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The Select Committee of 1844 on Railways

Parliamentary Papers, 1844, XI, pp. 9-11.

This was one of the early pieces of railway legislation passed by parliament; it was the result of the work of Gladstone, the President of the Board of Trade in Peel's second ministry. Because of clause 11, the Act became known as the 'Parliamentary Train Act'.

  1. That the powers to be granted by any Act of the present or future Sessions of Parliament, for the construction of new Lines of Railway, whether Trunk, Branch, or Junction Lines, shall be subject to the following conditions:-
  2. That if, at the end of a term of years to be fixed, the annual divisible Profits upon the paid-up Share Capital of any such Line of Railway shall be equal to a percentage to be fixed, or so soon after the expiration of the said term as the said percentage shall have been reached, it shall be in the option of the Government either, first, to purchase the Line at the rate of a number of years' purchase, to be fixed, of such divisible Profits; or secondly to revise the fares and charges on the Line, in such manner as shall, in the judgment of the Government, be calculated to reduce the said divisible Profits, assuming always the same quantity and kinds of annual traffic to continue, to the said percentage: but with a guarantee, on the part of the Government to subsist while such scale of fares and charges shall be in force, to make up the divisible Profits to the said percentage.
  3. And also, that at or after the end of the said term of years, it shall be in the option of the Government to purchase the Line at the said number of years' purchase of the annual divisible Profits, whatever be the amount of such Profits.
  4. That the term of years be fifteen, to date from the next following first of January after the passing of the Act for the construction of the Railway.
  5. That the Companies may be required to provide upon such new Lines of Railway, as a minimum of third-class accommodation, one Train at least each way on every week-day, by which there shall be the ordinary obligation to convey such passengers as may present themselves at any of the ordinary stations, in carriages provided with seats and protected from the weather, at a speed not less than 12 miles an hour including stoppages, and at fares not exceeding a penny per mile; each passenger by such Train being allowed not exceeding 56 lbs. of luggage without extra charge, and extra luggage being charged by weight at a rate not exceeding the lowest charge by other Trains; Children under Three years being conveyed without extra charge; and children from Three to Twelve years at half-price.
  6. That the tax upon the receipts from such conveyance of third-class passengers should not exceed one half of any duty that may be laid upon the general traffic of Railways
  7. That the Board of Trade have a discretionary power of dispensing with any of the above requirements, and of allowing alternative arrangements which shall appear to it to be better calculated to promote the public convenience upon any particular Railway; and that the Board of Trade have a discretionary control over the Train which satisfies the above minimum requirements, as regards times of starting, nature of accommodation, arrangements with connecting Lines, and other points of detail, subject to the above general principles, and to the understanding that such control is to be limited to the Train in question.
  8. That Companies shall be bound to convey upon such new Lines military and police forces, and public stores, baggage, and ammunition, on the requisition of the proper authorities, at fares not exceeding 1d. per mile for each private, and 2d. per mile for each officer, with the usual accommodation, and at charges not exceeding 2d. per ton per mile for stores and baggage; the same quantity of personal luggage being allowed free of charge to each officer and private as to each ordinary first and second-class passenger respectively; and the carriages in which such forces are conveyed being, whenever so required by the proper Authorities, provided with seats and protected against the weather.
  9. That upon such new Lines the Post-office be empowered to required the transmission of the Mails (subject to the usual conditions as to payment for services performed by Railway Companies) at any rate of speed certified by the Inspector-general to be consistent with safety; and also to send a mail-guard with bags not exceeding the weight allowed for an ordinary passenger's luggage (or subject to the rules of the Company for any excess of that weight) by any of the ordinary Trains, upon the same terms and conditions as an ordinary passenger: it being understood, that this power shall not authorise the Post-office to require the conversion of a regular Mail Train into an ordinary Train, nor to exercise any control over the Company in respect of any ordinary Train.

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