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LIGHT RAILWAY PROJECT

I LINE JO THE WEST COAST o O o I TERMINALS AT TWO HARBOURS o O * o —— I PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS

The* light railway question has again been brought into public focus by the proclamation of. the Waikato-West Coast railway district. Some people are of the opinion that the proclamation means nothing more than giving power for tl, o election of a board . and the striking of a rate to cover the expenditure the provisional board has incurred. In support of this the following telegram from the Hon. J. G. Coates, Minister for Gublic Works, sent in reply to questions, is quoted : "The position « that the promoters have not brought forward satisfactory information as to the financial success of the proposition. District, has been constituted on distinct understanding that it is not to be held to commit Government to authorise con-

struction of railway." The promoters of the scheme explain that flic telegram exactly states the position. " A proclamation is never an authorisation," said one of them. " We know very wall that the Government will nob an- . thorn* a work of the kind until sufficient; evidence is produced to indicate that it will . pay its way. Naturally the pro- ! visional board, working on a ' joint and ! several,' could not carry out complete sur veys and make complete investigations i and it would not have been desirable for ' it to have attempted to do so. The board has, however, investigated the position to the necessary extent to satisfy themselves of the practicability of constructing readily and economically, a railway of a suitable grade. The prospective ratepayers or rather the settlers 'who would place the guarantee of a rate ' behind the scheme, are the people to say 1 whether the authorisation is to bo sought. < The one purpose of the preliminary work of the provisional board was to give the \ settlers power to continue the investigations, particularly as to prospective freight's and advantages 'to themselves !a»d the district, and, if they desired to ;c¥ci so, adopt the scheme, and ask for : authority to proceed with it." ' m ' ' Decision.

The position is, therefore, that if the : elected 'board' after fully investigating the poirit/ori satisfies the' Government that the proposed railway is a. sound financial ana i practicable proposition then authority for I ruction of the. railway will" be granted. After this the matter of , proceeding with the ' v construction? rests 'with the settlers and-? the aboard. It seems, therefore that the ratepayers are adequately protected, and that light railway scheiues will require to be thoroughly con•sijenid' and their possibilities 'fully invesfcijgited. before they could- pass- the critioal ! inspection-of not only ; the ratepayers, out also \tfee Government before any actual constitution could take place. It is explained that the whole work need not be attaokis'l at once. The railway could bo constructed in sections.

In regard to rating, which the promoters' "believe will .not pass the stage of a guarantiee, th e Local Railways' Act permits of a graduated scale according to a classification made by the elected board. For the purposes of such classification the board may from time to time examine and classify all rateable property within the proclaimed Railway District area into the following classes: — (a). Lamds receiving or likely to receive immediate and direct benefit from the railiway* ' ' (b). Lands receiving or likely to receive less direct lienefit therefrom. (c). Lands receiving or likely Co receive only an indirect benefit therefrom; and (d). 'All other lands. Any person who thinks himself aggrieved by such classification may appeal against game. Adequate machinery is provided by tho law to hare such appeals considered by a magistrate.' The. classification list may from time to time lie amended by the board. Importance to Hamilton. Thefollowing semi-official statement has been issued by tho provisional board — "Not only is the proclamation of the Waikato-WeSt Coast "railway district of paramount importance to Hamilton and ! the district affected, "out also to the whole I country, as this is the first district! created under the 1920 amendment of the Local Railways Act with the direct ob- ! jective of constructing railways of a gauge and standard very much different from the hard-and-fast super standards set down by the Railway Department, and, incidentally, very much more suited to the purposes and uses to which they will have to be put. Judging from the periodical returns of the Railway Department, it appears to be only of comparatively recent years that branch lines to tho main line railways and" isolated lines have been regarded from the point of view of the potential ability of the dis-tricts-concerned to make them pay. "To meet, the growing demand from various parts of the country for branch lines, the Government enacted in 1914 the Local Railways Act, providing machinery for districts agitating for oranch railways to be created into railway districts, with the object of such districts financing, constructing, and operating their own railways. These railways had to be constructed to conform with the standards of the Railway Department. Herein lay (lie stumbling block. Several districts have been investigated or treated with a view to constructing bran, h lailways, but after the expenditure of a considerable amount of money and time, it has been found that as business propositions such railways ro;ild not possibly hope to pay their wav for a great many yea is, if ever. C'"risf*quentlv. the < iovemmeiu has had lo refuse permission to construct these lines. "Wliile at the war some of our New Zealand engineers had a great deal to do with the military light railways of the

