Railway Clearing House

Railway Clearing House

The British Railway Clearing House (RCH) was an organisation set up to manage the allocation of revenue collected by numerous pre-grouping railway companies. These companies all operated their own railway lines, but gained revenue from fares charged for passengers and goods travelling over the lines of more than one company.


The Railway Clearing House commenced operations on 2 January, 1842, in small offices at 11 Drummond Street opposite Euston station, London. These were premises owned by the London and Birmingham Railway, which also provided the initial costs of setting up the organisation.

The founding members, whose first meeting was on 26 April, 1842, were:
* London and Birmingham Railway
* the companies which would form the Midland Railway in 1844
** Midland Counties Railway
** Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway
** North Midland Railway
* Manchester and Leeds Railway
* the companies which would form the North Eastern Railway in 1854
** Leeds and Selby Railway
** Hull and Selby Railway
** York and North Midland Railway
** Great North of England Railway

This first meeting agreed the principles by which the ongoing activities of the RCH were to be funded. This involved a fixed payment per station served (£5, reduced in 1844 to £2 for stations which were not termini) plus an apportionment of the balance of costs according to the total share of receipts afforded to each participating company.

By the end of December 1845, the following companies had joined:
* Birmingham and Gloucester Railway
* Chester and Birmingham Railway
* Grand Junction Railway and its allies
** North Union Railway
** Liverpool and Manchester Railway
* Lancaster and Preston Railway (a bitter rival of the North Union)
* Manchester and Birmingham Railway
* Newcastle and Carlisle Railway

Owing to expansion the RCH moved to larger purpose-built premises in Seymour Street (now called Eversholt Street) in early 1849, which remained its headquarters for the duration of its existence. By the end of 1850 a further 21 companies had joined, including several of the leading Scottish companies, bringing the total of British railway mileage in the scheme to over half (55.8%). However it still lacked the Great Western Railway and the companies south of London.

In due course the RCH was regulated by the The Railway Clearing Act of 25 June, 1850. Though initiated by the members companies themselves, the Bill in fact reduced the scope of the RCH, while making it easier to enforce debt collection among members (hitherto not formally regulated). A later attempt via Parliament to re-extend the powers and potential membership of the RCH foundered on conflicting interests in 1859.


On 22 September, 1847, the Railway Clearing House recommended that Greenwich Mean Time be adopted as the standard time for all railways in the United Kingdom. [cite web| url=http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/d.html| title=Daylight Saving Time - Standard time began with the railroads| accessyear=2005| accessmonthday=September 22| ]

The Railway Clearing House also went on to set technical standards for various items, such as goods wagons, to promote standardisation across the rail network. If a wagon was described as an RCH wagon, this meant it had been built to comply with RCH standards.

The RCH also set technical standards for cable connections between coaches for the operation of train lighting and push-pull trains. These cables were known as RCH jumpers.

The RCH also produced Diagrams of the junctions for driver training.

The RCH had some similarities to the modern Association of Train Operating Companies.


* Bagwell, P (1968), The Railway Clearing House in the British Economy, 1842-1922, George Allen & Unwin, London
* See also external links

External links

* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45241&strquery=%22euston%20grove%22 British History Online]
* [http://www.railscot.co.uk/Great_North_of_England_Railway/frame.htm Great North of England Railway]

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