In bringing to your notice the subject of Atmospheric Railways, I hope it may not be thought that I endeavour to introduce to you a chimerical speculation; for whatever may be the ultimate success of the promoters of the Atmospheric System, there is now little doubt that it is to a great extent practicable; and that if, in the infancy of railways, before the locomotive engine had been perfected as it is at present, the introduction of Atmospheric Railways would have been considered a great benefit to the community,—even at present we have the unequivocal evidence of the most eminent railway engineers, that the Atmospheric Railway is a great triumph to mechanism, the only doubt being whether it can be worked with practical advantage in a commercial point of view.
We have also admissions by many engineers who are most strenuously opposed to the general introduction of the Atmospheric System, that there may be peculiar circumstances under which such system may be advantageously applied.
I will endeavour to state the subject on the broad principle that all human means of applying mechanical power are imperfect; that power cannot be transmitted without loss; and that with regard to locomotion on railways, the best method of investigation is to consider the various proposed systems seriatim, and to endeavour to investigate the loss of power to which each is subject.
I cannot, however, presume to bring any investigations before you in any other than a very imperfect state, nor have I had ...
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