of elevated roads. From 5 p.m. to 6.10 p.m. daily in Boston 50,000 persons ride per hour. This would require through the congested center, where there is no room for such obstructive roads and where the roads must go if commercial prosperity is to reign, nearly four double track of lines of the New York kind, or eight lines of track, equipped as fully as the Third Avenue line in New York, running trains every minute at the busy hour, to furnish seats for the present alone, for all who demand them, without any regard whatever to the natural increase of travel which such roads bring about. It is not possible to put all of the required trains over such a tunnel line of two tracks, thus again it is made apparent, without a possibility of contradiction, that the sub-way will not be large enough.

Were the whole tunnel, 57 feet wide, devoted to elevated railways alone, it would not furnish space enough for the number of lines which at this moment Boston requires for rapid transit proper, as you will see in detail. One single line of double track will be useless and a mere subterfuge and will delay rapid transit for years. Nor is it desirable to place the people’s conveyance in a subway.

If the rich desire a sub-way let them have it where the air (as it has been testified) will be cooler in summer and warmer in winter; where there will be no annoyance, and where horses will not be frightened. Outlets may be made where the grades will permit, carriages may stand at waiting stations near the stairways, but leave the people’s conveyance where it is, on the surface, close at hand, stopping everywhere and making about twice the speed of those walking, to the end, that there shall be increased convenience of business, hence increased business.

The streets are, and have been from their origin, for the uses of the masses of the people, and for that purpose they should be devoted, and to no other. Were the street cars supplemented by elevated railways, they might be used for their original and legitimate purposes—for short distance riders—at a proper interval of about 250 feet, which should be maintained legally. This would prevent blockade, and would give room for all other teams. It would free the streets of many cars. They could maintain a schedule speed of five miles an hour in the heart of the city, and would thus offer inducement to short distance riders, and consequently the companies would make more money, and pay 10 per cent as they used to do, as can be seen by examining, as I have done, the old street railway reports. This would be better for all—the people and the railway.


The surface railways of Boston, as now used, furnish some data as to how many people there are who desire seats at the morning and evening hours, when these roads are almost wholly given up to long distance riders. If we ascertain this number we will know near the number of seats which must be provided to meet the immediate demands of such territory, without regard to the requirements of the future. The internal surface railways of Boston run their cars at an average of 6.9 miles per hour over 96 routes, or outbound 557.2 cars per hour at 5 p.m. daily—except Sunday.

These cars are often so crowded, at that hour, that not another passenger can squeeze on or into them. Often a person must await passage of a number of cars for any given route before a foothold can be attained.

The scheduled intervals of the separate routes of the internal surface cars of Boston are for the hour after 5 p.m.: One route at 3 mins., one route at 3 1-2 mins., three routes at 4 mins., four routes at 5 mins., four at 6 mins., six at 7 1-2 mins., three at 8 mins., one at 8 1-2 mins., 29 routes at 10 mins., one at 11 mins., one at 14 mins., 17 at 15 mins., nine at 20 mins., 15 at 30 mins., and one at 60 mins.; or in all 96 routes, averaging about 4.1 cars per route per hour, with an average speed for 88 of the routes of 6.9.; miles per hour. (The speed of the Lynn cars is not given). The average number of seats, averaging the summer and winter cars, is 3653 seats per car; multiply 557.2 cars by 36.53 and we have 20.354 seats per hour. To these must be added the number of persons who stand. Taking from the floor area the space occupied by the feet and knees of those seated, adding the floor space of the platforms at the ends of the cars, and dividing this space by 210 square inches, the space occupied by each average stander, and we will find that 25,972 people stand, or 1.276 of a person for each person sitting. Add six per cent, the last annual increase, or 2,780 persons, and we will find that in Boston at the moment of greatest need—today—the riders on the internal surface railways of Boston number per hour 49,106 persons.

Thus it is clear that the internal system of elevated railways must be so located and capacious enough to meet the wants of these patrons, together with the very great increase of patronage which will he occasioned by greater facility in speed, seats and stops.


