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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)

[section]

The Prime Minister was accorded an ovation on rising to propose the toast of “Port and Centre.” He said he wished to take the opportunity of saying that he had accepted the invitation to come to this important centre because he felt that the occasion was one of supreme importance to the country as a whole, although more particularly to the people of Christchurch, Lyttelton, and the great and growing district of Canterbury. The development of the centres in which the people lived was most important. When the Lyttelton-Christchurch railway was opened the total length of the railways in Canterbury was seven miles only, and to-day it was 520 miles, and in that period the population had increased from a few thousands to over 220,000. To-day, although some of them might not realise it, Canterbury was recognised as one of the most important districts in the whole of New Zealand. (Applause.)

The Moorhouse Tunnel. Heathcote portal of the tunnel, shewing electrical equipment.

The Moorhouse Tunnel.
Heathcote portal of the tunnel, shewing electrical equipment.

Another reason why he had come down from Wellington to attend the function, said Sir Joseph, was that he was impressed with the fact that it was a unique occasion in the history of railway development in New Zealand. There had been an expenditure of £50,000,000 on the railways of the Dominion and this was the first time that a section of the working railways had been converted from steam to electric traction. He did not want to be misunderstood in saying that. It was not the only electrified line in New Zealand. Canterbury had a share of the only other electric railway line, the Otira tunnel section, but it was not a part of the working railways at the time it was electrified. The section of railway over which they had travelled that day was the first section of the working railways to be electrified.