# The Working and Management of an English Railway/Chapter 3

CHAPTER III.

The Staff.

The staff employed by the London and North-Western Railway Company (exclusive of the staff engaged upon lines owned jointly by the North-Western and other companies) consists at the present time of 55,217 persons of all grades, and these are made up as follows:—

 Salaried officers and clerks 6,770 Drivers, firemen, guards, breaksmen, and signalmen 8,298 Other servants working at weekly wages in the various departments 40,149 Total⁠ 55,217

About 22,000 of these persons are engaged in one way or another in connection with the working of the traffic, the remainder being clerks, artificers, labourers, etc. A certain percentage are boys in training in the various departments, and the total includes about 130 girls and women who are employed at the principal goods stations in the performance of certain duties in connection with the accounts department, for which they are found to be peculiarly suitable. This experiment was first tried some years ago, and being found to be fairly successful, both on the score of economy and efficiency, is being gradually extended within certain limits.

To carry on the traffic of a great railway one of the main essentials is a highly-trained and thoroughly qualified staff, and it may justly be said that the companies spare neither trouble nor expense in securing and maintaining this most important requirement. The practice adopted by the London and North-Western Company, and it is, in the main, the one which is observed by all English Railway Companies, is to appoint lads about fourteen years of age as boy porters, telegraph boys, and for other similar employments; these lads grow up in the service, and by the time they reach manhood they have become experienced in railway duties in their various branches, and are eligible for filling such posts as become vacant. The most scrupulous attention is paid to the training of signal-men, a class of men the difficult and responsible nature of whose enployment can hardly be exaggerated, and they are never entrusted with the sole charge of signals until they have received a specific course of instruction in the duties. The period of training varies according to the importance of the posts at which the men are to be stationed, but their appointments are not confirmed until the superintendent of the division has certified that he has examined the men, and finds them to possess every qualification for the posts they are to fill, including freedom from colour-blindness, which is a fatal defect in a railway servant. The guards of passenger trains are usually chosen from the ranks of the porters; and the goods train guards, or brakesmen, are selected from the goods porters, shunters, and men of that class; but all these men are subjected to a rigid examination before being appointed, and due regard is had, not only to their knowledge and experience, but to their general intelligence, capacity, and character.

For the superior positions of inspectors, foremen, station-masters, and the higher grades of the service, it is the invariable rule to select men from the lower ranks, solely on the ground of merit, the best man for a particular post being chosen, irrespective of seniority or any other circumstance. Thus it is no unusual thing for a station-master, by reason of special aptitude, to rise to the position of divisional superintendent, and even of General Manager.

As regards the highest positions, at the time when railways were a new feature in the social life of the country, and their promoters looked around them for men suitable to direct their operations and control the large, number of persons engaged in working them, they found none who, in their opinion, at that time, were so suitably as officers who had retired from the army and navy, it being supposed that their acquaintance with discipline and the habits of command they had acquired in the pursuit of their former avocations, would stand them in good stead in their novel career. Thus, in connection with the London and North-Western Railway, we recall the names of Captain Huish and Captain Bruyeres; the North Eastern Company appointed Captain O'Brien as their general manager; the Lancashire and Yorkshire, Captain Lawes, R.N., and the Caledonian, Captain Coddington, R.N., besides other officers of the two services, whose names might be mentioned. As time went on, and the strictly commercial character of these great undertakings became more evident and pronounced, it was perceived that the duties of the highest positions in connection with them required for their efficient performance men who had received a business training, and were thoroughly acquainted with all the details of railway working. It thus became gradually the practice to promote men of talent and capacity from the lower ranks of the service, from one post to another, through the intervening grades, until they reached the highest positions attainable, and the present writer can recall, within his own personal experience, many cases in which men have risen from subordinate posts to become general managers of some of the most important railways in the kingdom.

Thus the humblest railway servant, if he does not, like one of Napoleon's corporals, carry a marshal's bâton in his knapsack, may at least contemplate a field of possible promotion of almost as wide a scope. It is scarcely necessary to say that engine-drivers are very carefully trained for their duties before being entrusted with the charge of a locomotive. They usually commence service as lads in the engine sheds, where they are employed as cleaners; after a time they are promoted to be firemen; then to be drivers of goods trains; next to be drivers of slow or local passenger trains, and, ultimately, the most experienced and intelligent men are selected to drive the express passenger, and mail trains.

The Company are very far from being unmindful of the material welfare of the men they employ, and indeed it is their constant study to maintain the most cordial and friendly relations with them, and to make them feel that their employers have a sincere interest in them and in their well-being at all times, apart from the mere buying and selling of their labour; in fact, they are taught to regard their employers as their best friends and advisers, as should be the case in every department of labour where proper relations exist between master and man.

Several funds or societies have been established in connection with the Company's service, in order to enable every member of the staff to make prudent provision against the results of accident, sickness, death, or old age, and a brief description of the working of these societies, which, judging from the success which has attended their operations, may to some extent be regarded as models of their kind, may not be without interest.

