The War Footing of railroads.
The presidents of the railroads in Virginia
have prepared a statement relative to the expenses of conducting them at war prices, in which we find some valuable statistics.
In the matter of wages paid to their employees, it appears that an average advance of eight hundred per cent. on peace rates has been found necessary, except in negro hire, which has been advanced about four hundred per cent. In other expenses, the advance has been much greater; and, in addition to this, the great scarcity of labor, the high price of oils, tallow, etc., and the daily deterioration of the machinery, has to be contended with.
In the depreciation of their property from these and similar causes, one of the principal companies of the State
estimate their annual loss at $700,000, and in this do not include the losses of bridges, machinery and roadway, caused by the contending armies, which is over $1,000,000. Notwithstanding this fact, the tolls are only ten times, and the fares only five times, what they were before the war. Reducing the fare to an article of indispensable necessity to railroad companies, it is shown that where a passenger who paid four dollars before the war and twenty dollars now, might now pay his fare for two pounds of tallow (or its value in money.) In the matter of the surplus revenues and the large dividends declared, this pamphlet says that it is from the impossibility of expending this surplus in making proper repairs to the roads and stock — the material for repairs not being in the country — and that all this must inevitably be met by the stockholders at some future day. The presidents, in view of these facts, deprecate hostile legislation, State or Confederate, and say:
"From these facts, it follows that unless our railroads are sustained by enlightened and liberal legislation and action of our public authorities, State and Confederate, instead of being made, without defence or advocacy, the object of constant and blind denunciation and of hostile class legislation,
they inevitably must be broken down,
and be lost to the country and to our military operations,
for all history and experience proves that their attempted maintenance and operation by Government
officials will inevitably only hasten, with greatly increased expense, their final ruin.
They are now in the control and management of those whose personal interest in their maintenance and efficiency is far greater, and whose justice, liberality and patriotism are certainly no less than those of any
Government officer. "