The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas Et Prevalebit. MONDAY, MARCH 14, 1881. The Mount Somers Railway.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5.15 p.m. ’J
Since the returns of the various railways in this colony were placed before the public, the matter of their respective positions as to re-productiveness has been seriously looked into by many journals, with a veiw of putting the public mind aright. When the Commissioners sent in their report, which was a very exhaustive one, the Tinwald to Mount Somers line was one of those branches which was particularly referred to as to the necessity of its completion in order to make it pay. This report stated “ that the cost would be small, and it will serve a large agricultural district, and at the same time open up a coal-mine and some stone-quarries at Mount Somers, which it may be fairly calculated will bring considerable traffic to the line.” In saying this the Commissioners did not do otherwise than make a plain and simple statement as an inducement for the further extension of the line. It certainly is a fact that as far as the line has been made it is practically uelcsss and unproductive. But why ? Because it runs for 10 miles and 60 chains alongside property owned by two or three persons. When the first question, as to the construction of the line was mooted, it was decided to take it up to Mount Somers on the north side of the Ashburton river, and so pass through a large and comparatively old settled part of the county to that which it now traverses. We are told that some time ago the Canterbury Provincial Council granted rails for its construction, to the value of 1,n,000, and that the line was to be made from the township of Ashburton straight to. Mount Somers and Alford Forest, The County Council in 1877 decided to have the line made from Tinwald, for obvious reasons. It is not difficult to understand the reason the decision was made, but it is not fair that so many of our contemporaries should characterise the line as Mr E. G. Wright’s special line and made to. lead only to his own property. Mr Wright has some portion of his property on the north side of the River Ashburton, as well as near Mount Somers, and the construction of the line, whether from Tinwald or Ashburton, would be of equal benefit to him. We are told that there is something “ particularly crooked ” about this line, and that it has not been struck out of the list of working railways but merged into the Christchurch Section. It would certainly be folly to expect a line of a little more than ten miles to be reproductive, when only two or three loaded trucks are perhaps daily taken up and down it. It has never been worked at all yet, in the proper sense of the word, and therefore no payable return can possibly be expected from the line. We would like to point out that the extension of this line was recommended by the Commission, not to serve the population of 801 souls, alone, but to augment the traffic on the main line. As soon as the extension is carried out, about say x 5 or t 6 miles further, it will show, quite as good a return as other branch, lines, but as it is at present, it will always be worked at a loss. It now remains with the Minister of Public Works to carry out the recommendations of the Railway Commission. When this is done we shall see quite a different return- from this particular branch, and it certainly \Vas a mistake to have this line included in the list of working railways.- We do not, however, agree with some that the line has been put in the
right place, but as io miles have been made, or nearly half of its whole length, its full extension to Mount Somers should not be abandoned. It certainly is refreshing to consider the fact that 120.000 acres of agricultural, and 530.000 of good pastoral land, will be afforded improved means of communication, and that eight hundred and one souls will be placed within easy reach of a railway ; but to be told that the Mount Somers line was made and its extension recommended by the member for Coleridge because it leads to his properly, any more than it leads to the property of the other promoters who were interested in the line at the time the route was fixed upon by the County Council of Ashburton, is absurd.