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R AIL WAYS, SETTLEMENT, AND COAL. A CH AT WITH MR. PRICE-WILLIAMS.

Thoro is at proßont visiting Wellington Mr. Richard Prico- Williams, M.1.C.E., ono of the foremoat engineering ond railway experts of the day. Mr. Williams' name ia intimately associated with many of the great engineering and railway exploits of the gonorution. He began his oaroer in 1845 as a pupil of George Heald, tbo ominont engineer, who was responsible for the construction of bo many of the great British railways. He eorvod under Robert Stophenson, " went through " locomotivo works at Loods as an apprentice, served as engineer on tho Great Northern and other railways, waß ongaged in coal mining and railway management in Wales, in erecting works and manufacturing liuHsemer stool at Sheffield. It was his adhoaion and his advocacy in the form of a certain famous paper on " Tho maintenance and renowal of permanent way," read before the Institute of Civil Engineers in 18CG, that broke down the opposition of tho groat railway companies to Bteelrailt) and secured the triumph of Bessemer. For this and a subsociaont paper on tho same subject Mr. Williamß secured the Telford and Watt medals and two premiums. In later years ho_ has beon a prominont mombor of tho Council of tho Instituto of Mechanical * ngincors and of the Royal Statistical Sooiofy.and a mombor of various scientific societies. Ho has boon employod to prepare reports on tho coal and iron deposits of India, New South Walos, Tasmania, and New Zealand, and to report on tho oondition of tho Now South Walos railways and rolling stock. He has adjudicated on tho value of tho Tasmnnian main line of railway, and prepared reports relative to an Australian Trans-Continental line. He was employod by the English Royal Commission to enquire into the extent and duration of the coal supplies of the United Kingdom— the result of which was a report that on tbo basis of diminishing ratios as calculated by Mr. Williams, the total quantity of coal availablo (this was in 1871) to a dopth of 4000 ft waa 146,736 millions of tons, which would be exhausted in 3GO years, at the end of which poriod the population of the United Kingdom would be 131J millions. In 1880, before tho Statistical Society, ho read a paper on " Tho Reduction of the Telegraph Tariff," which first submitted a soheme for a sixpenny telegraph rate, subsequently adopted. Ono of his great works was an examination and valuation of the railways and oanals of Ireland with a view to their purchase by the Governmont, and in 1870 he roproaentod tho English railway aompanios in tho sale of the tolograph lines to the Government. Ho his Eaid soven visits to Australia on professional uaineaß, and in 1885 surveyed tho route for the 300 miles of railway lino from Perth to Geraldton, Western Australia. Truly a busy lifo, in whioh these things wero the mileBtonoa ! This by way of preamblo, but it waa the knowledge of it whioh led an Evknino Post representative to seek out Mr. Williamß on his arrival, with a view to elioiting the views of so eminent an expert on various matters of vital intorest to colonists. When our representative discovered the object of bis anest, he found one of the " big little men " who have mode so much history— small of atature, large of brain, with quiok intelleot and ready courtesy — Buoh is Mr. Williams. And he was, moreover, ovidontly familiar with the process of interviewing by many men in many climes and on many subjects, and so he proved a most readily accossiblo and amenable interviewee. RAILWAY aOVBRNBIBNT. First, there was a chat on tho subject of railway government, apropos of our late CoramißßJonors. Mr. Williams thinks highly of tho systom of Commissioners, but it must bo Commissioners untrammolled by political control or by the encouragemont of political agitation against thor n; and Now South Wales ho oonsidors a bright example of what Commissioners can accomplish when aided and not impeded by the Government of tho country. Spaaking of our late Commissioners, Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Williams says, is a man held in very high estimation by railway and engineering experts in the Old Country. Railway management has now developed Into a soionoe, and men like Messrs. Eddy and Spoight have made it a lifo study, and have knowledge whioh laymen oannot expect to have. About 4J years ago, Mr. Williams was asked by the Government to report on the condition of the New South Wales railways. Mr. Eddy had only just taken charge. He was a man who could ill be spared from England, and had come out on the understanding that everything was in apple-pio order. He had been appointed, and the Commissioner systom adopted by Sir Henry Parkes at tho suggestion of Mr. Williams, but when Mr. Williams came to report on the state of things, he found it so shocking that he advised the expenditure of nearly 51,300,000 for tho purchase of new rolling stock, and the putting in order of tho lines. The vote was passed and expended, and during the period whioh has elapsod since, Mr. Eddy and his follow Commissioners have got their lines and rolling-stock into splendid order. Mr. Williams considers that Mr. Maxwell, like Mr. Eddy, is an invaluable man as a Railway Commissioner, and if he in not appreciated by tho Government and people here he is highly appreciated in England, and should ho wish to go thero his abilities wi'l be proporly recognised, for xoally first-rate men are soaroo. Mr. Maxwell b papers at the Institute of Engineers, Mr. Williams says, _ are woll known and appreciated, and he is, in foot, a man who has made his mark amongst the railway experts of the world : and this Mr. Williams says from personal knowledge, as well as