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

The Commission's Recommendation

The Commission's Recommendation.

The Commission then reviewed the situation, and concluded that it must be left to the Provincial Government to decide whether a road or a railway was best suited to the needs and circumstances of the community. Should the Government consider the railway too costly an undertaking, then the Commission recommended the completion of the Sumner Road by a tunnel through Evans Pass, and the improvement of the Sumner bar by filling in the rocks at the entrance. (It was recognised that the heavy traffic would not be carted over the hill.)

Referring to the working costs and capacity of the proposed railway, the Commission gave the following figures:—Passenger trains in England are run at a cost of 3/- per mile. Allowing double that cost here, the expense of running six and a quarter miles would not exceed 40/-, but the engine would be capable of taking, in addition to one carriage seating 18 passengers, five or six wagons of merchandise, say 18 tons, or in six journeys 108 passengers and 108 tons of goods at a cost of £12. This considerably exceeded the present needs of the settlement. Goods landed and shipped at Christ-church Quay from 1st April, 1853 to 1st April, 1854, did not exceed 2,200 tons, or about seven tons per day. Even this, at 10/- per ton, and 34 passengers each way at 2/6 would defray the expenses of working the railway; but before the line would be opened the quantity of wool would be doubled, likewise agricultural produce in even greater ratio; and this traffic would continue to increase with the progress of the Colony. The fact that the railway was in progress might bring capital from Australia for the purchase of land, and place at disposal funds more than sufficient to liquidate the cost of the railway.

The Provincial Council was prorogued on 12th April, 1854, in order that the Superintendent and other members of the General Assembly might attend the sitting at Auckland. The Superintendent, in his closing address to the Council, stated that there was no necessity for an immediate decision on the report of the Commission, as the plans suggested were of so important a character, involving so large an expenditure of public money, and so closely affecting private as well as public interests, that it was right to postpone any final decision until the public had had ample opportunity of discussing the various plans and expressing an opinion thereon. After the meeting of the General Assembly, the Council would be asked to attend again in order to deal with the question.