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The company is officially described as “ Chemins de Fer Ottomans BeyrouthDamas-Hauran et Biredjik sur l'Euphrate," and has, as it now stands, a share capital of 15,000,000 fr. (£600,000), and a nominal 4 per cent. debenture capital of 60,000,000 fr. (£2,400,000) redeemable in 90 years, converted from a 3 per cent. debenture stock. The reconstruction of the company was concluded on March 21st, 1907.
In addition to the railway, the company is interested in the harbour of Beyrouth, which is owned by & French Société Anonyme called the “ Société du Port de Beyrouth," and the railway company lent to this company a sum of £200,000 which has recently been converted into debentures secured on the port and quay dues. The excessive dues charged have so hampered the trade of Beyrouth that the railway has entirely failed to develop traffic. The critical financial position of the railway which resulted from this and other causes induced a majority of the debenture holders to refer the matter to the “ Association Nationale des Porteurs Français de Valeurs étrangères," who appointed a Committee of Defence which convoked a meeting of the interested parties on March 16th to consider a scheme of reconstruction. The scheme which was finally adopted on March 21st is briefly as follows :
The gross receipts of the company and the sums received from the Turkish Government under guarantees are to be passed to a credit account, and after payment of (1) general expenses ; (2) debenture interest; and (3) an annuity of 420,000 fr. (£16,800) (to be paid as a first charge on the supplementary guarantee of 2,500 fr. per kilom. enjoyed by the Rayak-Hama section of the DamascusBiredjik line), the balance is to be divided in the proportion of 90 per cent. to debenture holders and 10 per cent. to shareholders, with the express reserve, however, that nothing shall be paid to shareholders unless a minimum of 10 fr. shall have been received by debenture holders.
The extension of the line to Biredjik is reported by the company to have been postponed in consequence of the representation of the Turkish Government that the condition of the country rendered it impossible for them to guarantee the safety of those engaged in the building of the line. On this ground the company obtained from the Turkish Government an annual payment of £30,000 for five years as compensation for the withholding of the permission to build.
The gradients on this line are very severe, so much so that over a considerable distance the “ Abt" system, with a third or "rack" rail, has become necessary. The goods waggons are calculated to carry 8 tons, and a train of 87 tons was experi. mentally hauled up the steepest gradient
(about one in 17) at a speed of 12 kiloms. per hour. The gauge is 1 metre.
Haiffa Railway.-The Haiffa Railway, which is to connect Damascus with the sea and includes a system of branches to serve as an outlet for the Hauran, with the Persian Gulf as the ultimate objective, has been under consideration since the year 1890, when the concession was first granted to a Syrian engineer and made over by him to an Englishman. The scheme suffered in the first instance through being in weak financial hands, and the delay which resulted from this facilitated opposition to the line, which is very active on the part of the French groupinterested in the Beyrout-DamascusHauran and Damascus-Biredjik lines. The nature and prospects of the Haiffa line are dealt with in detail in an interesting report on railways in Asiatic Turkey, written by Sir E. Law in 1896, and published as a Parliamentary Paper (Turkey, No. 4, 1896). It will be seen that, while Sir E. Law thinks very highly of the line
an outlet for the grain-producing districts of the Hauran, he doubts the possibility of attracting through traffic from the Persian Gulf or from India to this route, and supports his theory by arguments which unanswerable. Moreover, the port of Beyrout is small and impracticable for large steamers, while Haiffa possesses a good natural harbour which, in Sir E. Law's opinion, could be made to afford shelter at all seasons to large steamers with a comparatively small outlay, but the greatest opposition is being encountered by the British group who own the concession.
In addition to all the other advantages of the Haiffa over the Beyrout line, the distance from the Hauran to Haiffa is forty miles less than from the Hauran to Damascus and Beyrout by the French line. The British company undertakes the construction of the line without any kilometric guarantee, but even that has not yet sufficed to induce the Turkish Government to consent to the claims of the concessionaires of the Haiffa Railway.
In addition to the opposition of the French group interested in the BeyroutDamascus line, a new difficulty has sprung up in the way of the Haiffa group. The line during a part of its course, i.e., from Damascus to Mezrib, follows the caravan route from the former place to Mecca, and thus interferes with the new Hedjaz Railway, the construction of which has been ordered by the Sultan.