Western front, and with their considerable experience realised that something kindred was the solution of the branch line problem for New Zealand. On their return, some of these gentlemen and Captain H. D. Dansey, M.C., took much trouble to put their views before the public, 'Ihe Waikato is proud of the fact that it was quick to appreciate the importance of the convictions of these gentlemen, and the amendment to the Local Railways Act was the outcome of a deputation represented by delegates from Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, Raglan, Kawhia, Morrinsville. Waitoa, Matamata, Kaitaia, and Nelson. " The outstanding features of the propfosed light railway as compared with the standard railways are as follows: Uuage, 2ft 6in, as compared to 3ft 6in; rails, 28!b per lineal yard, as compared with 561b; limiting radius of curves, 2£ chains radius, -as compared with 7£ chains radius; limiting gradients, 1 in 33, as compared with 1 in 50; minimum paying train load, 40 tons, compared with 80 tons; ' cost of construction in average undulating country, about £4000 per mile, as against £8500. The light railway has only one disadvantage — transhipment, which, if handled with modern appliances, is but a small matter. The advantages mentioned above are of .paramount importance, and require little elucidation, besides which there are the following additional advantages:— 1. Practically anything carried by the standard gauge can be carried by the light railway, such as stock, timber, passengers, coal, etc. 2. The heavy loads will all be taken off tile roads, and road metal for construction and repairs, can be distributed at many points in the district much cheaper than at present. This, of course, means much improved roads. 3. Branch linns are well within the financial reach of individual- runholders or groups of farmers. 4. *"he lines can bo So located that if. in the future, the volume of traffic warrants a standard railway, then such can replace the light line with the .minimum amount of new construction. "The" net result of all these advantages is that a district will bo able to have a thoroughly efficient railway service that will be a paying proposition right from the start. The Hamilton-llaglan-Kawhia scheme has already had! much survey work done on it. The route taken is as follows-From Frankton Junction to Whatawhata, thence to -Karamu, thence up the KaniwhaniwiiaSStream and through a short tunnel to Cooper's Flat at Moerangi, thence the line bifurcates ona branch going via Waitetuna, Te Uku, Okete to Raglan; and'the; other via the Moerangi Block, through ' another short tunnel to the Oparau Valley, and thence along the shores of Kawhia Harbour to .Kawhia. * Fertile country, more or less undulating, is traversed throughout, and the area still under bush is considerable. Branch lines ; will be put in to tap the new coal mine at Whatawhata, the extensive and ■ rich limestone deposits in. the Upper Kaniwhaniwha. the:; timber-milling area of the Moerangi Block, and to several first-class road i metaL deposits. ' These sources of traffic are of the greatest importance to the railway. It is stated that a mining company,.which ,is about to open a field at 3 Whatawhata, will guarantee to the Railway Board the transport of 25,000 tons of coal per annum. The various distances will be: Frankton to Moe'rangi, 19 miles; Frankton to -Raglan, o3 ! miles; Frankton to.Kawhia, 43 miles.