The first, and in some respects the most important, is the "Superannuation Fund Association," which was also the first established, having been in existence since 1853, and is for the benefit only of the salaried officers and clerks of the Company, its object being to provide each contributing member with a superannuation allowance on his retirement from the service at the age of sixty years, or at any earlier period should his health permanently fail, provided he has been at the time of his retirement a paying member for ten years.

There is also a payment to the member's representatives in the event of his death before superannuation. Membership is compulsory upon every servant of the Company receiving a monthly salary, and is in fact made a condition of entering the service, with the proviso, that no person is permitted to become a member after the age of 26 years.

The members' contributions amount to 2½ per cent, per annum upon their salaries, deducted monthly from their pay, but the Company contribute, in respect of each member, an amount exactly equal to his own contribution. The accumulated balance is Invested in the hands, and under the trust, of the Company, at such average rates of interest as the Company, from time to time, pay on their debenture bonds and mortgages, the interest being carried to the credit of the fund at the close of each half year. The fund is administered by a committee of six persons, three of whom are nominated by the directors, and three are elected by the members. In the event of the death of a member before superannuation, his representatives receive either the equivalent of half-a-year's average salary, calculated over the whole term of his contributions or the sum of his own contributions and those of the Company in his behalf, whichever be the greater. Any member retiring from the Company's service before superannuation, bonâ fide of his own accord, receives back one half the amount of his own contributions to the fund. A member whose engagement is terminated by the Company from any cause other than fraud or dishonesty receives the whole of his own contributions, but if he is dismissed for dishonesty, he may, in the discretion of the Committee, forfeit the whole.

 Years ofContributioncompleted. Superannuationin percentageof averagesalary. Years ofContributioncompleted. Superannuationin percentageof averagesalary. Years ofContributioncompleted. Superannuationin percentageof averagesalary. Years ofContributioncompleted. Superannuationin percentageof averagesalary. 10 25 19 36 28 46 37 56 11 26 20 37 29 47 38 58 12 27 21 38 30 48 39 60 13 28 22 39 31 50 40 61 14 29 23 40 32 51 41 62 15 30 24 42 33 52 42 63 16 32 25 43 34 53 43 64 17 34 26 44 35 54 44 65 18 35 27 45 36 55 45& upwards 67

The pensions of those members who remain in the service and claim them are calculated upon the foregoing graduated scale, to which, however, an addition of or 8⅓ per cent, is made, in accordance with a supplementary regulation prescribed by the actuaries since the scale was laid down.

The fund has, at the present time, 5,705 members, its revenue amounting to £50,000 per annum, and its accumulated balance to considerably more than half a million sterling. Yet the actuaries who, in accordance with the Deed Poll, thoroughly investigate the position of the fund every five years, advise that the benefits are the maximum that can safely be accorded, consistently with maintaining the association upon a sound financial basis.

The "London and North-Western Insurance Society" was established in 1871, its object being to provide for every member of the wages staff, except those in the Locomotive Department (of whom more hereafter), pecuniary relief in cases of temporary or permanent disablement, arising from accident occurring while in the discharge of duty, and also a payment in all cases of death, whether the result of accident or natural causes. Membership of this Society is compulsory upon all men on joining the service, and each man is called upon to sign an agreement under which the Company undertakes to contribute to the funds of the Society a sum equal to five-sixths of the premiums from time to time payable by the employé, and the latter agrees to accept such contributions, and any advantages to which he may be entitled under the rules of the Society, in satisfaction of any claim which be or his representatives might otherwise have had under the provisions of the "Employers' Liability Act" of 1880. By these means, for a small payment, the men, or their families, become entitled to a substantial sum in case of death or disablement, without any delay or any question being raised as to the circumstances of the accident from which they suffer, and this is far more to their advantage than being left with the questionable privilege of claiming under the Act, with all the delay, expense, and doubtful result of legal proceedings. Moreover, a state of good feeling is engendered between the men and their employers which could not be the case to an equal extent if each were taught to look upon the other as a possible opponent in litigation, and any legislation such as has from time to time been threatened in the direction of preventing the men from contracting themselves out of the provisions of the Act is justly viewed by the majority of the London and North-Western employés with dislike and dread, and is much to be deprecated alike in their interest and that of their employers. The premiums payable by the members are as follows:—

 Class 1.—Passenger Guards, and Breaksmen, and (optionally) men of other grades receiving wages of 21s. per week and upwards 3d. per week. „ 2.—All other Wages staff, except those in Class 3 2d  „ „ 3.—Boys and Persons whose Wages are under 12s. per week 1d  „

The scale of benefits is as under:—

 Sum insured in case of death arising from accident whilst in the discharge of duty. Allowance in case of permanent disablement and incapacity to resume employment arising from accident whilst in the discharge of duty. Weekly allowance in case temporary disablement by accident whilst in the discharge of duty. Sum insured in case of death from any cause not provided for in column No. 1 During continuance of disablement, not exceeding 52 weeks. £ £ s. d. s. d. Class 1 100 100 0 0 21 0 ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ £10 0 „ 2 80 80 0 0 14 0 „ 3 40 40 0 0 7 0 5 0

The members elect delegates to represent them at the general meetings, viz., five for each of the twelve districts into which the line is divided, and the affairs of the Society are managed by a committee of 15 persons, 12 of whom are elected by the delegates from their own body, one representing each district, and three members are nominated by the Directors and are termed the "Company's nominees."