With friends, promoters and investors, after having made careful surveys for complete lines of railway, duly considering the subject, it has been decided that to cover this area of residence and business with a proper system of rapid transit, it is necessary to make three sweeping lines of railway, reaching from end to end of the business section, converging at the centre of it, coming so close together that the passenger may step from platform to platform, these lines terminating at their exterior ends in ten different lines, covering most of the residential districts, and requiring in all for the present about 73 miles of single track elevated railway.

The capacity of each of these (3) lines would have to be, judging from the character of the territory lying adjacent to such locations, for the present wants alone, about 16,368 seats per line. This is a greater number than can he furnished by a double-tracked line of the capacity and with the equipment of the Third Avenue line of the Manhattan elevated railway, as you have already seen, and for which there is no room. If four lines of such double-tracked gravity adhering railway were constructed here, they could not furnish the number of seats which would be required for the present moment, to say nothing whatever of the future. Then why will you consider any less proposition, one indeed much less?

Having seen what is accomplished by the best-managed and equipped elevated railway now in operation. using gravity adhering engines operated by steam power, with comparatively light locomotives, it will be well to examine such railways operating gravity adhering engines the motive power of which is electricity.


"The City and South London" or Greathead railway is an electric railway lying deep down in two bores in the heart of London under Kennington road (3 1-2 miles long) reaching from Cannon Street Monument to Brixton. Its locomotives are 4 ft. 8 1-2 in. gauged electric engines. They have four drivers, which support the whole weight, and are arranged like the ordinary four—wheel shifting engines without trailing wheels, hence are hard upon the track. They weigh 22,400 pounds, or 11.2 American tons. Thus they have adhesion enough to permit the utilization of a power which hauls a maximum train of three cars, seating 102 persons in all. Twelve trains per hour, the interval between trains, five minutes, being for safety, fixed by the Board of Trade—the English Railway Commissioners, this railway furnishing 1224 seats per hour at a speed of 12.64 miles per hour, stopping 1.57 times per mile. Undoubtedly a three minutes interval might be arranged, or even a closer one, were the equipment increased, and were it possible to make and convey so great a current of electricity as would be needed for power for such numbers of trains as would result at a reasonable cost.

This railway is therefore deficient in speed, in stops per mile, and in seats. It fulfils no one of the requirements of rapid transit. It would be unwise in the last degree to construct such roads under Boston, for were they constructed it would be at further delay to true rapid transit, further hindering the wage-earner's chance to reach within a reasonable time a home district where they might each acquire a home and live in comfort at a cost wholly within their means. If this system were used to furnish the required number of seats, 49,106 per hour the requirement of Boston, there would be needed 40 double track lines, making too few stops and too little speed.


They are inaccessible, are colder in summer and warmer in winter (double walls will not change this, they are always colder or warmer) than the surface atmosphere: hence are condensers of moisture, therefore damp, dark, dingy, dirty, musty and dangerous to health. All sub-ways are very noisy, and it is impossible to ventilate them except at very great cost—these are the facts no matter who has testified to the contrary. The (Greathead) City and South London Tunnel Railway does not pay dividends, but it is an object lesson not to be neglected. It is praised on all sides as being a most admirable specimen of a gravity adhering electrically propelled motive powered railway. It is a mere pigmy—its total equipment is fourteen electric locomotives and 36 cars. Its eleven tons electric locomotives haul 33.6 tons of loaded train only. Complaint is made by Mr. Greathead that they cannot start the trains quickly enough. Of course not. No one of these great engineers seem to realize that the adhesion is too limited to utilize power sufficient.


Was another electric road worthy of examination. General Herman Haupt, civil engineer, manager of the military railroads of the U. S. during the war of the rebellion, author of world-wide used text books on bridge building, author of a recent book upon motive powers for railways, manager of the Pennsylvania Railway, manager of the Northern Pacific, &c., &c., and graduate of West Point, made recently an examination of the lntermural system in the interests of the Rapid Transit Commission of New York.

He asked the General Electric Company "to give him the cost of the installation for power for a railway with trains similar in number and character to the present Third Avenue line of the New York Elevated Railway, running at a minute interval over a route 20 miles long, at a schedule speed of 20 miles an hour—or two hours for the round trip?" What the number of the power stations, their size, cost, and where placed, with the detail, and the required installation?