Further Investigations. " The survey of the Frankton to Raglan section has been fairly thorough, and in future vears there will be comparatively little" trouble in converting the line to a standard line. From Moerangi to Kawhia a great deal of work lias yet to be clone before the final position of the line can be located, the engineers merely having done sufficient survey to satisfy themselves of the feasibility and the probable cost. As 14 miles of this latter section are through the virgin forests of the Moerangi block, the difficulty in locating the final position of the lino can be readily imagined. The election of the members of the newly-constituted Railway Board will shortly be held, and it will be for them to complete the necessary . survey work and data, obtain the sanction of the Government, and place a proposal for a loan before the ratepayers. There can be no question that the construction of the proposed railway lines ■will give & great impetus to the development of the farming, timber, and lime industries of the Western Waikato and the opening up of the two promising sea ports and tourist resorts of Kawhia and Raglan, is an object well worthy, in itself of the construction of the railway. " The ' engineers ' advocating the light railway system do not claim to be introducing anything new. Light, railways or industrial "railways as they are called in some countries, have been one of the prime factors in development, and arc still extensively used in England, France, Belgium, Africa, India. Chile, Tasmania, and in many parts of America. In the many private* timber railways which penetrate the heart of New Zealand we have splendid examples, right at our back door, of how the light railway has provided a thoroughly efficient means, whereby our vast milling areas have been opened up for commercial purposes." Engineer's Review. Discussing the merits of light railways generally some time ago, Captain Dansey remarked: "The principal opponents to the construction of these narrow gauge lines are raihvaymen who have had little or no experience in working them, and who make a bogey of the break of gauge. No railway manager would, of choice, agree to a break" of gauge, but under certain conditions it becomes a necessity —such a condition, for instance, as where the construction, of a broad gauge railway would be an impossibility on account of I the cost, when, in fact, it becomes a | question of a narrow gauge railway or no i railway. T think the time is close at I hand when we shall see country hitherto i unoccupied in many parts of Australia J and New Zealand opened up by narrow i gauge railways. The people cannot afford ] to throw away as thev have done in the ■ past, millions of pounds upon unprofitable railways; that is. railways which do not ] pay interest on their enormous capital j cost." I Sir Evarnrd R. Calthrop, an authority I upon railway economics in India, was j quoted by Captain Dansey as follows: j " Die traffic to be carried in any district through which if is contemplated to build ; a new railway, is the same whether the i proposed line is carried out on the 2ft. or the standard gauge, but it is shown that the amount • of capital over which j profits are to be spread, may make all I (he difference between bankruptcy and per- ! dition on the one hand and success and (vigorous development on the other. To

>oo 6 6 oooobbcJod bo insist, regardless alike of natural conditions and of the aspect of any project from the commercial and business standpoint, that every line, in India should be built to standard gauge or not at all, is proved to be mere madness. The principle underlying the question of gauge is that a railway like any other-machine, is, comparatively 'speaking, economical only When working at its full power, and in the recognition of this principle .lies the whole art and mystery of the financial success which has attended the working of narrow gauge feeder lines in India in districts where a standard gauge would not only starve but would lose money to the end of the chapter." ' It is interesting to note that in the last session (1922) of the South African Parliament a sum of three million pounds was voted for the construction of " Light Agricultural Railways." . . In connection with the Hamilton-West Coast railway scheme great importance is, attached to the Kawliia Harbour as a port. On the. bar at low water there is 17ft. of water, and 28ft. at high-tide, while inside the heads there are wide reaches with as much as 56ft. of water. The present wharf is not "very satisfactory, but the local Harbour Board has a scheme for building a new wharf at a point where a much better berthage can be obtained. Two other railway projects have' occupied attention in the Waikato. The first was for the construction of a standard heavy railway from Te Awamutu to Putaruru, but evidence sufficiently convincing to justify Government sanction could not be brought forward. The other scheme, which is still a living one, is. for a light line from Te Awamutu to Pirongia, a distance of eight miles. Hopes are entertained that a district will be proclaimed in the near future. - ■■,'■■

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Bibliographic details

LIGHT RAILWAY PROJECT, New Zealand Herald, Volume LX, Issue 18411, 29 May 1923, Supplement

Word Count
2,370

LIGHT RAILWAY PROJECT New Zealand Herald, Volume LX, Issue 18411, 29 May 1923, Supplement

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