from his repute in the Old Country, where ho had formed a very high opinion of our late Commissioner. The result of English experience in the management of great railway systems has been to establish the thesis that they must bo managed by exports. Tho directorate system will pass away, Mr. Williams thinks, as soon as men like Allport are gone, and there will be a great ro-casting of the management of British linos. English rail: way experts are consequently watching' with great interest for a probable solution of the problem of management in the system of triumvirates adopted in Australasia, and many believe that it will be adopted in tho Old Country. The Board of Trade has beon drawing its meshes round the railway systems in the way of lowering freights, and tho time is not far distant when the English railways, Mr. Williams considers, will be administered by the State. Though the rates have been re-modelled, people still believe there must be a further change. If only in the colonies wo are wise enough to keep our Commissioners and our railways clear of politios, Mr. Williams believeß tho Old Country -will imitate, but snoh treatment as that aooorded to Mr. Speight and to our own Commissioners tends to disoredit the system. With the result in Victoria Mr. Williams is muoh disappointed. Politios and political railways killed them there, but he yet believes the Victorians •will have to return to the system of nonpolitical Commissioners and a polioy of non-interference— and the ousting of men who had done snoh good work here waa likewise a blow at the system. <With the ory of "The railways for the /poople!" Mr. Williams thoroughly sympathises. He has always advooated State ownership, but not State management. He thinks the primary object of railways should be to benefit the publio, and not to benofit only a limited number of the community. Mr. Hannay, Mr. Williams has never mot, but he had heard well of him. His ideal of a Railway Commission would be that the Chief should be a railway expert — a man like Mr. Eddy— thoroughly conversant with traffic, for the gentleman named has, in the shor* *'i — -he has been in New South Walos, bo remodelled the system of that colony as to make it equal to anything in tho Old Country, and the admiration of everyone, but there tho Government, instead of encouraging insubordination in tho employe's, or interference by Outsiders has assisted to suppress these things. It is an essential of niooeas, Mr. Williams considers, that the Chief Manager should have entire oontrol of hia officers and of their appointment, promotion, and dismissal. For the logrolling politician, Mr. Williams has nothing but hearty disgust, and he believes that the Government that attempts railway management, or that sets inexperienced laymen to attempt it, rnnst burn its fingers. And there are other essentials to Mr. Williams' ideal Commissioner besidos knowledge of traffic ma'ltors. A Chief Manager, he considers, should have gone through the various grades. He should be an engineer if possible. Mr. Seymour Clarke, the General Manage? of the Great Northern, served his time in the engineering branch, and went from that to the traffio department, and through all tho stages, till bo- was a good all-round man. All general managers cannot do this, but they can get first-rate men under them. OUR RAILWAY BYBTKM. Mr. Williams baa been looking at our rolling stock and permanent way, and with the improvements that the late Commissioners effeoted he ia muoh pleased. But he {s astonished at the want of completeness of the whole railway system, for ho found practioally the same mileage when here eight years ago. exoepting "thia wretched Midland." Thero is still no through communication with Anokland. Why is thore not? he asks. The pressman could give him many reasons, but he gives a few briefly— mainly political. . Mr. Williams however, thinks it folly to leave unoonneoted the railway systems of tho country, and he is just now, too, "a man with a mission," and the name of that mission ia Continuous Railway Construction " on a modified land grant prinoiplo. Light railways as feeders to the main lines. Some leading English financiers, amongst whom ia the leading financial firm of the Jardine Mathosons, have worked out a schemo for railway construction in the colonies which Mr. Williams has been entrusted with, and has submitted in writing to Sir George Dibbs for New South Wales, with whom he is to treat concerning it on his return to Sydney, with a view to its adoption there. He is equally prepared to oonstruot railways on similar terms in New Zealand. Mr. Williams' proposition is something like this— the essential features of the tobeme being that it will not involve either the alienation of Crown land or the expenditure of publio revenue :— Ihe Government is asked to give the land necessary for the oonstruotion of liglit railX^tSSm- c Btandar d gauge- such railways 1111 *," 18 - l 8 P re P« 6 < J to construct for £1600 » mile in open level country (including bridges here and there), and for .£2OOO a mile where clearing has to be done Land contiguous to the proposed railway would be entrusted to these trustees for settlement in 320 acre blocks by soleoted settlors. If the right kind of settlers wero not forthcoming here, Mr Williams says there are plenty of well-to-do yeomen in tho Old Country who wpuld take up land, the rongh work upon which had been done for \*:^ The P l * ll Proposed contemplates 18 settlers to the square mile, ond the holding of the railway by the trust for the first 21 year* after construction ttf reooup tho expenditure, a sinking fund meantime being accumulated for the extinguishment in that time of the oonstruotion oost. In a communication to Sir George Dibbs,

