§ Report of the Select Committee on Railway Schemes within the Limits of the Metropolis considered.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I have to state to your Lordships that the Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, of which I had the honour to be Chairman, took the various schemes laid before Parliament for lines of railway within the metropolis into careful consideration. We had all these schemes before us; all their details were fully discussed, and I have the satisfaction of stating to the House—as I believe I have already briefly stated on a previous occasion—that very great harmony existed among all the Members of the Committee. With a single exception, all their recommendations are unanimous. We found that those schemes were of vast magnitude for so limited an area as the metropolitan district. The new railways proposed to be constructed within that area extended over a length of 174 miles in the aggregate, and involved the raising of capital to the amount of about £44,000,000. It was, of course, impossible all that mileage could be constructed, or all that capital expended for metropolitan railways, because many of those schemes were necessarily competing schemes. At the same time, my Lords, it must be confessed that there was sufficient cause for considerable alarm among the holders of property in the metropolis, and much reason to apprehend that, if any large number of these lines were sanctioned, the traffic of many important public thoroughfares would be seriously interfered with during the construction of those works. Those schemes, as they came before us, included the construction of no less than four new railway bridges across the Thames, two of them—and these of a very large size— being intended to cross the river below London Bridge. It was stated, on the part of some of the civic authorities, that the 1541 lands and buildings scheduled in the City of London, for the proposed railways comprised about one-fourth of the entire area of the City. The Committee found it convenient to adopt as the basis of their proceedings the recommendations of the Select Committee of your Lordships' House which sat last Session; and I think it will be satisfactory to your Lordships to find that, though in many cases we did not adhere to the letter of those recommendations, there is not, that I am aware of, any case in which we departed from their spirit. The Committee divided the Bills before Parliament into three classes, two of which they recommend should be proceeded with in the ordinary course. The first of these is composed of schemes which are only improvements of existing lines of works, such as the enlargement of stations, or the making of additional links, or improving lines already constructed; the second is composed of schemes which contribute towards the formation of an inner circuit, one of the recommendations of the Committee of last Session. With respect to these two classes the Joint Committee propose that the usual course shall be taken and that they shall be referred to Select Committees, subject, however, to certain recommendations. The third class is composed of schemes which we thought should not be pursued at all this year; and it is now my duty to point out to your Lordships the character of this last class. The first two lines comprised in it were the "Victoria Station and Thames Embankment" and the "Oxford Street and City," which it was proposed to work on the pneumatic principle. Now, there is possibly no reason why we may not travel some day underground on this principle, and in a satisfactory and comfortable manner; the experiment of this principle has not yet been made as regards railway passenger carriages. It has been tried for the conveyance of parcels in a small tunnel; but even in this case only to a limited extent. Under these circumstances, we did not think it would be prudent to have the experiment made on a scale of the magnitude of that proposed by those Bills, more especially when the works would interfere with the traffic in crowded thoroughfares of the metropolis. The next line in this class was the "London Main Trunk." It proposed to provide a more central station for the Great Eastern Railway. The Select Committee of last year recommended that the 1542 Great Eastern Company should be allowed to establish a more central station than it has at present; but this object is sought to be accomplished by the Great Eastern Company itself through another Bill. The "Metropolitan Grand Union—the portion south of Thames Street," we have also included in this list. It would involve a high-level bridge over the river below London Bridge. The "Charing Cross Northern" and the "Tottenham and Hampstead Junction (Extension to Charing Cross)" both presented this objection to the Committee—that they tended to create a great central station at Charing Cross. The "Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway "was open to the same objection as regarded Farringdon Street; and, in addition to other objections, the "Charing Cross (Western)," the "London Union," and portions of the "Metropolitan District," would require the construction of bridges across the Thames—one a high-level below London Bridge. I may observe, in relation to those schemes, that though we have recommended that portions of lines which were designed to form an outer circuit should not be proceeded with this year, we concur with the Committee of last Session in thinking that such a circuit is desirable; but from some of the evidence given to the Committee, particularly that of the Secretary of the London and North Western Railway Company, it appeared to us that this object might be accomplished by connecting the existing railways on the eastern side of the metropolis with one another by certain small links, and connecting such of them as are situated on the north side of the Thames with the railways on the south side by means of the Thames Tunnel. Certain arrangements between several of the railway companies would be necessary in order to carry out this scheme, and we think a legislative enactment may be necessary in order to secure an interchange of facilities on equal terms between the parties necessarily interested. As we recommend that the parties promoting the lines in the last of the three classes to which I have referred should not be allowed to proceed in the usual way, we have thought it only reasonable to further recommend that the fees which have been incurred by them in respect of those Bills should be remitted. With these observations I beg to move—That the following Bills be not proceeded with in the present Session—namely, Victoria Station and Thames Embankment Railway, Oxford Street 1543 and City Railway, London Main Trunk Under, ground Railway, Charing Cross (Northern) Railway, Charing Cross (Western) Railway, Tottenham and Hampstead junction Railway (Extension to Charing Cross), London Union Railways, and Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Ordered, That the Fees which have been incurred in respect of the said Bills he remitted.
§ Ordered, That the said Report be referred to all Select Committees to which any Railway Bills within the Limits of the Metropolis may be referred in the present Session.—(The Lord President.)
§ House adjourned at half past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.