On the 31st December, 1888, this Society consisted of 39,602 members; its income for the year 1888 was upwards of £31,000, and it had an accumulated balance in hand of more than £23,000, the amount paid out to the members in the shape of benefits during the year being £29,148.

The "London and North-Western Provident Society," an offshoot of the Insurance Society, was established in 1874 with the object of providing a weekly allowance in cases of ordinary sickness for the men composing the wages staff of the Company (other than those employed in the locomotive department); a retiring allowance for permanently disabled members; and a sum at death in all cases not provided for by. the rules of the Insurance Society. There is also an allowance to meet medical and funeral expenses on the death of a member's wife. Membership is compulsory as a condition of service. The Company contribute £800 per annum to the funds of this Society in addition to crediting the fund with the fines inflicted upon their servants, and the scale of payments by the members and of benefits is as follows:—

 Class. Weekly Payments Sum insured in case of Temporary Disablement for work owing to Sickness or to Accident incurred while not in the discharge of duty, or from any cause, not provided for in the Rules of the Insurance Society. Sum insured in case of Death from other causes than that provided for by the Rules of the Insurance Society under the head of accident on duty, the deceased having been a Member during the six months immediately preceding his Death. Payment upon death of Member's Wife to meet medical and funeral expenses subject to approval of Committee in each case. Retiring gratuity to be paid to Members in the event of their becoming disqualified for duty, either through the infirmity of age, or earlier, upon a medical certificate from a doctor, approved by the Committee. During Disablement, not exceeding 52 weeks. A sum not exceeding After 5 & not, exceeding 10 years membership. After 10 & not exceeding 15 years membership. After 15 & not exceeding 20 years membership. After 20 years membership. 1st Members receiving Wages of 12s. per week and upwards 4d. 12s. £10 ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ £5 £12 s.10 £25 s.0 £37 s.10 £50 2nd Members whose wages are under 12s. per week 2d. 6s. £5 6 5 12 10 18 15 25

The Society is managed in the same way, and by the same committee, as the Insurance Society. It has upwards of 23,500 members, with an income from all sources of £21,000, and an accumulated balance of nearly £40,000, the amount paid to members in the shape of benefits, under the various heads, during the year 1888, being upwards of £18,000.

The "London and North-Western Pension Fund," also for the benefit of the wages staff, was established as recently as 1883, and has therefore been in operation less than six years. Its object is to provide a retiring pension for members after they attain the age of 65, or for such members as, having reached the age of 60 years, are no longer able, by reason of failing health, or impaired energies, to continue at work. There are two classes of members, and a man on entering the service may elect to join either one class or the other. First-class members pay 2d. per week, to secure a pension on retirement of 10s. per week, while second-class members pay 1d. per week, and are entitled to a pension of 7s. per week. The Company contribute nearly £5,000 per annum to the fund, which is administered by the same committee as the Insurance and Provident Funds.

With a view to consolidate the two Funds, and thus enable them to be worked for the greater advantage of the members, arrangements have been made, as from the 1st January, 1889, to amalgamate the Provident Society with the Pension Fund. New members entering the combined society, who were not previously members of the former Provident Society or Pension Fund, upon attaining the pension age will not, on leaving the service, be entitled to receive a retiring gratuity, but will in lieu thereof be allowed an increased pension of it per week. To those who were members of the former societies it will be optional whether they take the retiring gratuity or the increase of pension.

It has been thought that the case of the men employed in the locomotive department differs in some degree from that of the men engaged in the traffic and permanent way departments, seeing that amongst a body of men who are continually coming and going, and constitute, in fact, a sort of floating population, no scheme which provides for a large surplus or reserve fund would be equitable, and therefore the following plan has been adopted:—

A society has been formed, or rather two societies—one for Crewe works and one for the engine drivers, firemen, and others comprising what is known as the "running department." These societies are managed by delegates elected by the members, assisted by representatives of the Company; and there is a scale of benefits ranging, according to the grade of the men, from £40 to £100 in the case of death or permanent disablement from accident on duty, with a weekly allowance in case of temporary disablement from any cause, and a payment in the event of death from natural causes. The expenses are met by calls upon the members from time to time throughout the year, as necessity arises, but averaging from five to ten calls per annum ranging from 4d. to 1s. per call, according to the men's pay, the Company supplementing these payments by liberal contributions. The number of men in these two societies amounts to upwards of 15,000.

By means of these twin societies, the men employed in that most important branch of the railway service the Locomotive Department, are enabled, at an expense to themselves so small as hardly to be felt, to make a substantial provision against the results of illness and of death, either from accident arising in the discharge of their duties, or from natural causes.