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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Report on Proposed System of Tramways

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Report on Proposed System of Tramways for Roslyn, Half-Way Bush, and Surroundlng Districts.

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Dunedin: Mackay, Bkacken, and Co., General Printers, Moray Place.

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View showing Dummy and Car ascending an Incline of 1 in 6.

View showing Dummy and Car ascending an Incline of 1 in 6.

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Report on Proposed System of Tramways.

To Property Holders, and Residents in the Roslyn, Half-Way Bush, and surrounding Districts,—

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TThrough our official connection with the Roslyn Council, we imagine it will not be out of place to bring before you a scheme for the purpose of laying down a system of Tramways extending from the City of Dunedm to the Municipality of Roslyn, and which may be extended to the Half-Way Bush, with branches running towards the Boroughs of Mornington and Maori Hill.

Having had this in view for some time past, we have leisurely been acquiring the necessary information requisite for giving you an opinion as to the best system to be adopted, together with the estimates necessary to complete the undertaking. It is with pleasure that we now lay before you our views, and trust that it may be the means of assisting to develop a scheme which must prove of immense benefit to the City and its higher suburbs.

The Municipality of Roslyn is suitable at an elevation of about 600 feet above the sea level, and is approached from the City by roads having continuous steep inclinations, the gradients ranging from about 1 in 6 to 1 in 12. The distance traversed is about one mile, so that it is at once seen that a considerable amount of energy is expended in overcoming the ascent.

Owing to the difficulty of access many have been compelled to take up residences in the lower levels, who would have preferred living in the higher suburbs; and, as a consequence, the population has increased slowly in proportion to other rural and suburban municipalities adjoining Dunedin, which have easy access by rail.

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From observation it has been found that the number travelling to and from Roslyn daily may be estimated at about 1800, while another 300 may be taken for residents in the upper parts of the City from Arthur Street westwards. With such a large travelling population it is apparent that sufficient inducement is held out to allow of a tramway being laid down which financially would prove successful.

Proposed Systems.

As previously mentioned, the steepest gradient may be estimatedat about 1 in 6, and as this inclination is impracticable for ordinary locomotive power, some other system will have to be adopted which will meet the requirements. In addition to the use of horse power, several methods have been brought forward in different parts of the world for working lines of tram and railways up steep inclines. They may be stated as follows.—
1st.Tramways worked by compressed air engines.
2nd.The centre-rail system to allow of friction wheels.
3rd.The endless wire rope system, worked with stationary engines.

The first method has not yet been sufficiently worked to allow of an estimate being formed of its suitability for street traffic, or of the expenditure involved in its construction and expense of working.

The Centre-rail System was adopted in the Mont Cenis Railway, but owing to the complications involved in the construction of the locomotive, and its liability to be thrown out of gear, it is questionable whether it could be adopted profitably as a permanent mode of transit. Another objection to this system would be the position of the centre rail, which would require to be elevated above the level of the street, and this would interfere with the ordinary traffic.

The third method is now in use in San Francisco, California, where three lines are laid down in different parts of the city. It has worked admirably, and financially is a great success.

It appears to us that this last system is the most practicable, and will be most suitable for working the steep incline. Such being the case a brief description of the modus operandi will be sufficient in the meantime to convey a fair idea of the general working arrangements.

An endless wire rope, lin. in diameter is laid down on the incline between any two fixed points, and is weighted at page 5 one end so as to keep it always in the proper tension. The rope is supported on sheaves fixed in iron or timber tubes, laid below the ground. These tubes are made with a continuous slot which runs the whole length, to admit of the connection with the car. The wire rope is made to revolve continuously during the hours the line is open for traffic, by means of a stationary engine fixed at either end of the incline. The tramway has a double line of rails, and the tubes are fixed in the centre of each line. The whole of the permanent way is laid below the surface of the ground so that ordinary dray traffic will not be interfered with.

