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The Dunedin City and Suburban Tramway Company’s application to the City Council for permission to use electricity as a motive power on the tramways having been referred to the General Committee, that body instructed the City Surveyor (Mr Mirams) to prepare a report on the whole matter. At last night’s meeting of the City Council this officer reported on the application as follows:

In accordance with instructions received from the General Committee, I have inspected the plans furnished by the Dunedin and Suburban Tramway Company in connection with their application of 24th June for constructing an ovei head electric conductor along the streets of the City. The plans submitted are not working plans of the proposed undertaking, and are only placed before the Council for the purpose of explaining generally the method of the system. The method is known as the “ThomsonHouston Electric Tramway System,” and by its use the cars are propelled by an electiic motor attached to each car connected with a wire and trolly to a continuous wire which runs overhead the whole length of the tramway. An overhead wire is required for each pair of rails, and these two wires are suspended from transverse wirt-s placed at a distance of four chains apart, or twenty to the mile. These transverse wires are supported by poles erected along the kerb line on each side of the street.

By the adoption of this raothed there is no inteiferenco with the tram rails or roadway, so that the concession sought by the company is simply to place the posts along the streets and carry the transverse and longitudinal wires overhead at a height of 20ft or 25ft. It may, I think, bo conceded at the outset that there is an objection to increasing the number of the overhead wires which at present cross the stieets in all directions for telephonic purposes, and a preference would naturally be given to one of tho other electric systems in vogue. The cost, however, of working the cars either with accumulators or with the wires in an underground conduit is said to be so much in excess of the Thomson-Houston overhead system that the Tramway Company have no choice between the present application and the horse-power now in operation. The present telephone wires are suspended at elevations varying from 15ft to 25ft, and although so numerous, are little noticed as an objectionable feature. Tho advantage to the Council in granting the application would be in cleaner streets and more even surface of roadway. Tho experience of the horse traffic shows that the wear and tear on that part of the road surface occupied by the tramway and on the sides of the road arc not uniform; consequently, the maintenance (executed partly by the Corpora tion and partly by the company) is neither uniform in time nor degree. If the motive power were changed, the company might by an annual payment be relieved of their obligation to maintain the agreed width, except so far as th( ir running roads were concerned. From the papers forwarded I find that this electric system has apparently pasted beyond the first stage of experiment and is now in daily use in at least fifteen cities in America, with a length of rail of seventy-five miles, and that similar roads are in course of construction in several other cities. In March of this year the city of Boston was seeking permission from the Legislature to construct in their streets 200 mi’es of tramway with this overhead electric system, and the * Electrician ' of May 3 last reports that the works are being carried oat by the Thomson-Houston Company. At the discussion before tho Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature evidence was given “ as to the general success of the overhead system, and as to the fact that the potential of 500 volts, used so universally on that class of work, is not at all one dangerous to life." The Tramway Company propose to use here a potential of only 300 volts, so that any risk of danger will be still further reduced ; on the other hand, they will require some auxiliary wires carried on the telegraph posts down certain side streets in order to act as feeders to the main current.

From my investigations so far I am able to report that, in my opinion, the application from the company is entitled to the very favorable consid station of the Council, and on the following grounds;— 1. The method is largely adopted elsewhere.

2, It can apparently be worked with safety to tbe public. 3. The posts and wires will not, I apprehend, be more objectionable than the telegraph posts ai d wires now in use,

4. The cost of construction Id within the resources of the Tramway Company. 5. The traffic in the ttrcets will be cleaner, smoother, and a general advance upon bone power, 6. The maintenance of the streets will be less and the surface kept in bettor order. It may, however, well be assumed that in a few years further improvements will be made in electricity as a motive power, and that the system of accumulators— which I take to be the best yet introduced - will be made more universally available. It is open to question whether the concession, if granted, should be for the whole term of the present lease, terminating in 1912, or for a shorter period. Further, it will be advisable to determine if the Order-in Council under which the tramways are laid includes the use of electricity as a motive power. 1 understand that the company are prepared to submit for approval all working and detail plans and specifications before any contracts for construction are entered into.

The Mayor ; I move that this report bo referred to the General Committee for further consideration. Cr Sinclair : I second the motion, I think the Council should hold a special meeting to consider the matter; it is of great importance. The motion was carried unanimously.

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Bibliographic details

ELECTRIC TRAMWAYS., Issue 7956, 11 July 1889

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ELECTRIC TRAMWAYS. Issue 7956, 11 July 1889

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