Mr. Williams sots ont his conditions. In addition to tlio free gift or the land required for tlio construction of tlio railway tho Land I'rust would expect tho lcaao for 21 yearn of four 320-ucre blocks from tho Government per inilo of railway. In return it would undertake to construct tho railway, pay interest on tho capital during construction and foe a further term of five rears the estimated time required to develope traffic to the extent of £5 per mile per week, whiob would little more than balance the average coat of working daring that period. During the remainder of tho 21 years it is assumed that the traffic would double itself in a period of about 15 years. With such light railways as proposed, with simple and inexpensive accommodation, tho working expenses would be relatively small, and tho net receipts after deducting tho loss of the first fivo years would during the remainder of tho 21 be sufficient to give a considerable profit on tho capital expended both on tho railway and on the land settlements during the whole term. Eighty acreß of each 320-acro block would be cleared and fonccd, a homestead erected, and water supply constructed, 80 aoreß would bo ripgbarkod(this in Australia), and the remaining ICO left to the settler to clear during his 21 years' tenancy. The cost of all this would he borno by the Trußt, and the moderate rontal to bo charged would, in 21 years, furnish a sinking fund sufficient to pay off tlio capital outlay on each block at the end of tho 21 years, and taxes. Tho Government could make arrangements to oxtinguißh tho titlo of tho Land Trust to the railway at tho end of tho 21 years, or it could remain the property of the Trust, worked as before by tho Government. OUIt COAL MITABUREB. But railways and schemes of settlement aro not tho only specialties by very many of our many-sidod visitor. He is, as we said in our proamblo, a coalownor and coalmining and managing expert in what he calls, by way of distinction from the " New," " Old South Wales." He has written learnedly upon tho coal resources of Britain papers for soicntific societies, and especially a certain pnper on " Tho Coal Question," containing marvellously intricate and convincing tables and diagrams, arguments and disquisitions, all showing that Britain, givon her present I ratio of increase in commerce and population, must conserve its coal or perish. The famous Forfar steam coals of South Wales — the best in Britain, Mr. Williams tolls our representative — are being worked out at the rate of seven aoros a day, and only 42 years' supply roraains. After reading Mr. Williams' writings, and the discussions which took place and are taking place thoreon, it is not surprising to be told by the author that British coal owners are casting longing eyes on Australasia. On his present visit to the colonies Mr. Williams is engaged in disaussing with tho New South Wales colliery, owners the development of thoir properties. A visit paid to Collingwood, on the other aide of Cook Straits, has convinced him that there is somo good coal there, though in a hilltop, of the Bame oharaotor as the New S % outh Wales coal. In New South Wales Mr. Williams has been carrying out a series of tests to ascertain the comparative values of the coals, and he has been shown by Mr. Rotheram, since his arrival in Wellington, tho results of4.be recent tests conducted on tho New Zealand railways. These have inuoh impressed our visitor with the value of tho Westport coals, and this the more so in view of the fact he hud already demonstrated of tho giving out of the English measures. Tho development of the coal resources of Now South Wales and New Zealand, therefore, becomes of Imperial importance. Sir William Thomas Lewis, ono of tho leading coal owners of old Wales, has sent his son out to spy out fresh (coal) Holds, and pastures now— if not green— in the colonies. Our representative mentioned tho feeling in some quarters for tho national ownership and working of the coal measures, and Mr. Vvilliams approvos of that too, with certain lOßtrictions. So far, he thinks, we are not properly developing our coal resources for which thoro will yet bo a big English and foreign demand, and he and his co-owners in the older country aro quite ready with men and money to take in hand the devolopmont for us. This is Mr. Williams' third visit to Wellington, and he finds things very different horo and the town wonderfully advanced as compared with his first call oight yoars ago and his subsequent " look in."

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RAILWAYS, SETTLEMENT, AND COAL. A CHAT WITH MR. PRICE-WILLIAMS., Evening Post, Volume XLVII, Issue 63, 15 March 1894

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RAILWAYS, SETTLEMENT, AND COAL. A CHAT WITH MR. PRICE-WILLIAMS. Evening Post, Volume XLVII, Issue 63, 15 March 1894

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