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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61


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The Present Position

Of our railways will be best understood by the following tables. It will be seen that it is such as to require the serious consideration of every man having any interest in this country, and that the utter breakdown of the present system of management is conclusively proved.

31st March, 1881—Amount Expended and Liability Incurred £9,228,334
31st March, 1882—Amount Expended and Liability Incurred 10,974 000
31st March, 1883—Amount Expended and Liability Incurred 11,863,576
31st March, 1884—Amount Expended and Liability Incurred 12,795,125
31st March, 1885—Amount Expended and Liability Incurred 13,218,560

In considering the cost of our railways it is necessary to bear in mind that the Department does not appear to know what they have cost. In the Public Works statement and Mr. Maxwell's report for the year ending 31st March, 1883, this is how it is stated:—Money expended according to the Minister in his statement, £10,478,898; Table No. 1, £10,224,450; Return No. 6, £11,409,479. Expenditure and Liabilities—Table No. 1, £10,759,295; Table No. 2, £11,863,576, and appendices H & I, £11,399,909.

Mr. Richardson in his statement for 1885, puts the cost at £11,810,194, or £53,382 less than the expenditure and liability on the 31st March, 1883. His figure is arrived at by the very convenient process of cutting out the entire cost of the provincial railways—£1,104,281—See Table No. 2. No interest is reckoned on this amount, but credit is taken for all these lines produce.

1881—No. of miles open 1,277
1882—No. of miles open 1,333
1883—No. of miles open 1,373
1884—No. of miles open 1,396
1885—No. of miles open 1,479

An increase of 202 miles in the five years, for an increased expenditure of £3.990,226, or only a few pounds short of £4,000,000.

1881—No. of passengers carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, 2,849,561
1882—No. of passengers carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, 2,911,477
1883—No. of passengers carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, 3,283,378
1884—No. of passengers carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, 3,272,644
1885—No. of passengers carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, 3,232,886

From this it will be seen that last year we carried 50,492 fewer passengers than we did three years ago.

1881—Amount received for Coaching £346,280
1882—Amount received for Coaching 361.705
1883—Amount received for Coaching 396,763
1884—Amount received for Coaching 371,521
1885—Amount received for Coaching 400,626
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It is not possible from any information published, to form a correct estimate of the rate of interest we pay for our loans. The late Minister, Mr. W. W. Johnston, twice stated in the House that it was "over 5 per cent." In my calculations I have taken it at 5¼ per cent., and Sir J. Vogel in 1870, placed it at 5½ per cent.

Having thus given a brief sketch of their present position, let us now consider