The Premier Railway System. And Those Who Work It

A few instructive extracts are given by the Paris Herald from an article by Hector Macfarlane in a recent number of the Railway Magazine upon the L & N.W. Railway whose greatness as “the Premier line ” we are called upon to join with the author in eulogizing, and whose stupendous wages bill it seems to be expected we shall contemplate “in wonder and amaze.” The income of this company for the year of grace 1906 was considerably in excess of £15,000,000 and it is anticipated that the present ideal of £20,000,000 will be realised within a few years.


Of this £15,000,000 no less a sum than £5,300,000 was paid in salaries and wages. This amount includes the salary of the General Manager who, it is alleged, is in receipt of the fairly adequate “dot” of £7,000 per annum. Of course all the members of the staff are not remunerated upon the some generous scale— quite. A number only receive £3,000 or £2,000, and even £1,000 and less is well within the experience of a considerable number. In fact, according to an examination made by the Railway Review it would appear that there are some in receipt of less than £53 per annum seeing that £53 is the average which the Railway Review informs us the total wages bill works out to per head. But then it must not be overlooked that every one of these something less-than-a-pound-a-weekers, have by the exercise of thrift and temperance and whole-souled concentration upon the business of the Company, an opportunity (nearly free and moderately unfettered) of rising to the position of General Manager at £7,000 a year—general managers being always products of such exercises! And if they don’t seize their opportunities they have no one to blame but themselves.


But even if it be objected that as there is only one manager, the odds against the aspirant for managerial position are, as that anti-betting organ, the Daily News would say, somewhat “long,” there is always the unanswerable retort that these bottom dogs have the gratification of knowing that they are working for “the Premier line of Great Britain” — absolutely the only Premier line in this happy island. No employee of any other line can say as much or nearly as much. The solace which the L. & N.W.R. submerged tenth must derive from that reflection when the baby wants new shoes and Johnny’s trousers refuse to stand another patch, and the bread-and-dripping diet begins to pall, must be incalculable— worth another pound a week (or thereabouts) at least.


But Mr. Macfarlane has more information for us. The debenture holders, it appears, draw £1,000,000 per annum as their share of the proceeds of the work they don’t do, while preference, guaranteed, and ordinary stockholders annex a matter of £5,000,000 in return for their kindness in providing the means for the working of the Premier transit system. In view of the fact that many of these have probably never seen the great company in action (indubitably an inestimable loss to them) it will he readily agreed, and by none more readily than the less-than-a-pound-a-weekers who merely do the work of the line, that the stockholders’ annual share of the income estimated by the Railway Review as representing an average of a paltry £73 per head per annum, is by no means excessive.
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