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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61



Government should cause advertising panels of various sizes to be fixed at all the stations, and should charge a fixed rate for their use, by the month, quarter, or year, or they might be let annually by auction.

This system will be better understood by consulting the accompanying table of fares and rates.

Such is the outline of the scheme I propose. All the details require filling in, and on the skill with which that is done, much of its success would depend. I will, however, undertake to furnish them should they be required.

As in the present circumstances of the country, it is not desirable to add to the existing burden of taxation; it remains for me to show that the proposed system will directly pay a better rate of interest than the one now in use. First I give

The Opinion of Experts.

Auckland, Memorandum for Samuel Vail, Esq., Auckland.

With reference to the several discussions we have had with you upon the advisability of introducing throughout the New Zealand Railways, the low fares that you have publicly advocated, we beg to state that after full and deep consideration we are prepared to agree with you in respect of the following:—

That the increase in the number of passenger fares taken would be three times as many as at present, or an increase of two hundred per cent, upon the present issue.

That the average fare could not sink below one shilling.

That the increased passenger traffic would not perceptibly increase the working expenses.

Ridley William Moody,

T. D. Edmonds,

Jas. Stodart.

page 12

What this memorandum means is this—that the result of reducing the fares to the low rates proposed, would be an increase in the railway revenue of from £200,000 to £250,000 from passenger fares. The following figures supply the basis of this calculation.

The amount received under the heading "Passengers, etc.," for the year ending 31st March, 1884, was £371,521. This includes the amount received for season tickets, parcels, horses, carriages, and dogs. We shall be safe in deducting £80,000, as received from these sources, which would leave for ordinary fares only £291,521, an average of 1s. 9¾ per fare.*

The number of fares taken during the past year was 3,272,644, this multiplied by 3 gives 9,817,932, which at one shilling each yields £490,869, a clear gain to the revenue of £199,375 from passenger fares only. But as the revenue from parcels, dogs, horses, and carriages must also largely increase, I estimate that the increase of revenue from "coaching" (or "passengers, etc.") would be at least a quarter of a million per annum (£250,000).

The indirect benefits that would result from the introduction of such a system upon our railways are beyond calculation, it is simply impossible to estimate them.

I desire to call attention to the thoroughly efficient and impartial nature of the report given by Messrs. Moody, Edmonds, and Stodart. Messrs. Moody and Stodart are probably the most experienced railway men in the colony, while Mr. Edmonds, although a young man, has been trained on railways from his boyhood.

None of these gentlemen are now in any way connected with the management of any railway, and are therefore perfectly free to give an unbiassed opinion.

In addition to a large colonial experience, Mr. Moody has had 17 years' experience on the Great Northern and other principal English railways. Mr. Edmonds was trained on the Great Western line, and after his arrival in this colony has held the important post of chief clerk on the Hurunui-Bluff system, which post he resigned some time ago. This is the gentleman who, under the nom de plume of "Practical," wrote several letters in opposition to me. Mr. Stodart was for 21 years on the Great Western line, four years on the London, Chatham, and Dover line, and five years on the Bombay and Baroda and Central Indian line, holding important positions on all of them.

* According to a table published, after this was written and published, the average appears to be is. 11½d.

page 13

While these gentlemen were kindly writing their memorandum in the North, Mr. William Conyers, late General Manager of New Zealand Railways, was corresponding with me from the far South. From a long and interesting letter written by this gentleman, I make the following extract—"I agree with Messrs. Moody, Stodart, and Edmonds in their report on your system, and you may use my name to that effect. In answer to your first query, I am of opinion that the number of passenger fares would be three times the present number—that is, an increase of 200 per cent. (I wrote you this before, never having seen their report at the time.) 2. The average fares, which are now (including season tickets, and probably parcels, dogs, etc., only 2s. 3d., could not sink below is. 3. Three passengers could be carried as cheaply as one." Thus it will be seen I have the support of the most experienced men in the colony, and that they agree with me in saying that the least result from lowering the fares as I propose would be a net increase of the railway revenue of £200,000 per annum.

Since these gentlemen signed the above statements, many other "railway men" have examined my plans and have expressed their entire approval and their conviction that they must succeed.

I invite special attention to the fact that no professional man, having the least pretention to hold a position as a "railway expert," has ever attempted to show that I am wrong, while many of them assert that I am right.*

The question whether passengers can be profitably carried at the rates I propose is simply a matter of figures, which anyone can prove for themselves. The following is the right way of

* I believe I am right in stating that the present Minister for Public Works, the Hon. E. Richardson's only claim to pose as a "railway man" consists in the fact that he was the junior partner in the contracting firm that constructed the Lyttelton-Christchurch tunnel. This, I understand, was the only railway work he was ever employed on until he was made Minister for Public Works for New Zealand. Mr. J. P. Maxwell was, as I have elsewhere stated, simply a clerk in an Engineer's office.