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make repairs ordered, to be punished by fine and imprisonment, and in case of accident to life or limb in such event, the superintendent, conductor and engineer shall be deemed guilty of felony. The commissioners can also order the running of passenger trains to be stopped.
The commissioners are required to make annual reports on August 1st of each year, which shall include the amount of stock subscribed and paid in, and the name, residence and holding of each stockholder; funded and floating debt, and assets; estimated value of property; length of all tracks laid; tonnage of through and local freight; monthly passenger and freight earnings; trainexpenses; total expenses of working the roads, and salaries of all officers in detail; locomotive-expenses, repairs and maintenance; cost of improvements; passenger rates; freight tariffs; instructions to agents; names of express and transportation companies, terms granted to them and kind of business done by them; running arrangements with other roads; and answers to any other questions the commissioners may require.
an amendment was made to the existing law by the last legislature, providing that no railroad, canal, steamship, or other transportation company shall charge a greater sum for the transportation of any passenger or freight over a portion of its line or route, whether such shall, in whole or in part, lie within the limits of the State of Virginia, than is charged by such company for the transportation of the like class of passengers or freight over the entire length of its line. No company is allowed to charge any higher rate for passengers or freight going over its line from any place in Virginia to any place outside, than is charged for the same class of business within the State. So, likewise, no higher rates can be charged on business coming from without the State to any point within it than is charged on business passing through the State, and no company or common carrier shall allow through-tickets or throughbaggage-checks to be issued over its line by any company or transportation line, its agents or agencies, not incorporated by the State of Virginia, which company or line shall refuse or inhibit by any means any other such company or transportation line incorporated by the State the privilege of issuing by its own local agents and
such agents or agencies as it may establish in any city or elsewhere, through tickets and baggage-checks over such company's road or transportation line, not incorporated by Virginia. It also prohibits all discrimination between individuals, and fixes a penalty of $500 for a first violation of the law, and of $5,000 dollars for any succeeding violation, to be recovered in any court of record. An injunction can also be issued by a circuit court to prevent repetition of any of the acts forbidden.
So far as we know, these two States afford the only instances of extreme legislation in this or in foreign countries during the past year.
In the Kentucky and Tennessee Legislatures,
somewhat radical measures were introduced, but the hearing of competent and influential experts in railroad matters, and the careful inquiries of liberal and conservative committees were sufficient to prevent their passage.
Minnesota has retraced her steps,
repealing the law of 1874, and by her last legislature enacting a new law, providing for a single commissioner, as in Ohio and Michigan, but with less authority than is possessed by the commissioner for Michigan-in fact with advisory powers mainly, suchas are possessed by the Massachusetts board.
RECENT ACTION IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
In Great Britain,
there is general approval of the newly adopted method of government supervision by a board of three railway commissioners.
The origin of this board, as well as the policy of the English government in respect to railways, and the scope of the act of 1854 as amended, will be best understood from the opening remarks of the commissioners in their first report, submitted in. August, 1874, but not received at the date of our own first report. They say:
"The powers of railway companies and their liabilities and duties are derived partly from special acts of parliament, and partly from general railway acts, and if companies go beyond their powers, or fail in the performance of their duties, not only are there the ordi
nary remedies for such individuals as may be aggrieved, but the public also can interfere concerning the excess or non-compliance, of the acts 7 and 8, Vict. C., 85, authorizing the board of trade, on behalf of the public, to institute legal proceeding, in such cases."
"The act of 1854 is one of the general railway acts. It was passed to prevent favoritism on the part of railway companies as carriers, and requires that the terms upon which they carry shall be the same for all. It was passed also that railways might afford all the accommodation to the public of which they are capable, and requires that every railway company shall forward traffic with all reasonable facilities, and that where railways owned by different companies are conterminous and form a continuous line such companies shall use their utmost diligence in sending through traffic over their respective routes.
"The act provides, as the means of carrying out these purposes, that the board of trade, or any person interested, may bring a complaint against a company for contravening them, and may obtain an injunction enforcible by attachment and a penalty not exceeding 200 pounds a day, to prevent the contravention from being continued or repeated; and it also specifies as to the courts which are to entertain the complaints and to issue the injunctions the Common Pleas in England, the Court of Session in Scotland, and any of the superior courts in Dublin.
