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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24

VII.—Railways and Roads

VII.—Railways and Roads.

As already stated, the amount expended on these has been 6,198,000l., with the following results, viz. :—

1873 145 miles open; 434 miles being made.

'74 209 miles open; 621 miles being made.

'75 542 miles open; 464 miles being made.

The latest estimate of earnings on the portions of lines now being worked is 445,000l. for the year (including the Canterbury and Otago lines), and it is calculated that this will yield about 3 per cent, on their cost. But as the system becomes completed, there is every reason to believe that the earnings will cover the interest of capital expended. This expectation is justified by the fact that the railways (with one exception) are made on the three feet six inches gauge, and the cost will not therefore exceed 6,000l. per mile.

The value of the railways cannot, however, be estimated solely by the returns yielded on the traffic, as it is obvious that railways open up the country through which they pass, even more effectually than roads, and increase the value of property, public and private, many times beyond the cost of construction; and it should be borne in mind that the crown lands share in this enhanced value to the full extent.