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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

In Conclusion

In Conclusion

I would earnestly ask my fellow colonists to ponder over the following figures, and ask themselves this question, If we are to continue the present system of management, and are to borrow another, £12,000,000 or £15,000,000 for further railway construction, what will be the ultimate result?

I think I have shown that railways can be made to pay, and, if so, it would matter little what we borrowed.

page 33
During the last five years our railways have made the following losses:—
1881 £180,853
1882 207,135
1883 262,311
1884 377,186
1885 338,288
Loss in 5 years £1,365,773

The apparent improvement in 1885 was brought about by the ready expedient of pouncing upon users of the railways unawares—by suddenly raising the tariff. For the present financial year, up to the 5th December, the receipts had fallen below the Treasurer's estimate by £70,000, and there are still four months of the year to run.

For this estimate, the Treasurer, of course, relied on the Minister for Public Works, and he again, no doubt, relies on the General Manager. Last year, also, their revenue fell short of the estimate by, £70,000, and they now are about to ask us to give them the control of another ten or fifteen millions' worth of property, because, as they choose to tell us, they cannot make our lines pay owing to their being disconnected.

That the disconnection of the lines is not the cause of their failure is proved by the fact that, for years past, the most rapidly increasing loss has been made on the Huranui-Bluff line, which has 900 miles, completely connecting several large centres of population. The real cause of our loss is the want of business knowledge and capacity in those who really govern our railroads. That many in the Department are aware that this is so, is proved by the fact that our best officers are leaving the service as fast as they can find openings elsewhere.

A portion of the Press of the colony has lately given expression to the opinion that a deliberate attempt is being made to so disgust the community with the railroads, that they will be glad to sell them to a syndicate. While I have never given utterance to such a thought, I confess it has often crossed my mind, for it does seem to me a thing incredible that the monstrous absurdities, perpetrated daily, can be allowed to take place, under the idea that they are likely to lead to successful financial results, or the good of the community.

To those who are inclined to favour the idea of selling the railroads of the colony, I recommend a careful perusal of the Appendix to this pamphlet.

page 34

Whatever may have led to the present position, I again say it is such as to require the earnest consideration of all who have the interests of this Colony at heart; and I would urge upon my fellow colonists the desirability of impressing upon their Parliamentary representatives the necessity that exists for an immediate and thorough examination of the whole subject.