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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

Early Unification Plans

Early Unification Plans.

The question of adopting a uniform gauge in Australia was not seriously entertained until the late Mr. Eddy, Chief Commissioner for Railways in New South Wales, urged (early in 1889) upon the Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, the great need for the unification of the railway gauges. He advised the appointment of a commission of railway officials in each Colony to consider and advise on the matter. He suggested that the Colony which found it desirable for the present to make narrow gauge lines in outlying districts, should arrange its stations, tunnels and bridges in such a way as to enable the uniform gauge to be laid down at a later date without incurring any additional expenditure in enlarging such works. Unfortunately his suggestions were not acted upon.

The matter was not further considered until a meeting of the Federal Convention was held at Adelaide in 1897. The Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia remitted the question to their Railway Commissioners, who met in conference at Melbourne in 1897, and advised that, in view of the contemplated Federation of the Australian Colonies and the desirability of providing the utmost facility for intercommunication, they were impressed with the necessity of having, as soon page 13 as possible, a uniform gauge. The estimates then framed were very low indeed in comparison with those submitted by the Royal Commission in 1921. Time went on but no definite action was taken. Conferences were held, and the urgent necessity for the work was confirmed at each, but nothing was accomplished.