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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/64

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

become the invariable rule, and so, despite the influence of England, her engineers, etc., the right-hand rule in our own railway orders, was in the last century usually adopted. We still have three double-track railways which, owing to English habit, having started as left-passers, still continue the practise—the Lake Shore, the Chicago and Northwestern, and the Great Northern. All others have been right-hand roads from the beginning of double tracking. It is most astonishing to find that any railway in double-tracking should have adopted left-passing, because the engineer sits (or stands) always on the right side of his engine or cab, and uses his left hand on the throttle, observing the signals at his right. In left-hand roads it is plain that he is at a disadvantage in seeing the signals because of intervening trains or cars upon the track at his right. A great element of danger is thus introduced. This may possibly help to account for the existence of two exceptions to the rule in England—one between Charing Cross and Cannon Street in London, and another, one of the first suburban lines run out of London, that formerly known as the Greenwich Railway, from London Bridge to Greenwich. Various explanations have been suggested to explain these exceptions to the rule.

The danger in left-hand roads of obscured signals by intervening trains must at least complicate and make more expensive the working, and it will never be learned how many accidents and wrecks may have been caused by the unnatural method. Even on right-hand roads the signal systems alone are now costing more than the entire construction a little while ago. Some 50 miles of modern signal systems are being put in by the New York Central Railway at a cost of $60,000 a mile, or $3,000,000 in all. There are all-controlling reasons why, once established, a modern left-hand railway can not change to a right-hand one, although the disadvantages of left-hand roads grow amazingly every year. The switches into factories, mills, yards, etc., once established must be kept up, and hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of property and vested rights are concerned. A train should enter a switch "head-on," and established switches are so designed.

Incidentally the history of signals is of interest. At first watchmen or policemen were stationed along the line as signalmen using white and red flags in the daytime, and at night lanterns of the same colors. The signalmen at first stood upon the track, then to one side. The mechanical signals are at present often overhead. When the man was displaced by a mechanical device it was at first the figure of a man, with body, head, etc., and with two arms rising and falling as did the living man's arms. Then, the signal was vertically cut in two leaving the man's half-body, half-head and one arm. That one arm is now in lineal descent represented by the dropping and rising arm