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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 5 (September 1, 1930)

Mr. Edward Dobson's Estimates

Mr. Edward Dobson's Estimates.

Mr. Edward Dobson, the Provincial Engineer, who superintended the layout of the proposed Lyttelton to Christchurch railway, in giving evidence before the Committee of the Provincial Council, supplied detailed estimates of the cost of construction, equipment, and operating. He gave a general description of the proposed line, the length of which was six miles 40½ chains. The steepest grade was 1 in 150 (rising to the western end of the tunnel) and the sharpest curve (of 10 chains radius) at the Lyttelton end. The grade through the tunnel was 1 in 287. He estimated the cost of the work at £300,000, under the following headings:

Land and compensation 9,000
Six miles railway complete 235,000
Stations and rolling stock 44,600
Superintendence 11,400

He also gave details showing how the total of each of these amounts was reached.

The estimate was for a single line, and a tunnel, 15 feet wide and 18ft high above rail level, 2,838 yards in length. The cost of tunnelling at £64 10s. per lineal yard was £183,051.

Lyttelton station was to cost £23,000 and Christchurch £10,600. The larger cost of Lyttelton station was due to the need for filling and retaining walls, but the cost could be somewhat reduced by the employment of prison labour on a portion of the work.

page 39

The rolling stock estimated to be required was:—Two engines, eight passenger carriages, one brakevan, four covered goods wagons, two horse-boxes (each to convey four horses), one cattle wagon, two timber trucks, and thirty goods trucks, to cost in all, with tools, duplicates, and other contingencies, £19,500. This was considered sufficient to deal with a traffic equal to 200,000 tons per annum, but for the initial traffic (estimated at 30,000 tons) nearly the same rolling stock would be required.

The proposals for superintendence were —Consulting engineer (in England), £500 per annum; resident engineer (in Colony), £800 per annum; two inspectors (at £150 each), £300 per annum; surveys and occasional assistance, £300 per annum; in all £1,900 per annum for six years, £11,400.

In reply to a suggestion that the salary of the Resident Engineer was unduly high, Mr. Dobson stated that the engineer in charge of a similar work in England would be paid £600 a year, and he would work under the immediate supervision of an engineer-in-chief. Unless the engineer in control was a man of high professional standing, in whose judgment and professional character a contracting firm could place entire confidence, they would probably decline to proceed with the undertaking. Such a man, if brought from England to take charge, would require to be paid £1,000 a year salary, a sum for his outfit, and a free passage Home on completion of the work.

The cost of buildings for a terminal station was £6,000, viz:—Station office, £800; goods warehouse, £1,200; carriage shed, £200; platforms, £420; engine house, £1,000; repairing shops, £2,000; cranes, weighbridge, etc., £380. This would include all the accommodation required at the starting of the line.

The cost of working a traffic of 30,000 tons with passengers in proportion would be about £8,500. An increase of £1,500 would work a traffic of 60,000 tons, as follows:—

Staff—Manager £800, 2 clerks in charge (£300 each) £600, 2 clerks in charge at intermediate stations (£200 each) £400,2 head porters (£180 each) £360, 8 porters (£120 each) £960, 1 guard £220, 6 policemen (£110 each) £660, total £4,000; maintenance permanent way, 6 miles at £150 per mile, £900; maintenance of buildings, £500; 2 engines in steam, including train expenses, £3,600; reserve fund, 5 per cent. on rolling stock, £1,000; total, £10,000.

Christchurch Passenger Yard, 1930. A portion of the overhead electrical equipment.

Christchurch Passenger Yard, 1930.
A portion of the overhead electrical equipment.

The maximum charge per ton on the proposed railway was 15/-, including collection and delivery. This rate, it was considered, was sufficiently low to preclude competition by other means of transport. It was estimated that if the Sumner Road were completed as planned the cartage rate could be as low as 20/-per ton, and by steamer up the Heathcote River (to make a profit) 20/- per ton, including collection and delivery. The latter rate could not be reduced to any extent by the improvement of navigation.

Assuming the population to reach 30,000 in 1866, the following was given as a fair estimate of the traffic when the line was in working order:— page 40 page 41
60,000 tons of goods at 15/- per ton45,000
Passengers, 250 daily each way9,390
Parcels, 200 per day, at 1/- each3,130
Less collection and delivery of 60,000 tons at ⅙ per ton4,500