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The Progress of Electricity., Issue 7963, 19 July 1889
The Progress of Electricity.
With reference to electric railway operation it is interesting (writes the American correspondent of ' The Electrician') to cite the figures of the Cambridge division of the West-end Railway, operated by ThomsonHouston motors with overhead trolly connection. It appears that during the month of April of the present year eight motor cars ran 17,680 miles, and the cars they towed 19,149 miles. The number of round trips of motor cars was 2,720, and but seven trips were lost. This is an improvement even over the previous record, when the cars lost but nine trips out of 1,179. The service is very popular with the people, and the cars are crowded.
It may bo noted, while on this subject, that there is now a great deal of agitation in various places where electric railways are going in on the point whether the overhead wires shall be single, using the rail as a return circuit, or whether the companies shall be compelled to put in complete metallic circuits involving the use of double trollies. The electric railway companies naturally prefer the single - trolly system, on account of its simplicity and greater cheapness ; but in several places the telephone people have conducted an active warfare against the single trolly, urging that the rail return seriously affects the efficiency of telephonic communication. On the one hand the telephone companies urge that the street railways ought to have complete metallic circuits, and on the other hand the street railway people all urge that the telephones ought to have metallic circuits. While no decisive settlement of this dispute is to be expected, we shall very likely see the provision insisted on here and there that the complete overhead metallic return shall be used on the new roads. It is worthy of note, however, that this has not been insisted on as one of the conditions iu Boston ; but I expect we shall hear of considerable opposition in that city from propertyowners and others, who imagine themselves to be injuriously affected. Recently, at the meeting of the Beacon Society in Boston, tho subject of electrical developmentwas discussed, more particularly as related to electric light and power. One of the speakers of the evening was Mr C. A. Coffin, the VX3-president and mainspring of the huge Thoiuson-Houston Company. In the course of his remarks, Mr Coffin said that during the last seven years the ThomsonHouston Company had organised nearly 500 local electric light and power companies, and that less than 1 per cent, had got into any financial embarrassment, while not one of the 500 hrd failed to pay its obligations in full. Moreover, tho growth of these companies in the use of arc lights showed an increase of from 1,500 lights six years ago to between 50,000 and 00,000 at tho present time. It may be that here in America we are given to exaggeration and "high falutin'," but I take it that it is simply impossible to exaggerate the importance and significance of such a wonderful growth as this. At the Electrical Exhibition in Philadelphia, in 1884, the Thomson-Houston system was first practically introduced to the public notice in a striking way ; but its two great rivals, the Brush and the United States Companies, were already in possession of large portions of tho field, and had vigorous sub-companies in operation all over the country. Hence the work of developing tho new system was doubly difficult, and yet, as wo have seen, the excellent apparatus and the skilful management were equal to a development like that above referred to, of his share in which Mr Coflin spoke so quietly and modestly. Mr Coffin made the statement that the Thomson-Houston system was being extensively introduced into Japan, and that his company were doing business in Europe, South America, Australasia, Canada, the West Indies, and other parts of the globe. He went on to remark that there are in Massachusetts to-day more electric-light plants than in the whole of Europe. He found Italy to stand at the head of European nations, while in England, owing to the fact that so many gasworks are owned by the town and the city authorities, the process of introducing the electric light is extremely slow, and attended by many difficulties. It was natural that Mr Coffin should make reference to the work that his company is now doing in the matter of electric railways. He said they had found, as a result of all their work—and they had already had a great deal of experience—that the cost of electricity does not exceed GO per cent, of the cost of animal power, while on all the roads where electricity has been adopted there is a marked increasd of traffic and patronage. One of the roada recently started, for example, showed receipts four times as great with four electric cars as they were with five cars run by horses. Mr Coffin's statements as to electric lighting and electric railways were well supplemented by those given by Mr Jenks, who spoke for the Edison system, and who said that the Edison Company now had in this country 200 stations and 1,525 isolated plants, with a total dynamo capacity of 1,126,000 lamps, which, of course, is far short of representing the number of lamps actually wired up to be run of those plants. Some idea of the interest taken in electricity in educational circles is given by the announcement that Princeton College is now to establish a course of electrical engineering.
The Progress of Electricity., Issue 7963, 19 July 1889
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