The vast increase which has taken place in railway traffic, has made the
preparation and management of the receipt tickets for passengers an operation of
extreme difficulty. The little stiff ticket with which we have become so
familiar is, apparently, a very simple affair; and so it is in itself, but, in
its official relations, it assumes a grave importance. Not only have the railway
companies to use it as a protection against dishonest passengers, but they have
so to cheque and deliver it, as to defend themselves against loss by fraud on
the part of their money-takers and clerks. These, and many conditions of minor
importance, have been accomplished in a series of dependant apparatus, invented
by Mr. Thomas Edmondson, for the printing, storing and issuing railway tickets,
and which are now in use by thirty of the principal companies in the kingdom. We
have examined the apparatus with much care, as in the present aspect of railway
affairs it may be considered to possess an interest for the whole world: no
pay-office can be well managed without it; and in offices where it is used,
order, economy, and safety prevail. Our cuts exhibit such portions of the
various machines as are necessary for making the following popular description
of the ticket quite intelligible.
The first thing which claims attention, is the manufacture of the ticket itself, which our readers are aware is composed of very strong card-board. This is cut by a machine to the size of 2¼ inches by 1¼, these being the dimensions suited to the printing and succeeding processes. The strength and stiffness of the card is necessary to enable the pay-clerk to push it endwise into the date-printing machine. When a supply of blank tickets has been prepared, the next process is to print them with the name of a station, class of a carriage, the fare, the number, or other regulation marks of the company, which is done by a printing press, constructed in some respects on the principle of those used in the Bank of England for printing the numbers of the notes - the difficulty in both cases being to print a consecutive number from 1 to 10,000, by a self-acting machine. The mechanical arrangements of the ticket press consist in an upright columnar tube, about two feet high, to contain the blank tickets to be printed; a feeding apparatus for drawing each ticket from the bottom of the tube separately, and then passing it under a "form" of type for printing the letter-press matter; two rotary automatic wheels, bearing on their edges the numerals which progressively change a figure after each impression, to form the number which appears on the end of the tickets; a set of ratchet wheels and pulls suitably adjusted for altering the wheels bearing the figures, as the progressive number of the ticket requires; a travelling or "endless" band, previously saturated with ink for the purpose of inking the type and wheels, and a pressure table for giving the impression. The whole of this very beautiful apparatus is worked by a hand-lever, printing at every stroke a ticket bearing a consecutive number, and discharging it in a receiver below. As sufficient supplies of each description of tickets are printed, they are placed under the care of a responsible person, in the drawer of a cabinet divided into stations, and first, second, and third class compartments, to be kept as a stock in readiness to supply the booking clerks with such as may, from time to time, be required. The machine is capable of completing two hundred tickets per minute.
Another small machine is also employed, for the purposes of checking, with greater facility, the consecutive numbers on the tickets, and of counting them, on their being forwarded to the booking clerks. These clerks are debited with every supply of tickets, in a book ruled in proper form; and daily returns of the issues are made by them, and forwarded to the check office, with the tickets that may have been collected from passengers alighting at each of the respective stations; which returns are properly checked off, and accounted for by the clerk appointed for that purpose. Other concise arrangements of accounts are constituted in the system, which are adapted to the passenger department of any railway.
The booking-counter of a station is fitted up with a nest of drawers, divided into compartments, for the purpose of keeping the stock of each description of tickets distinct, and which are properly labelled. In connection with this cabinet, a smaller one, for the retail stock - the tickets actually under issue - stands on the counter, immediately before the booking clerk. This cabinet consists of a series of upright shafts, in which the piles of tickets for the respective stations are placed; at the bottom of each of these shafts an aperture, and a partial opening of the bottom of the shaft is so arranged, that by the application of a finger tip, a single ticket may, at the demand of a traveller, be instantaneously withdrawn. Each of these shafts has an index at bottom, which the clerk raises on first taking a ticket, and leaves it raised, as a notification to the check-clerk that a ticket has been taken from that column, which saves him the trouble of counting the tickets of a column from which none has been sold. In front of the withdrawing apertures of this cabinet, on the edge of the board which forms its base, a slip of slate is fixed, and on this, at the commencement of business in the morning, the clerk writes opposite the shaft from which he for the first time that day withdraws a ticket, the number, in order that the check-clerk, by a comparison of such number with the number of the bottom ticket of the pile remaining unsold, may at once ascertain the quantity of tickets removed, and compare it with the cash received. A further check on all parties is provided in the printing press, to which we alluded above, for printing the date on the tickets as they are issued to passengers.
The apparatus we have described was first perfected on the Manchester and Leeds Railway, and by it, such is the simple, comprehensive, and certain character of its arrangements, that with a single set of the machines, any extent of traffic, or any number of stations on a railway, may be supplied.
from The Illustrated London News, 1845