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There can be no doubt whatever that Vaile possesses m a very high degree the quality of earnestness, which is the first requisite to success, and he pushes on his crusade for railway reform with a patient insistance, with an indomitable persistency which demonstrate very J clearly that he thoroughly believes m his own proposals. He has forwarded to us a copy of another letter on the subject, m which he argues that the adoption of his system would do a great deal towards promoting the settlement of country lands, and invites " careful attention to the following statement of facts : — A farm of 300 acres, half m crop and half m grass, would, m manures and other things taken to the farm, and m crops, dairy produce, and live stock taken off it, require to transport at least 175 tons per annum. MrMaxwell, m his report to the House, states that the average distance goods are transported m New Zealand is 25 miles, and the average charge paid is 6s lOd per ton, consequently he says the average charge per mile is a small fraction over 3£d. This is the result showing the annual transit charges such a tarm would have to pay if placed at the following dig tances from the market ; — Miles 7 £16 11s lid 14 £33 3s lOd 21 £49 15s 9d 80 £71 2b 6d 80 . £189 18a 4d 130 £308 43 2a A glance at the above figures will show how utterly impossible it is for the men at 80 and 130 miles distances to compete with those at 7 and 14 miles. No difference m the price of land could make up for the extra transit charge. This it is that has taken the value out of country lands, for land has no value unless it can be occupied and profitably worked . Under the proposed new system tho charges for the same service would be as follows : — Miles. 7 £10 18i 9d 14 . £21 17s 6d 21 £32 169 3d 30 £43 15a Od 80 £53 4a 7d 130 £65 12a Od It will be seen that while under this system the long distance rates are enormously reduced a just relative value between long and short distances is carefully pregeryed," ,

Commenting upon the 'forego' ng Mr 1 Vaile goes on to say :— " I shall be told that the difference between £65 and £308 is so great that the couutry could never stand the loss. My reply is that the £308 is tho price demanded from the unfortunate settler, but never obtained, because no man could possibly pay it, and we hare here the secret why our trains run empty and the country ' remains unoccupied. The £65 could and would be paid, because the difference m the price of land would compensate the owner, and our railways would earn something where now they earn nothing, and are simply a useless burden. We have lately heard a great deal about the fall m value of the Bank of New Zealand securities. It is very possible that the affairs of this institu tiou have not been managed with the en re and caution that should have boon exorcised, but I am* very certain that its difficulties are more largely due to the maladministration of our railways than to any acts of its past and present directors : for if our railways had been so managed as to promote settlement on the land, the value would not have gone out of their securities — m fact, very few of them would have fallen into their | hands — and thousands of our fellowi citizens who have been reduced to j poverty, or the verge of it, would now be happy and prosperous men. i The great blot m our commercial system is the fact that we have no internal trade. New Zealand has been colonised for half a century, and yet we have not a single inland town worthy of the namo. We have merely a fringe of population on the sea coast. So long as this state of things exists, so long we must suffer. It is to the assistance and development of our country districts that we must look for relief, but, instead of this we seem determined to. bring a still greater pressure to bear upon them." All this is very true, and if Mr Vaile is right m his assumption that the railways could be made to yield better financial results by the adoption of his system, then, undoubtedly, the colony would gain enormously by the change ; nay if even the financial results were only equal to those at present obtained the indirect advantages would be immense. But there are large numbers of people, including nearly all our railway experts, who maintain that the colony is too sparsely settled to enable this result, and that to adopt Mr Vaile's system would mean to create a huge railway deficit. The only test as to who is right is the test of experience, and we cannot help thiuking that it would be worth while to give Mr Vaile's plan a trial, not over the whole system of railways m the colony, but on one or more lines so as to set at rest the question of its feasibility or otherwise.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1982, 29 October 1888

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Ashburton Guardian Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1982, 29 October 1888