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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

Railway Rating Expert

Railway Rating Expert

sets about his work.

To start with, the only object he has in view is to make money. What may be the ultimate results to the commercial and social interests of the community is nothing to him. That does not trouble him for one moment—his sole idea is how to make the best return during his term of office. The question is, How is it to be done? He finds certain rates fixed, some legal, some illegal; that does not matter much. After careful study, he comes to the conclusion that by reducing the rate on a certain article, say flour, he can do some trade he is not at present doing, but he will have to do it at a rate that will perhaps only pay a portion of the working expenses; however, for various reasons, it may be better than having rolling-stock idle. He now has to find out an article that will not only pay its own profit, but also the profit flour should have paid. He fastens, say, on hardware, and puts the rates up as high as possible. He keeps the strain on hardware as long as it will bear it. It is his business not to push things too far, but to ease off the strain in time, and put it on some other article, say crockery, and squeeze that to the utmost. Or he will perhaps pit one town or district against another—as is done now in New Zealand—fixing the rates in favour of one town and against another; and so he goes on, taking a little off here, and putting as much as possible on there, and ringing the changes as often as it is necessary to keep people quiet.

It will be seen at once that to work this system effectively it takes a man of great skill, and those who are really clever at it can always command very large salaries. It is, therefore, no wonder that they do not desire to see a system adopted that everyone can understand.

We have all heard a good deal about political railways, but prior to the commencement of the present agitation few, if any, were aware that we had