Aragon Valley Classic: Railroad Surveillance Regulation, 1894, Central Catalan Railway Company

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The special affection I have for the railway comes from being a high cost effective mean of transportation also meeting an environmental efficiency and that contributes to the territories balance, even in the most adverse cases [1]. In a word, sustainability.

In addition, the railway sector is one of the main drivers of the safety and health development in the history. The railway industry is pioneer in the modern OSH regulations and inspiring player of the current risk prevention rules all around the world.


The Railroad Surveillance Regulation of 1894 of the Central Catalan Railway Company is an example of this.

The copy fallen into my hands consist of a small 38 pages handbook (aprox. 112×151 millimetres).

It includes the duties and responsibilities of the staff in each one of the districts in which the railroad was divided: railroad guards, laborers and foremen forming a maintenance brigade:

railroads maintenance and inspection with the proper safety measures, authorizations and permits to workwarnings to notice in case of incidence, procedures to follow when carrying out specific works, rules to observe when working on railroads in operation, the use of the facilities for staff installed throughout the railroad, and so on.


In the last page of the handbook there is even a form to probe the delivery of the rule to the recipient worker, as a documentation receipt. The copy I have, was issued to the head of intervention of Martorell, a gentleman named Antonio Farreny.

One curiosity: notice that the delivery date to the worker (may 1893) is just one year before the date of release of the regulation (may 1894). It likely was an oversight, as in the rest of the date there are any other mistakes (“Martorell of may of 1893. Barcelona”)


As with other cases you can read in this same blog – as the collection of OSH posters published in the early 1920s of the National Archive of Catalonia or the advertisements on labor health in the 1920 decade– the Railroad Surveillance Regulation of 1894 of the Central Catalan Railway Company may be nowadays valid -with certain nuances- as safety procedures or instructions in many works.

Apart from this circumstance, I wonder if the application of a regulation like this may have avoided the accident of the Central Aragon Railway in Luco (Teruel, Aragon) in 1904, despite that it had other root causes than the railroad surveillance:

 “Article 17. The foremen must check every day his assigned district or ensure that one of the laborers do, with the aim of knowing the exact conditions of the railroads, slopes and master pieces […]”

“Article 18. In the event of heavy rains, the brigades must not abandon the railroad, in the contrary, they must cover it in order to check that the ballast was not swept along by the water current leaving the risky railroad ties hanged out, or any other hazardous deterioration”

The Railroad Surveillance Regulation of 1894 of the Central Catalan Railway Company shows once again that there is much to learn also from documents and pieces that are nor on the Internet.

[1] ARAGON VALLEY. 5 may 2014.The railway Zaragoza-Pau and the Canfranc International Station. Consulted 11 jul 2014
FERROPEDIA. 15 abr 2013. Compañía del Ferrocarril Central Catalán.ñ%C3%ADa_del_Ferrocarril_Central_Catalán. Consulted 11 jul 2014