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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

Rail and Road Controversy — Views of New South Wales Railway Commissioners

page 60

Rail and Road Controversy
Views of New South Wales Railway Commissioners.

The following statement has been received from the office of the Railway Commissioners, New South Wales, in reference to the increased business the railways of that State were said to derive through the operation of motor transport.

“An advocate of road transport recently ventured the opinion in the press that railway administrations were wrong in contending that motor transport agencies had unfair advantage over railways because, for one reason, they did not have to provide the roads on which they travel. He said that, as against this, railways derived great benefit from the traffic which motors take to and from railway stations, and he urged railway authorities to ascertain and compare that tonnage with their estimate of what has been lost through direct motor competition. It can be said in reply that no railwayman who has studied the facts will be deceived by that reasoning, credible as it may seem to the uninformed.

“For some years the Railway Commissioners of this State have been emphasising the fact that primary production, the basis of our wealth, and therefore the principal factor in a railway prosperity, has not increased. Yet, in practically every case where a new country line has been built in recent years, verbal guarantees have been given that the provision of a railway would induce settlement, and, by stimulating production, bring more railway business. Here are the figures showing the total tonnage of goods and livestock carried on the New South Wales Railways during the past ten years, ended June 30 in each case:—

1921 15,261,806
1922 14,197,055
1923 13,567,500
1924 15,515,662
1925 16,026,532
1926 14,809,175
1927 16,864,065
1928 15,223,277
1929 14,306,979
1930 11,861,297

“If there were any truth in the statement that motor transport has added to the business of the railways, it should be reflected in those tonnages. They have varied because of seasonal conditions and other changes, but quite definitely they have not increased, although during the same period the number of motor vehicles in commercial use has grown more than tenfold, and many of them are taking goods to and from the railway. But no commodity of any importance is being so carried which was not conveyed by rail prior to the advent of motor transport. The grazier and farmer benefit by the fact that the clip and crop can be carried to the rail loading point very much more quickly than formerly, but that does not augment the railway revenue, and wrill not until more wool and wheat are produced. Neither is any more coal, coke, or shale, which, together, represent more than half the total goods tonnage of the railways, being carried by rail because of the existence of motor vehicles.

“Whatever benefit the community enjoys from the introduction of motor transport, it can be said that the Railway Department has not had any noticeable share in it. On the contrary, the position now is that the people have to maintain two transport organisations doing the work formerly satisfactorily handled by the Government transport enterprise. Having duplicated its transport facilities in that way, the community has to meet enormous railway deficits.”