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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

Reductions too extreme

Reductions too extreme,

and I have many times been told, that if I would be content to advocate an all-round reduction to one-half of the present fares and rates, that I should have the whole country with me. My reply has always been, Very likely, but such a reduction would only mean financial ruin, and it would not attain the commercial and social ends we ought to have in view.

No reform in the system of managing our railways, can be successful that does not bring their beneficial use within the reach of every class of the community, and a reduction of fares to one-half would never do that. No labouring man out of employment can afford to pay 7s.* to travel 100 miles in search of work, maintain himself for a day or two, and pay 7s. to return, if unsuccessful. To a poor man there is a vast difference between 4s. and 14s. Besides, I have clearly proved that the work can be done well at the prices proposed, therefore, why should we be content with half a loaf when we can have a whole one? What we want is a startling reformation at once, something that will arrest attention and popularise the use of the railways.

The lower we can bring our transit charges down, the greater will be our commercial prosperity, the greater our social happiness. Nothing would lead so directly, and immediately to a great expansion of our trade, both local and export, as cutting down transit charges to their lowest possible limit.

Many people have objected to my plan on the ground that, in their opinion, we have

* Half the present fare.