pecuniary liabilities as the result of such crossings. On the other hand, the communities through which they pass are greatly benefited and the properties of such communities are increased in value by the roads. The expense incident to such great benefits should be borne in just proportion by the interests benefited. The imposition of one-half of the expense upon the town, village or city would operate as a check on the unnecessary opening of streets and highways."

In drafting the bill which is submitted with this report, and which immediately follows it, the Board has proceeded upon the theory that some of the questions connected with this subject can not be satisfactorily predetermined or adjusted. Perusal of the bill will show that questions of this class have been disposed of by providing that the courts shall pass upon them in whole or in part.

The Board renews its recommendation that the nature and cost of the construction under or over railroad property in certain cases must be fixed by a commission of three to be appointed by the courts. Of these three, one should represent the railroad, one the town, village or city, and one should be a competent civil engineer.

As a whole, it may be said that the bill now submitted is drawn after careful study of measures which have produced good results in other States, and the Board is not aware of any existing condition in this State which would prevent its successful operation here. It may be proper to again reiterate what has been said in the earlier pages of the report that there is full recognition by the Board of the peculiar difficulties now surrounding the companies, and of the consequent necessity of pushing such a measure as this, with extreme consideration. Former reports indicate that the Board has always recognized that the improvement involved in a general abolition of existing grade crossings is one of great magnitude, and for that reason the


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Board has always suggested that it should be carried on gradually rather than rapidly. It is, however, desirable to embody the proposition in legislation and to make a beginning. This State has reached so advanced a stage in its material development that its existing enterprises and institutions must be regarded as permanent. They must, therefore, be slowly but surely established upon substantial and enduring foundations. Great works, whether public or private, must be completed in a manner befitting the final and lasting character which we believe our State is to assume. The construction of railroads may have been hasty or imperfect in ruder days. At present, it can only fit the later condition of the general community when brought to a state as nearly approaching perfection as is practicable. The change from the cheap and destructive grade crossing to a substantial and safe form of crossing over or under the public highway, is an important step toward the form which the railways of the State are to assume. In many particulars the companies show full appreciation of their obligations. They have vastly improved their structure both for purposes of safety and to afford comfort to travelers. The contrast between their present appearance and condition with those of even ten years ago is striking and admirable.

The Board is also of the opinion that where an electric railroad proposes to cross an existing steam railroad there should not be a grade crossing, and has incorporated a section in the bill with this view.


Two hundred and twenty-seven trespassers on railroad tracks were killed during the year and 155 injured, compared with 197 killed and 113 injured during the year 1893. This increase may be accounted for by the increase in the number of miscellaneous floating characters or tramps whose lives are spent on freight trains or in walking between stations.


Automatic Couplers and Air-Brakes.

Gratifying progress is being made by the various roads of the State under chapters 543 and 544 of the Laws of 1893, in regard to the equipment of freight cars with automatic couplers and air-brakes. From what the Board can ascertain as to results in other States under the act of Congress in regard to this subject, and from a perusal of the latest reports of the Interstate Commerce Commission, it is justified in expressing the belief that the equipment of this State is in advance of that of the rest of the Union. This view is decidedly confirmed by the fact that accidents to employes in the remainder of the Union seem to increase rather than to diminish, while in this State they have diminished. It is further confirmed by the contrast exhibited in this State between the increase of the deaths and injuries of trespassers and the diminution of the casualties to employes.


Guard Rails and Frogs.

Two persons have been killed and nine injured during the past year by having feet caught in guard rails or frogs, as compared with eleven killed and eighteen injured during the year 1893. The railroad companies are observing the recommendations of this Board in regard to blocking frogs and guard rails. This is an especially gratifying result, as the victims of this sort of accident are, without exception, employes of the companies, and it is impossible for them to protect themselves against the peril of the frog that is not blocked.


The amendment to the Railroad Law which prohibits the discontinuance of a railroad station without the consent of this Board, continues to work satisfactorily. The decisions of the Board in applications under this provision have been complied with by the companies without exception.

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Lighting Cars.

Railroad companies are making rapid progress in the equipment of their passenger coaches with apparatus for lighting by gas. Experiments are being made also in regard to lighting by electricity and the furnishing of power for that purpose from the axle. The Board renews its recommendations of last year on this subject, as it believes that all passenger coaches should be lighted by either gas or electricity.

Strengthening Cars.

This Board in its reports for the last two years has made specific recommendations looking to the strengthening of cars. The Master Car Builders' Association has taken up this subject. The building of baggage, mail and express cars without platforms should also receive attention; the car would be stronger if so built and would afford better protection for life and property.

Drawbridges on the Hudson.

An accident in 1892 at New Hamburgh caused by the opening of a drawbridge over a so-called arm of the sea, led the Board to make a recommendation which it has since persistently repeated, to the effect that legislation both by the State and by Congress should close these drawbridges. The accident referred to in 1892 was the second at that point, produced by the same cause, each resulting in a number of deaths. There are five such drawbridges between Albany and Spuyten Duyvil which it is deemed proper to close. The last Legislature, at the request of this Board, passed in one house a measure which would have promoted this purpose, but it failed to pass the other house. The Board again recommends the adoption of such action, and continues the recommenda tions heretofore made on this subject.

Physical Condition of Railroads.

In spite of the financial difficulties of the past year and the drain upon the resources of the railroads, their physical condition has been well maintained. In many directions it has been positively improved. All of the roads are under a constant inspection, which includes a careful examination of their equipment, roadbed, bridges and masonry structures. Defects or needed improvements are noted and the companies are immediately notified thereof and have invariably complied with the recommendations of the Board.

Railroad companies are improving the method of application of brakes for high speed passenger trains.

The Board renews its recommendations of last year in regard to the advisability of equipping passenger cars on other than single track railroads with platform gates, and locomotive engines with a muffler for the safety valve, and a device to protect the check valve in case of collision.

By chapter 439 of the Laws of 1884, adopted at the suggestion of this Board, the provisions of which have been incorporated in section 49 of the present Railroad Law, subdivision 1, split-point switches or some other kind of safety switch is required to be laid. It would seem that all stub switches existing at the time of the passage of the act of 1884 should by this time have been replaced by switches in conformity with this section, and that careful railroad management would see the necessity of completing this change as the safety of the traveling public and employes is largely involved in it.

The tendency to increased weight of rail is noted by the action of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company in laying some seventy miles of 100-pound rails on its Hudson River division, its purpose being to relay the whole of this division with this rail.

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