Era of High Speed

Boston Transcript

THIS is an era of high speed. The feat of attaining a speed of one hundred and five miles an hour on the electric railroad between Berlin and Zossen is the latest manifestation of the tendency of the age. This particular railroad has been built under the direction of the Kaiser as primarily a military line, he having made up his mind to test the value of electric traction in war. Presumably its success will induce the country to be gridironed with electric lines as "first aids" in mobilization. The results of the speed trials are, however, commercially valuable, as indicating how important a factor electricity may become as a transportation agency, though we must know more than we know now of the conditions under which the German experiment was made before conclusions are absolutely safe as to the utilization of forces. A vast amount of knowledge remains to be attained before we can figure the commercial value of electricity as a motive power on a scale more extended than its present use.

But it is not alone in Germany that speeding up is the order of the day. Here in the United States the transcontinental lines are virtually being rebuilt, the reconstruction being pointed toward speed. The trip between Boston and the Pacific coast, which only a few years ago "spoiled" a week can now be made in four days and four hours. This time will be sharply cut when the improvements between Ogden and San Francisco, now in progress, have been completed. Benton, we believe it was, who in the discussion of the Pacific railroad project was wont to point to the setting sun and say: "There is the east." The speed race on this continent is westward, to gain the markets of the East. At the Pacific coast the fast-speeding trains will shortly be met by steamers much faster and much larger than any heretofore known in our China-Japan service.

All railroads tributary to the transcontinental system—and most lines are now—feel the influence of this expansion and are placing big orders for rolling stock. The entire output of the American Locomotive Company for 1902 has been contracted for in advance. Its capacity is two thousand locomotives per annum. For through business, for long hauls, the iron horse still more than holds its own. Nor can it be expected that it will be stabled for good until the doubts as to the cost of electricity for the same business have been resolved to the point of demonstrating that it is a cheaper agency than steam.

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The Great Salt Lake
July 24, 1902

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