THE ARTHURS-PASS TUMNEL CONTRACT
For Press Association. Greyraoutb, Jan 11; Messrs McLean. and Sons, the contraators for tbe Midland railway tun nel, put on a gang of nimi to-day for thehrst time to clear away debris from tbe site of the tunnel -.mouth. The operation, though equivalent in a sense to turning the first sod, did not involve any Ceremony. Although a good deal of preparatory work has been performed, thfre is necessarily a great deal still to be done,-speci-ally in eonnection-with tbe^supply of hydraulic power. The huts for the workmen are practically finished and ready for occupation. A few visitors who happened to be passing thfi tunnel entrance to-day, can boast of having seen the actual commencement at the western mouth of the Midland railway tunnel, a work which is destined to greatly figure in fche future history of New Zealand. Mr Neil M'Lean, one of the contractors for the .Arthur's Pass tunnel on the Midland Railway, speaking to a repreaenative of the Ohristchurch " Press" regarding the progress of tde work, stated that he had just received word from his. brother, Mr Murdoch M'Lean, thathe had purchased an lngersollRand air drill, which would be used in the boring operations at the tunnel.. While in Switzerland Mr M'Lean made a visit to the Loe't. schberg tunnel (eight and a half I miles) which is being constructed between Brigue and Bertie, and iii which the air drill is being used with satisfactory results. The contractors vvere-driviag the drills with electric motors, the power being generated by water and supplied fr'eo. , Mr M'Lsan estimates that 2000 h.p. will ba required at each end of the tunnel to "drive the drills. At the Bealey end the Punchbowl Falls will be harnessed, and it is estimated that 750 h.p. will be generated. At the Otira end one of the streams will be utilised and 500 h.p. will be available. . In both cases the power will be generated at the source o.( supply, aiid conveyed by wires td the tunnel workings. I In regard to the_ ventilation of the workings} where tbe headings are advanced sufficiently to necessitate a plant being-put in, the system of exhaust will be adopted in preference to air -being forced iv from the tutinei's mouth. The e%baust system is generally favoured on the Continent: as it draws out the foul air, and fresh air rushes inj nature abhorring a vacuum. It has been found that to force in fresh air only removna the i'oul atmosphere fiom the face, and that the work oannot be properly ventilated in the deeper recesses of the headings. At tho Otira end, Mr M'Lean says about 50 huts have beon erected, and carpenters are now building the workshops, while labourers are doing bush clearing at the tunnel mouth, lie expects to start with the cuttings next week. So far nothing has been done at the Bealey end, and probably a start will not be mad 9 until Mr Murdoch M'Lean returns. ■ Mr M'Lean is finding no difficulty in getting all the labour he requires at present. lie receives nunibrous applications for work. "Of course I don't know what it will be like later on. " he said, ' ' but I think that with a good' long job offering at 10s a day and no lost time, there should be plenty of apr. lications, "