"It is as to the courts entrusted with the administration of that act, and to be resorted to for enforcing its provisions, that that act has been amended by the act of 1873, which, after providing for the appointment, by your Majesty, of three railway commissioners, directs that the jurisdiction conferred by the 17th and 18th Vict., C. 31, in the courts therein specified, shall cease to be exercised by them, and shall be exercised by three railway commissioners, together or separately, instead."
More specifically, these commissioners have:
First. The powers with respect to the approval of working arrangements between railway companies, and with respect to the exercise by such companies of those powers in relation to steam vessels, which were formerly exercised by the Board of Trade.
Second. Authority to hear and determine the matter of any complaint that may be made or referred to them of violations of the railway and canal traffic act as amended in 1873, having for such purpose the jurisdiction conferred by that act on the several courts and judges empowered to hear and determine complaints under it. Third. Except in certain cases to hear and determine matters under the railway and canal traffic act, of the nature of differences between transportation companies which under the provisions of any general or special act are required or authorized to be referred to arbitration.
Fourth. Under prescribed limitations, to determine and apportion the through rates chargeable on freights forwarded over two or more lines.
Fifth. To hear and determine any question or dispute that may arise with respect to the terminal charges of any railway company when such charges have not been fixed by an act of Parliament, as also to prescribe what shall be paid for loading, unloading, delivering, and other like services.
Sixth. To enforce the law as to the publication of all rates of transportation, etc.
The act also provides that the commissioners may, with the sanction of the Treasury, call to their aid any necessary number of experts of engineering or other technical knowledge, and appoint such officers and clerks as they deem proper.
It is further provided that for the purposes of the act in question the commissioners shall have "full power to decide all questions, whether of law or of fact," and shall also have the following powers, that is to say:
"a. They may, by themselves, or by any person appointed by them to prosecute an inquiry, enter and inspect any place or building, being the property or under the control of any railway or canal company, the entry or inspection of which appears to them requisite;
"b. They may require the attendance of all such persons as they think fit to call before them and examine, and may require answers or returns to such inquiries as they think fit to make;
"c. They may require the production of all books, papers and documents relating to the matters before them;
"d. They may administer an oath;
"e. They may, when sitting in court, punish for contempt in like manner as if they were a court of record."
It is also provided that the commissioners may "make such general orders from time to time as may be requisite for the regulation of proceedings before them;" that such orders may be made a rule or order of any superior court, to be enforced in the manner prescribed in the act or in like manner as any rule or order of such court; and that, at the instance of any party to proceedings before them, and upon such security as they may direct, they may state a case in writing for the opinion of any superior court by them determined, upon any question which in the opinion of the commissioners is a question of law, and without allowing a stay upon any
decision or order by themselves made, pending the decision of any such appeal.
The working of this law appears to give general satisfaction. The first and second reports of the commission, now before us, show that its chief labors have been in settling difficulties between rail- ́ way companies; though it has also heard and adjusted some complaints of shippers against carriers. The service rendered by it in these cases is highly appreciated by the companies themselves and by the public, as will appear from numerous comments thereon by the English press.
In confirmation we quote from the last published volume of Bradshaw's Railway Manual:
"Contributing to the same desirable end of economy consequent upon peace with neighbors, the new railway and canal commission promises to operate with more than anticipated potency. An interest which has grown up, as it were, bit by bit, and under the provisions of the various acts of parliament, and of numerous internecine agreements enacted at different times, the provisions of which are often found to be contradictory and irreconcilable one with another, is necessarily liable to occasional differences. In theory, the courts of law are open to disputants in such cases, but we all know how expensive and dilatory the process is found to be. The want of a tribunal with summary jurisdiction to determine questions as to the rights of railways between each other, and as between railways and the public, with the least possible delay, and at the least possible expense, was all but universally admitted. Such a tribunal we have in the railway commissioners, and so effectually has it up to the present time, performed its work, that the government board, (the board of trade,) at whose instance it was established, and by whom its members were selected, will be accorded credit by railway share holders, as well as by the public, for this measure, whatever may have been its short comings in other respects."
The German government
has lately appointed a Commission of Inquiry on Railroads, consisting of nine members, with instructions to acquaint themselves, by the examination of experts and by every other means in their power, with the subject of railway transportation, and as early as