In point of fact this circumstance ought to tell in favour of the British line, instead of standing in its way. The Hedjaz Railway will require an outlet, and Haiffa is its natural terminus on the sea-board, while for the conveyance of material it is impossible to make use of the Beyrout line. A combination between the Haiffa and the Hedjaz ought, consequently, to be to the advantage of both railways.
Hedjaz Railway.-The latest railway scheme of Sultan Abdul Hamid is a line to connect Damascus with the Holy Places of Islam. The idea is to establish railway communication between the Seat of The Caliphate and the Tomb of the Prophet. The Damascus-Biredjik projected railway comes within 40 miles of the main Bagdad Railway at Urfa, and this is the point at which a junction may be effected.* But the scheme is a very long way from realisation. In the meantime, as a preliminary step, a telegraph line has been established between Con. stantinople and Medina, and will be extended to Mecca; and in the first message sent over the line the Sultan informed the Grand Cherif that he looked forward to the day when the completion of a railway line to Mecca would enable His Majesty in person to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Places.
The route to be followed by the projected railway is the ordinary caravan route, and it is proverbial in this country that a camel track is the best line for a railway to follow, the reason being that as camels are practically useless in hilly, country the line followed by caravans is pretty sure to have none but easy gradients, or, at all events, to follow the easiest route in
the district. It is not likely, therefore, that any engineering difficulties of importance will be encountered by the builders of the line. The cost of the line is to be defrayed by the contributions of the faithful, and about £200,000 have already been collected and £600,000 more promised. In view of the fact that Mussulmans from all parts of the world have subscribed money towards it there is no doubt that the line will be at least partly constructed, but many years must elapse before it is completed. The length is about 1,500 kiloms., and the estimated cost not far short of £8,000,000. The contract for the rails for the line has been placed with a Belgian firm, after having been allotted to Messrs. Carnegie and subsequently abandoned by them.
Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway.- The JaffaJerusalem Railway, 87 kiloms. in length, cannot hitherto have been a very profit able undertaking. The capital is £160,000 in shares and £800,000 in 5 per cent. bonds, while the total receipts in 1899 were only £29,428, and for the first eleven months of 1900 they only reached a total of £26,296. A comparison of the first eleven months of the two years show & decline of about £750 in 1900.
The absence of any harbour accommodation at Jaffa hinders the development of the line which is not guaranteed.
The movement for attracting Jews to Palestine may ultimately benefit this enterprise.
Maps and some statistical tables accompany the Report.
The track to be followed by the Bagdad Railway is still under consideration. The original project is north of that which a later survey has preferred. From Adana the line
may be made south of the track indicated, through Yarpouz to Ourfa, and thence south of Mardin through Harran, Raz-ul-Ain, Missi. bin to Moussoul. The way in which this system will ultimately join the North Syria line is consequently still in doubt.
BEER (ARSENIC IN).
The Royal Commission appointed in January, 1901, under the Chairmanship of Lord Kelvin, to inquire into arsenical poisoning in beer and other articles of food and drink, presented a First Report on July 10th. The Commissioners say :-“It is not only essential to prevent gross contamination by arsenic such as occurred in 1900, but also it is desirable and practicable to obviate the excess of arsenio to beer even in minute amounts by way of any of its ingredients, and thus to produce arsenicfree beer.
satisfied from the evidence that since the epidemic precautions in this direction have been very generally adopted by brewers and others. We have evidence that at the present moment analysts are by no means agreed as to the most efficient test to detect minute quantities of arsenic in beer. In view of these circumstances we consider it essential to institute further inquiry before recommending the standard test which should be imposed."
The Report states the Commissioners received no evidence tending to show that articles of food or drink other than beer were concerned in the recent epidemic. In instances which had come before them where arsenic was detected the amounts reported were minute. On consideration of all the circumstances connected with the epidemic the Commissioners think some improvement in administrative measures is called for. Seeing that the epidemic of 1900 was caused solely by beer, and that there exists in the case of breweries (although for another purpose) a system of close inspection by a Government Department, the Board of Inland Revenue, the Commissioners are of opinion that as a provisional measure the machinery under this system might effectively be turned to account to check the introduction of arsenic into beer by way of its ingredients.
Bahr-el-Gebel, Prevention of waste from,
Abyssinian Expedition, 18
relating to, 13
from the, 11
the Mullah, 17
Zanzibar and Pemba, 29
Yeomanry, 130, 135, 136
British Policy, Statement of, 143
submitted by, 151
Telegraph between, 178
Yangtsze Viceroys, Action of, 145