Mr. W. E. Baker, the electrical engineer who designed, built and operated the intermural road. replied "that the power stations should he so placed that the current of electricity would be transmitted five miles only, the loss being proportional to the distance—thus there would be two power houses, five miles from the ends of the route, transmitting currents two ways: that the intermural motor cars had four parallel axles to each, of which 150 h.p. was attached, or 600 h. p. in all—the cost of these motor cars each was $10,000 for the electrical application—and that the same power would be required for the proposed trains.


At one minute intervals there would he 120 motors on the line, requiring 72,000 h. p. to begin with. Then there would be at loss of power in transmission of 1O per cent from steam engine to generating dynamos, a loss of 1O per cent in transmitting the current along the conductors, and from conductors to car motors 15 per cent, with a large increase of power in frequently starting the trains. Thus the 72,000 h. p. will be swelled to 100,189 h. p. Costing $80 per horse power as installed as follows: $20.00 for steam plant, $17.00 for boilers, $3.00 for piping; $10.00 for real estate, &c.; $20.00 for dynamos and $10.00 for buildings. To carry this enormous current it would require old rails—other than those the train ran on—six lines for the first mile, five lines for the second mile, four for the third. three for the fourth, and two for the fifth for each section: i.e., each track of five miles being similarly supplied with conductors


To be brief, these necessary conditions would require $250,000.00 for rails and conductors; $150,000.00 for laying, connecting and insulating them: $1,200,000 for outfit of 120 electric motor cars; $8,000.000 for 100,000 h.p. at power sections, at $80 per h. p.: or in all $9,600,000. These figures do not include the cost cars, roadway. etc., etc. They are for the power equipment alone, and do not include the cars, structures, &c., &c., for a 20 mile line equipped with power for running the same number of trains as are now run on the Third Avenue line at 4.23 p.m.


The cost of steam motors to equip this line for the same duty would he $$40.000.00. The fuel used the two hours, the round trip, would be for the electric plant $1000.00. The fuel used for the two hours, the round trip, would be for 120 steam motors as ordinarily used $384.00. Thus the reader sees that were a road of the present (deficient) capacity of the Third Avenue line built and equipped with electricity it could neither give the requisite number of stops per mile nor yet the capacity needed, because its engines being merely gravity adhering, could not exceed the results of other engines of similar weight—even if the cost did not forbid its use.


It has been claimed that a 16 ton gravity adhering locomotive, by reducing the weight of the cars and using electricity, could supply the demand. Electricity is only another form of power; it can be utilized only to the extent of the adhesion. Such an engine cannot, as you have seen, exceed 12 miles per hour, making 2 1-2 stops per mile—but we have notable examples of just such cases in the express trains on the Ninth Avenue line of the Manhattan Elevated Railway of New York City. Where light gravity adhering engines with 15.6 tons weight on their drivers—when hauling (4) car trains weighing 29,088 lbs each, stopping only once per mile—make 18.1 miles per hour on the best train, and on six of such trains an average of 1.07 stops per mile at 16.83 miles per hour. This is not up to the requirement of speed, of seats, nor of stops. What prevents is gravity adhesion alone, and as friction is in proportion to load, not surface, such an engine, no matter what the power used, could not give better results.


The Metropolitan Railway of London is the next sample to which l desire to call your attention. It is in great part a line of surface tunnel railway, projected in 1863 as a circuit but never completed. It is double tracked twelve miles long and is an ordinary 4 ft. 8 1-2 in. gauged railway, using gravity adhering steam locomotives weighing 94,080 lbs., or 47 American tons. These locomotives are two tons heavier than the engines which were considered by the late Rapid Transit Commissioners with which to solve the problem of rapid transit in Boston.

You will see that gravity engines of this weight reduce speed, reduce stops, and reduce capacity, and that it would be a blunder to use them, as they would not serve to place homes within the reach of the people, not even to give seats to the tired rider. The Metropolitan Tunnel Railway of London paid 3 1-4 per cent. The Metropolitan district, operated by this road paid nothing. It operates 73 miles of road 6 1-3 miles only of which is underground and carried 116,000,000 passengers per year. Three and one-fourth per cent on such a vast outlay is not very inviting. Its engines haul six car trains, seating 216 persons, making 1.91 stops per mile at 11.4 miles per hour, at three minutes interval, thus running 20 trains per hour, furnishing 4,320 seats per hour, about 32 per cent as many as the Third Avenue line witch are not enough.

