THE MIDLAND RAILWAY.
The position of matters m connection with the Midland Railway is exceedihgly unsatisfactory. It was hoped that after the protracted negotiations which had, taken place, and the many and vexations delays which had occurred, the new contract" as setLk-1 under the Act passed in\ December, 1887, would have been the signal for an active and vigorous prosecution of the work. Nearly a year ago we were told that the Company was B»nguine of speedily effecting the necessary financial arrangements, and that this done the railway works would be speedily pushed on, bat later came news that the money was not forthcoming just yet, and that a more favorable market was being waited for, and now comes the information that the contractors' have received advices directing them to suspend operations. " Apparently (says the "New Zealand Times") work is to be practically gug. pended for an indefinite period— until, m fact, the Company shall be able to raise the necessary amount of capital m LondoD." The action taken isy it is true, that of the contractors, but the fact that they are disbanding' their staff m consequence of their English advices is pretty plain proof that they are satisfied that the Company 19 at a deadlook," "Onlookers (writes the "Post") see most of the game, and if the contractors are convinced of the futility of the Company's expectations, they would of course proceed at once to stop their own expenditure m preparing for" large works which are not likely to be carried out It has, we believe, been quite understood m financial circles at Home, for some time past, that there is extremely little probability of the Company being able to finance m the manner required to enable it to carry out its contract as it at present stands." The last five words of the foregoing quotation throw/ a light on the cause of the difficulty, the fact being that it has been discovered that the Nelson-Beilgrove section, which was dovetailed info the scheme under the pressure of political exigencies, will be such an enormously expensive piece of work, and the probable traffic is so small that it is sinking the whole business. The "Post* thinks, that if the Company were relieved of its obligation to carry out this part of the contract, it is possible that it might raise means to carry out the other sections, and goes on to Bay, "We fully expect that a strong appeal will be made to Parliament to strike the Nelson line ont of the conditions* This appeal will naturally be supported by the Can* terbury and Westland members, whose only interest is to have railway communication established between the East and West Coasts. They will say to Nelson, ' Well, we were willing to help you if we could, but we find we cannot. Your line is practically impossible,' but ours is possible, and, of course, we cannot sacrifice it out of sympathy for you/ Whether, under these circumstances, Nelson will be magnanimous, and disdain to act the part of a dog m the manger, we cannot venture to guess. It will no doubt, m any event, be a terrible disappointment to Nelson. The question which Parliament will have to decide is whether it will: so modify the conditions as to relieve the Company from the construction of the Nelson branch, and be content with a purely East to West Coast line. This will be a very difficult question indeed to decide. Many considerations will have to be taken into account. Practically a new contract would have to be made, for it would never suit the colony to simply strike out the Nelson line and leave all the other conditions as they are. That would be altogether too good a thing for the Company. If the Nelson line is abandoned, the cost to the colony of the Eaßt and West Coast line must not be increased. That must be % sine qua non m any fresh negotiations. As we have on many occasions said, if the construction of the railway to connect the two coasts of the Middle Island can be paid for out of the land through which it will pass, by all means let us have it. The land is worthless unless it is opened up, and, except by • railway, it can never be opened for settlement. But the land must pay for the railway. The colony would be mad to undertake any < external liability on account of this railway, and we trust Parliament will remain absolutely firm on this point. The promoters of the scheme must be held to their oft-repeated assertions that the land represents aa ample" equivalent for the cost of construction. If it does not, then the line must not be mado. As for the Nelson branch, we cannot regret its nonconstruction on any terms, because, even if made, it would be a regular white elephant, a constant monument of reproach to the colony, and an everlasting source of expense." In the main we concur " with oar Wellington contemporary^ and we may add the expression of a hope that if tha terms of the contract are again revised, care will be taken this time to include & clause binding the Company to complete the railway within a specified period, or to forfeit penalties for over time, a> provision common to nearly all contracts^ but singular to say conspicuous by its absenoe from that of the Midland Railway Company.
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