Well known-expected at home- travelling first class for a mere step of a journey, on a line where stations occur every mile or so, and fringed with houses-if we can be murdered thus, we may be slain in our pew at church, or assassinated at our dinner table.
There is one general feeling which this dark crime has excited among the population; there must be an end put to the absolute imprisonment, be it for a brief or long period which railway travellers endure. This is what everybody utters as he criticises the murder, and the force of it is not at all affected by speculating whether the deceased could or could not have availed himself of communication with the guard.
Communication there must be between passengers and those who control the train and have charge of it, for not only this shocking crime, but incidents of similar, though less horrible character, are filling our columns daily, as there is scarcely an issue which does not contain the account of some outrage attempted against a woman in that solitude of the railway-carriage which the utter helplessness of the victim and her isolation makes more complete than the lonely road or the dark street. In either of these her cries might be heard, a rescuer might appear, but in the tearing, rattling railway car she is utterly without hope, unless she braves death, as the heroine of such a tale lately did. The public, therefore, insists upon this problem being solved at last, and not deferred until the next railway murder or railway outrage. To make the first absolutely impossible seems hopeless, after the experience of this inexplicable crime.
But even here, if the hapless victim could have pulled a bell, or touched a spring, or by any other means made signals to the guard- or if the guard, as on French and Belgian railways, had been able to pass up and down the train, and had chanced to look in upon the bloody deed–the murderer at least could not have escaped.
Undoubtedly the best security would be found in carriages built like those in America or Switzerland; but it is too much to ask that all the rolling stock should be altered. Nevertheless, a plan must be found and carried out; for the public will no longer endure to be caged up with a murderer or maniac inside a carriage, with the chance of death upon the swift-flying rail outside. Regarding the minor outrages to which we have alluded, the remedy is easy, and must be adopted without delay, or the companies will be held partly responsible for the future cases of insult. There should be to all trains a carriage or compartment for women in the second and third classes as well as the first, and these should be religiously kept for them. A poor girl has as much right to this security as a duchess in the coupé marked “for ladies only”; and sure we are that it would be gladly used by many a trembling maid-servant and shy country lass, whom we now compel to herd with coarse and drunken ruffians. This boon is easy and earnestly called for; while our immediate business is to detect and punish the murderer, it also behoves us to see that, in future, our railway carriages shall not offer facilities for crime—shall not any longer be the safe and easy work-shops of the criminal.« Return to Victorian Railways
Look at source 9
Extract from the Daily Telegraph, July 13th 1864.
- What has been the impact of the crime on the public according to The Daily Telegraph?
- What three suggestions does the extract make about improving safety for passengers using the railways?
- How would you describe the tone/attitude of this article?