This is not rapid transit in any sense of the word: the speed, stops, and number of seats per hour all fall far short of those needed. This road is also excessively expensive, costing from $2,339,890 to $5,000,000 per mile, without equipment. It is like all other tunnels, a condenser of moisture, hence dank, damp, dingy, dirty, musty, dark, and very noisy, and as useless for application in Boston as will be the proposed tunnel which, were it used for steam would give no better results, than this London sub-way, nor within the bounds of reasonable expense, by any means that can be devised, could it do so.

If the tunnel proposed in Boston is ever built I believe it will be absolutely useless unless it should be straightened and hereafter used as a short cut across Boston for the Northern and Southern roads, for that it is too crooked and indirect as now proposed. It such a tunnel were needed at all it should not be built at the expense of this already over-taxed and over-burdened city.


This sample of railway using heavy gravity adhering engines exactly the same in character as those used on all the railroads hereabouts shows you that they cannot be used up to, much less to increase either capacity, speed or stops per mile, made by the Third Avenue line, all of which are entirely too limited. There are 13 great railways using gravity adhering engines of about the same weight in London., all running very many short distance or local trains in sub-ways or viaducts, non of them giving better results that the Metropolitan Railway.


An ordinary gravity locomotive on our railways at 20 miles an hour requires something more than a minute to come to a stop, to stop, and to get up to 20 miles an hour again. Then if 2 1-2 stops were made to the mile, 2 1-2 minutes required in stopping, then there would be only 1-2 minute left in which to run the mile. As at 20 miles an hour a train must run a mile in three minutes, thus while the train runs its speed it must be 120 miles per hour. This is absurd, and yet it is exactly what was suggested by the late Rapid Transit Commission engineer—page 254, fifth paragraph, third line; page 265, fourth paragraph; page 78, first paragraph, last three lines. For a 45 ton gravity adhering locomotive could not be used to make 2 1-2 stops per mile otherwise than I have stated, gravity adhesion prevents. It was truly a rapid transit recommendation.


The following train, No. 67, leaving Boston daily for Reading, 12.75 miles distant, at 5 p.m. stops seven times, including a know-nothing halt. It stops therefore .54 of a stop to the mile, or once in 1.82 miles only. Its speed as scheduled to the end of the journey is 21.25 miles per hour.

If such a train were run at three minutes interval (it would be as close as it could well be run, or 20 trains per hour), it would furnish 11,240 seats per hour—that falls far short of the requirements of Third Avenue, and the number of stops per mile are so few that they are out of the question. They are entirely too few.


The detail of the movement of that train is as follows:—Boston to Malden, 4.75 miles, with a know-nothing halt and a real stop at Malden is made in 14 minutes: the schedule speed is 20.36 miles per hour, with .21 of a stop to the mile. The next spurt is from Malden to Melrose, 2.25 miles in five minutes, thus stopping .44 of a stop to the mile, the speed being 27 miles per hour. The next spurt is from Melrose to Melrose Highlands, half mile in three minutes, or ten miles per hour. making two stops to the mile. Thus you see how frequent stops pull the speed down using a heavy gravity engine. The next spurt is from Melrose Highlands to Wakefield, 2.5 miles in six minutes or 25 miles per hour, making .4 of a stop per mile. The next spurt from Wakefield to Reading, 2.2 miles in five minutes or at an average speed of 27 miles per hour, making .44 stop per mile. Thus the speed must have exceeded 27 miles, because the stop must have come out of the average running time or schedule time. The next and last spurt was from Reading to Reading Highlands, the end of the trip, half mile in three minutes or ten miles per hour, making two stops to the mile.

This is a most instructive train to those who desire to understand the use of gravity adhering engines. It shows how unadvised or unreal the talk was of the Rapid Transit Commission when they proposed rapid transit with at 45 ton engine or a 90,000 lb. engine, one heavier than this. which would increase the difficulties as we shall at once see by the practical use of such an engine.

