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Probably during the approaching session the Government, in reply to the hostile criticism which is ; certain to be directed against the management, or rather the mismanagement, of our railways by the Board of Commissioners which they have set up, will lay much stress upon the fact that the lines are earning 3 per cent upon their cost. They will probably also point to 1 those other satisfactory features that the trains are run with a praise-worthy punctuality, and with a wonderful immunity from accident. Yet these last two items only go to show that in those particular respects the Board has been able to do as was done before it came into existence, and as to the first—the amount of nett earnings— this is • largely due to circumstances for-'whjch the Commissioners can claim ;. no" credit whatever. Yet even were it otherwise, the Government will assuredly find themselves vastly niis- . taken-if they think these things will I , be a sufficient answer to the complaints and^ dissatisfaction which are rife " throughout the colony. The present tariff and the present regulations are full of anomalies and absurdities, and fairly bristle with vexatious provisions which absolutely drive business away. For short, distances to termini and .ports of shipment the rates are so high

that. L grain, wool, timber, etc., can be

carried more cheaply by road, and are so ■ carried right along the railway lines. Then again, what could be moi'e ridiculous and oppressive than the regulation under which a farmer must either buy four tons of coal at a time, or if he have it carried by rail must pay ' the freight of four tons for a single iton? Or that, other regulation under which if a truck, capable of holding six or seven head, be hired for the 7 carriage of cattle from one station to another, and only a single beast be put aboard at the station of departure, the hirer may not take aboard another at any intermediate station without paying the full charge of a truck from that station. Here again is a nice state of things as detailed the other day by the member for Christchureh South ■ (Mr - Perceval), in the course of his pre-sessional address to his constituents—we quote from the " Lyttelton Times " report: —" Now as to the Addington sheds, these were erected by private owners at the request of the Government, special inducements being offered by the railway for their construction. These sheds proved in the past of great service to the farmer, as he had the chance of selling locally or shipping, whereas if grain goes to Lyttelton it must be shipped. The Commissioners now.framed their tariff in such a way as to make it impossible to store in Addington. Here were the

charges :—Ashburton to Lyttelton,

direct, 10s sd; Ashburton to Adding- » ton, 8s lOd; Addington to Lyttelton, 4s 3d ; or 13s Id against 10a sd, a

difference of 2s 8d per ton. It might

be thought fair to charge more as the journey had to be broken, but the

loading and unloading at Addington

would-be done by the owners of the store and the pressure at Lyttelton would be reduced, the railway losing nothing, as when the grain was afterwards sent on to Lyttelton they would collect the haulage from Addington to Lyttelton. These stores had a capacity of 20,000 tons, and it was the shutting up of these stores which had inconvenienced the farmer; moreover, the trucks could be distributed from Addington much more expeditiously than from Lyttelton. Now as to the rates on merchandise in Canterbury. The rates between Dunedin and Oamaru, Christchurch and Tiinaru, Lyttelton and Timaru, Christchurch and Lyttelton, and Dunedin and Port Chalmers were as follow :—

; " " '' : jHaul'ge Rate Miles per ton pr mile . - - ___ {Class A 78 21 8 3"33 „ B „ 16 8 2-56 „ C „ 15 0 2-30 „ D „ 11 8 179 {Class A 100 49 4 5-92 „ B „ 41 6 4-98 „ C „ 33 7 403 „ D „ 31 6 3-18 •. - ( Clasß A 106£ 54 4 6-12 Lyttelton I. „. B „ 46 6 523 to Timaru J „ C „ 38 7 4.34 ' . I „ D „ 31 6 3-54 ' '(Class A %\ 5 0 9-23 Christch'rchl „ B ,", 5 0 923 to Lytteltoni „ C „ *5 0 923 1. „ D „ 50. 923 .i •'..': ; ; (Class A 8 4 6 6.75 Dupedintoj „ B „ 4 6 675 Pfc Chalmers! „ C „ 4 6 675 - /;>" I „ D „ 4 6 675

What was the reason of this inequality 1 Why should we pay 5s a ton^for our tea and sugar from Lyttelton,^a distance of six miles and a half, whe?i the Dunedin people got their tea and sugar carried eight miles for 4s 6d-?<; Why should the rates between 'Christchurch and nearly double; per', mile the rate between !Dui\edin arid O&maru ? Which piece of-railwaycbsts:more to work, our flat railway or the Otago. hilly railway 1 This high rate of 5s per ton had to be paid.twice over, by the Christchurch merchant ..whenever he re-shipped. ' The Harbor Board make no charge for wharfage on goods exported which have paid wharfage on importation, and the railway shquld make a eoncessjqn - aJ,SQ> instead of, which they piled on both .ways, an excessive rate, which haXl the effect of preventing Christchurch doing f any coast trade," Well might Mr Percival exclaim " Poor Canterbury! the milch cow once more," and well might he add, as he did, that '*the Railway Commissioners, having rubbed up the employees, rubbed up . the farmers, rubbed up the merchants,- rubbed up the public, must be rubbed out themselves, and give . place to men who will work the railways as a means of developing the industries of the colony, and not as a barrier to settlement and progress." That is what it must come to, and the sooner the better.

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Bibliographic details

RAILWAY MISMANAGEMENT, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2439, 12 June 1890

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RAILWAY MISMANAGEMENT Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2439, 12 June 1890

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