THE RAILWAY RETURNS.
The announcement made in another column that the gross receipts of the railways for the year ended 31st March last reached the sum of £1,092,000, and that after deducting working expenses there will be a balance of £400,000 to the good is, so far as it goes, satisfactory. It is pointed out that the nett earnings are equal to 3 per cent on the capital cost, a result which has only once before been reached, and that when the mileage of working railways was very much smaller than at present, and also, if we mistake not, before the district railways had been taken over by the Government. That being so, a return of 3 per cent now over all, branch railways included, is better than the 3 per cent obtained upon the smaller mileage of main lines only, and the fact is now demonstrated that, if only we could obtain money from English investoi'S at 3 per cent, as we ought to be able to do now if the value of the sec^ity we offer were fairly appraised, and as we shall certainly be able to do ere long, the railway system of the colony would not cost the taxpayers a penny. In view of the near approach of so happy a state of things, to be followed inevitably with the growth of the colony by a surplus of - railway receipts in aid of ordinary revenue, it would be pure madness to entertain for a^nome'nt the idea—favored we are sorry: to see by Mr Lance among otliers^-of selling the lines to private companies. Pleasing, however, as the balance-sheet for the year undoubtedly is, we decline to accept it as proof that the present system of management is the best possible, or that the Commissioners have achieved all that could have been achieved. No inconsiderable share of the earnings of the lines, especially of the main trunk of this Island during the past few months has been due, not to the prescience and business management of Messrs Maxwell and Co., but to the insistance of the press and the public generally upon the adoption of a policy of reasonable fares calculated to develope traffic,and which was, all tod tardily, at last' adopted. Were the same policy which has latterly obtained in_ connection with the passenger traffic to and from the Dunedin Exhibition to become the rule, and not the exception, we should see results which would surprise the Commissioners, though not the general public, which has all along insisted that with lower fares three half-crowns could and would be earned where now a single crown finds its way into the railway coffers. The same principle of cheapness with resultant large returns could be carried out in connection with freight as well as in connection with the passenger traffic to the great benefit of the colony in every respect. It would give an impetus to settlement and to the cultivation of the soil, would render the business of our towns more prosperous and profitable, and insure the steady growth of the railway revenue. Whether the Commissioners are able to open their eyes to this fact, and are prepared to adopt a wisely liberal policy, remains to be seen, but we fear that they are of those who " convinced against their will" cling obstinately to preconceived opinions and will not budge an inch farther than they can help. If this prove to be the case, then the mere fact that there is a balance to the good for last year equal to 3 per cent should not prevent an insistance upon a policy which would assuredly work out still better results; on the contrary what has been achieved should go far to convince the people and their representatives in Parliament that in railway matters we have hitherto being going entirely on the wrong track, and that the sooner we shunt the Commissioners into a siding and run our trains on the main- road of common sense the better
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THE RAILWAY RETURNS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2397, 10 April 1890
THE RAILWAY RETURNS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2397, 10 April 1890
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