The reader must bear these inflictions of detail if a correct knowledge is desired about this matter. It cannot he blundered over without losing all we seek. You have had enough of that here in Boston, to the cost of more than 714 millions in twelve years, as I can show in detail.


In Berlin, which is a fortified city, the government has built—for military as well as for civic purposes, within and around its lines of fortifications and across the heart of the city—an internal system of railway. It is a viaduct railway, built of brick and tile, varying in height. It is managed by the military. It has four tracks. It is of the ordinary 4 ft. 8 1-2 in. gauge, its engine weighing 92,594 lhs., or 46 American tons, 66 per cent of its weight resting on its drivers. As this engine is used it hauls ten car trains, seating 480 persons (twice the number of the New York elevated road). On the state division, its best usage, the trains are run at five minutes interval or twelve trains per hour, making 1.47 stops per mile, at 18.2 miles per hour. Thus used it furnishes 5760 seats per hour for one line; double this and you have 11,520 seats per hour in one direction, or by two roads only 88 per cent as many seats per hour as by the Third Avenue line. Thus, again, a 46 ton engine on two tracks does not give the capacity of one New York line. Was it deception, ignorance or carelessness thus to recommend that which could not offer a possible solution?

The average trains on the various routes of this railway—the center line, the center line and south ring, the center line and north ring—make only .89 of a stop to the mile, with an average speed of 16.875 miles per hour, requiring 28.12 miles per hour as the highest speed. Thus it is seen that with gravity adhering engines with sufficient adhesion to pull double the number of seats of the New York trains, that when the requisite speed is attained both the number of stops per mile and the number of seats per hour are deficient—rapid transit cannot thus be attained.

Let us look at the New York Central great engine 999. It is capable of running 112 miles an hour to one mile, and it has hauled a four car train with 291 seats. weighing 392,950 lbs. or 196 tons (125 tons weight of New York elevated trains), using 180 lbs. pressure of steam in 19" cylinders at 75 miles per hour. Three of such engines used in relays can give an average of only 59.59 miles per hour, including three stops in 436 1-2 miles. To do this they must he run, stops out, at an average of 61.51 miles per hour; this requires many varying speeds, frequently 68, 70, 71, 72, 74 and 75 miles per hour for about 3 1-2 miles. If utilizing 90 per cent of her steam pressure this engine developing at 75 miles per hour 3603.94 h. p.—now then, if we applied this engine to city uses, making 2.5 stops per mile, she could not average ten miles an hour. Thus you have seen that gravity adhering engines as they increase in weight are less useful for solving rapid transit.

The engineer does not live who can set aside the laws of gravity and use gravity adhering engines, within the bounds of reasonable cost, so as to present 49,000 seats at 5 p.m. at 20 miles per hour, 2 1-2 stops per mile. This is the honest problem. This is what must be done.


Meigs Elevated Railway Rendition




With a knowledge of these facts I have constructed an engine which does not depend upon gravity for its adhesion. The grip of its driving wheels is artificial and regulatable. If the reader will extend the fore-finger of the left hand horizontally across his breast, then try to pull it along by the friction of the fore-finger of the right hand pressed against it and rubbed along it the result will he that of gravity adhesion, but if he will grip the fore-finger of the left hand between the thumb and fore-finger of the right hand and pull, he will experience in a marked manner the character of the grip adhesion which I have adopted. Thus adhesion can he increased without increase of weight.

We have seen that increased power is necessary for an increased speed, for an increased capacity, and to enable quick starting and stopping. With increased grip and power, increased speeds and loads with quicker stops. are therefore possible. The ordinary rails of a railway offering the point of support of the load, lie upon the surface of support, the earth or the equivalent elevated roadway. I have kept that low level, and have, as it were, turned the track up edgewise, so that one of the rails is raised nearly to the bottom of the cars, where it is supported properly, and against which balancing wheels run and to which the driving wheels are applied, gripping it as do the rolls of a rolling mill, or the rolls of a wringer, the material drawn through. The car floor comes immediately over this rail, and on this car floor the seats are placed if a car, or the boiler and machinery if an engine. Thus the centre of gravity is practically lowered, so that a locomotive can have a large grate area, i.e., one of sufficient capacity to make steam for speed, increased loads, or both, at the will of the designer, which is not the case with the present locomotive, as its fire-box is confined by the wheels and axles. I have preserved the proper relation of load to the number of wheels which are to bear it.


