Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit FRIDAY, MAY 12, 1905. COLONIAL PUBLIC WORKS.
The Hon W. Hall-Jones when interviewed at Auckland on Wednesday, stated that the length of the present gap m the North Island Main Trunk railway was forty miles and he hoped to cover this distance m three years, provided, of course, that he obtained from Parliament the increased vote tor which ho intended to ask. The Minister for Public Works told his interviewer that m hia opinion the time had come when the order should be " full steam ahead." The colony as a whole, but especially the North Island, will hail with satisfaction this announcement of the policy which the Minister intends to pursue if he succeeds m obtaining thß sanction of Parliament. The Main Trunk line has been progressing slowly and not too surely for a number of years now, and m view of the advantages that would be conferred on the northern half of the colony and indirectly on the southern half also, the sooner the line is completed the better. At present Auckland is practically isolated from direct communication by land with the rest of New Zealand, that town having to be reached from the south by sea. The large centres of the South Island are very advantageously situated m this respect, being, as they are, connected with one another by railway. The benefits which are reaped by these centres from the existence of direct land communication with one another are of immense value both to them and to the towns situated alongj the routs which the railway follows. Aa an aid to increasing trade and population direot through communication between Auckland and Wellington would be of inestimable service, and the stimulus it would confer on agriculture would also be of substantial value. The country which has been reached by the line now is of a rough and rugged character, and even though the work of construction i 3 pushed, on with " full steam ahead," the difficulties that have to be contended with will reduce the pace at which the line can advance, and if the distance of forty miles that still remains to be constructed is completed within three years, the Public Works Department will have accomplished a feat to be j)roud of, However, the obstacles that lie m the way of the completion of the line make it all the more necessary that the work should be tackled m a determined manner, and m the interests not only of the northern portion of New Zealand, but of the colony as a whole, it is to be hoped that the Government will place a substantial vote on the estimates for this line every year until it is completed. Another public work whose early completion is urgently demanded, is the Midland Kailway, to be known m future as the East and West Coast railway. As has been pointed out repeatedly by the Press of Otago and Canterbury, the thousands that have been spent on this line will remain wasted until the whole work reaches completion. Most railwaya pay even when constructed m sections, as each section can be put into use as soon as it is constructed and thus returns interest on its cost. But with the East and West Coast railway the situation is different, for until the Hue is completed from coast to coast, its revenue earning capacity is practically nil. In the meantime the line is either rotting away or piling up a big bill for maintenance and j thus adding rapidly to its ultimate total cost. When the two coasts are once linked together, a pretty substantial revenue can be relied on from passenger and goods traffic. The West Coast produces gold, timber, and agricultural and pastoral products, and with these resources to draw on the Ea3t and West Coast railway would have a good basis to start on for earning revenue. The Premier has already said the line ia to be completed m five years. At that rate an annual expenditure of .£200,000 will be required, which is five times the amount, that has been voted during.the past few years. The longer the completion of the line is postponed, the greater the ultimate cost will be made. From a business point of view the Government must procoed with the completion of this line as quickly as possible, and if this important work is not finished well within the next decade Canterbury and Westland and the South laland as a whole will have just cause to complain of the treatment meted out to them.