Monday, 27 February 2012

The Hours Train Drivers Worked - 1892

It is no secret that Victorian railway workers were on duty for considerable lengths of time. In 1892 the government, concerned with the possible implications for safety of long working hours, established a committee to look into the issues and report. The committee took testimony from many railway employees of all grades and because of the serious nature of what was revealed to the public, much of it was reported in the press.

Therefore, when searching for information on the Midland and South Western Junction Railway (M&SWJR), I found that the Manchester Times had reported the length that some of the companies' drivers were on duty for. One, named Evans, had worked in a fortnight one twenty-six hour shift, two twenty-four hour, forty minute ones and one twenty-four hour one. Another, Butler, had in a forty-one hour period been driving trains for thirty-eight hours, and had two spells of twenty-four hours in one week. Lastly, one driver had been on duty for twenty-eight out of twenty-nine hours.[1]

As the article noted, these were extreme cases. But there is no doubt that generally railway companies placed cost before safety by allowing such practices to exist. Indeed, it is unsurprising that in the period many accidents were caused by driver's fatigue and dulled responses.

[1] Manchester Times, Friday, April 22, 1892, Issue 1812.

No comments:

Post a Comment