THE OTAGO CENTRAL RAILWAY.
The history of the Otago Central Bailway iB a long series of blunders, misad ventures and fiascos, originating m a proposal about the year 1876 to penetrate the dividing range, and connect Oamaru and Naseby by rail, so as to give an outlet to the coast by the nearest route for the produce of the interior. This sensible and comparatively inexpensive scheme was set aside through the selfish intrigue of Dunedin m favor of the long and costly route up the Strath Taieri. The latter having been adopted, the work of construction has dragged its slow course along during a period of some eleven years, and over half a million of money has been spent without any valuable result whatever. The point reached by the enormous outlay is a considerable distance further from the open lands of the interior than would have been reached had the Oamaru-Naseby route been adopted, while the half million thus uselessly spent on the latter route would have completed the railway, -not only to Eweburn but all the way to Cromwell, to reach which by the line now m hand will involve the outlay of half a million more, In a word then the opening up of the interior by a line from Dunedin proveß after eleven years of slowly constructed works to be quite beyond the present means of the colony, but unless, it be carried further than Middlemaroh, tho point at present reached, there are only two alternatives viz., either to let half a million pounds worth of railway go to rack and ruin, or to work the mileage it represents at a large loss. To get over the difficulty, Mr Pyke last year proposed the carrying on of the line to Cromwell by private enterprise, the cost to be repaid by land grants as m the cage of the Mjdland Bajlway, That scheme was supported hy the Canterbury members, but was defeated by stonewalling tactics, m the carrying out of whioh Mr Fish and other Otago members took a prominent part. During the recess, the Premier and other members of the Government visited the interior of Otago, and this session the Government introduced a Bill authorising the carrying on of the line to Eweburn at the cos.t of some £2QOJOQO, the money to be advanced from the Trust Funds and repaid by annual instalments of £15,000 out of the rents of Otago runs. That scheme per se appeared at first blush a fair solution af the difficulty, and as such received the approval of Mr Ballanoe and Dtheru, but subsequently it appeared that the Otago lino w«b only a part of a large scheme for the construction of public works, some of them, as for instance the Puhipuhi tramway, of an exceedingly doubtful character, and the result as uiight have been expected, has been that the House has declined by a sweeping majority to agree to Ministers' proposals. Once inorPj then, the Otago Central Railway hasheen relegated to the slough of despond m which it has so long been plunged, and there appears at present no prospect of any satisfactory plan being developed for its completion.
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