The working of the cars may be described as follows:—A traction car or dummy is constructed which takes the place of a locomotive and to this the passenger car is coupled. The dummy is connected to the wire rope by an arm projecting downwards through the slot in the tube and carrying at its lower end a gripping cast iron jaw; this jaw can be made by the car conductor to grip the wire rope, which then draws the dummy with the car attached to it. On releasing the grip the dummy is free of the rope and can be brought to a standstill by the brake, so that cars can be stopped and started at any portion of the incline, for the purpose of taking up and letting down passengers. The dummy and car are provided with brakes, which can be applied instantaneously, doing away with almost any liability to accident.

The working of the cars is so arranged that an equal number are travelling up and down on the incline at the same time, thus reducing the amount of power that would otherwise be required from the stationary engine.

Proposed Route.

The accompanying sketch shows the route of the proposed tramway.

The section from the city to the top of incline at Roslyn will have its terminus at the intersection of Rattray and Maclaggan streets. It will then follow up Rattray street to its junction with Arthur street and York Place. From this point it will continue in a direct line over the town belt, to the top of Leven street, Roslyn. This section will be worked on the endless wire rope system.

The objects for making use of Rattray street are:—That from its present steep gradients it is seldom used for dray traffic, and likewise with the exception of one curve, an almost continuous straight line will be obtained, and this is a matter of primary importance in wire rope traction.

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Leven street in Roslyn is also too steep for dray traffic, and it is centrally situated.

The second section viz., from the top of Leven street onwards. The two lines of trains are shewn as branching off to the Half-Way Bush, Maori Hill and Mornington.

The termini of these branches could be determined at a future time but they are limited in the meantime to the boundaries of the Roslyn Municipality.

On this section the ordinary line of tramway would be laid down, and although some of the road lines are of steep inclinations, with slight improvement the cars could run safely with locomotive or by horses.


The estimated cost of constructing and equipping the proposed tramways may be approximated as follows:—
1st. Section. Laying down endless wire rope between City terminus and top of Leven street, Roslyn, including all permanent way with stationary engines and cars necessary for present traffic £15,000
2nd. Section. Approximate cost for laying down the permanent way, say 3 miles, at £1,500 per mile £4,500
Road improvements 800
Equipments including locomotive or horses and cars 3,000
Total cost of scheme—
1st. Section £15,000
2nd. Section 8,300

The above estimates do not include any compensation that may be required by the City or any of the municipalities.

General Remarks.

The estimated cost of the scheme may, at first sight, appear to be a very heavy undertaking, yet a little investigation will show that it will prove, independent of other advantages it possesses, a safe and profitable investment for capital.

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Taking the present travelling population as a basis for calculation, it shews somewhat as follows:—
Daily passengers available to higher suburbs of Dunedin say, 300 at 2d £2 10 0
To and from Roslyn 1800 at 3d 22 10 0
Daily fares £25 0 0

This amounts to, say, £7,500 per annum, which, after allowing a very large margin for working expenses will leave a balance of over £3,000, or equivalent to at least twenty per cent annually on the amount of £15,000 invested in the construction and equipment of Section No. 1.

Regarding the other section of the line, there is not sufficient data on which to base any financial calculations but it may be assumed that it will pay a fair interest on the amount expended.

But it is not the present travelling population that should be taken into account.

In all parts of the world where easy and cheap communication has been provided, the travelling population has increased to a very great extent, and in proportion with the advantages gained

In San Francisco, on the Clay street tramway which is similarly placed and worked on the principle recommended, it has proved, after running for 5 years, that hill property in the vicinity has increased treble in value and as a proportionate number of new residences have been built; the travelling population could be fairly estimated to have increased to an even greater extent.

The projected scheme should commend itself on the following grounds:—

That it will be the means of bringing the favourite residential suburbs within easy communication with the City.

It will open up and render valuable a considerable extent of land lying vacant in Roslyn, Half-Way Bush and Kaikorai Valley, together with the Dunedin Corporation Reserves which in all probability will be sub-divided and leased as building sites.

It will add to the wealth and prosperity of Roslyn and the suburbs generally, and will prove a safe and remunerative investment for capital.

We have the honour to be, Gentlemen,

Your obedient servants,

Reid & Duncans, C.E.

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Plan Showing Approximate Route of Proposed Roslyn Tramway

Plan Showing Approximate Route of Proposed Roslyn Tramway