Meigs Elevated Railway Drive Wheels


It has been officially tested in a manner no other railway could have withstood. It has been officially approved, and legalized to be used like the 4 ft. 8 1-2 in. or 3 ft. gauged road. With this regulatable system of grip, three car trains may be run at a schedule speed of 20 miles per hour, making intervals, furnishing 312 seats in train, sixty trains an hour or 18,720 seats per line per hour, the train weighing 148,560 lbs., all seats full, or 74 tons, or 51 tons less than the New York Elevated Railway trains, the train being 200 ft. long, or 20 ft. shorter than the New York trains furnishing 13,200 seats per hour. This minimum 18,720 seat train would be about one-fifth of the capacity of the same line. If this three car train were used with a little more power and a little greater adhesion, both of which are at command, it might be run at the same speed, making the same number of stops, practically, at intervals of forty seconds—ten seconds more than the intervals of Third Avenue line as now run. Thus the grip adhering railway, as I have constructed it, with a three car train can furnish 28,080 seats per hour, with speed enough and stops enough! No other railway on earth could begin to approach these results in speed, stops and seats.

The New York elevated railway could not supply the present wants of any single line of the territory of Boston. The Meigs road can, with its unlimited grip and unlimited production of steam. The system may have (without overloading the structure in the least) the requisite elasticity to meet the demands, present or future, of the Third Avenue line— requiring at present 45,000 seats per hour., Having the steam and adhesion, the six-car trains of the Meigs system may be run at 40 seconds interval at 20 miles per hour making the proper number of stops per mile, furnishing 50,160 seats per hour. This more than meets the present wants of that district by a single line of railway by no means worked to its full capacity, and with a train only one car longer than the present New York trains. With the power and the grip greater trains and greater speeds, with the requisite number of stops, may be attained. Genl. Herman Haupt, to make a comparison of cost, said of this system that if the cost per mile of the various systems were divided by the number of passengers who may be practically carried per hour by each system, the comparison would be: For the New York system, $68.03; for the Brooklyn system, $64.90; and for the Meigs system, $6.06.


No gravity adhering system of propulsion has the requisite elasticity to supply Boston or any other city with true rapid transit: it is simply a physical impossibility, and has failed everywhere. No engineer, no matter who he is or whether he is backed by dozens or his fellows, or by an all-powerful commission with the unlimited money of the people at their command, can change the laws of gravity, and with gravity adhering engines give better results than you have seen in detail. It is therefore improper to construct lines of such railway, to hinder and bother the public upon installation exactly as they have done in New York City. If what I have said had not been officially demonstrated, examined and approved by the ablest men in the world in the profession of engineers, the common-sense, demonstrations and reasonings I give might all be taken cum grano salis, or as the vagaries of an enthusiast. But these things being true, I cannot conceive why it is that the cheapest, most elastic, most capricious, least obstructive, quickest and


Meigs Elevated Railway Bent


safest system of railway yet presented has not met with legislative recognition, enough to secure its adoption and use. The facts and conclusions I have given are my own, drawn from data furnished me: By the military manager of Berlin system of railways; by Mr. F. K. Hain, manager of the Manhattan system of railways of New York City; by Maj. Fred Martin, of the Brooklyn elevated railways; by Mr. Wm. Buchannan, of the New York Central system of railways; by Mr. Amos R. Barrett, of the Boston & Maine system; by Mr. Geo. F. Evans, of the same system; by Mr. Simon Sterne, promoter of the Greathead system; by the A B C Pathfinder and Dial, by the Travellers' Official Guide; by Mr. Howard, then of the New York & New England railway: from the Scientific American and Supplement, the railway journals of the country, and from Genl. Herman Haupt, civil engineer, The Manual for Rail Road Engineers and Engineering Students by Geo. L. Vose of Bowdoin College, Maine—as well as from many other sources.

Source: True Rapid Transit, by Joe V. Meigs (c.1893)


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