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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Management of the Railways

Management of the Railways.

It would be good policy, in my opinion, were the railways managed in the interests of settlement, and with a view to the development of traffic, rather than run on purely business lines with a view to a large profit. If our policy be merely to make the railways pay interest on the cost of construction, we might relieve the consolidated fund to the extent of £200,000 or £300,000 per annum by selling them; but I regard the railways as one of the best colonising agents we possess, and apart from the danger of establishing a huge monopoly, which we should incur by parting with the ownership of the railways, there are other good reasons in favour of retaining them. I consider the Legislature should instruct the Railway Commissioners as to the policy they should pursue, without hampering them with details as to management, of which they may be presumed to be better judges than unskilled persons can possibly be. I should instruct them that the railways are to be managed in the interest of settlement, and that the tariff of rates should be adjusted so as to stimulate traffic, and with a view to equalising, as far as they reasonably can, the cost price at the port of export of the produce of the country, no matter what distance it may have to be hauled. Such a policy would, in my opinion, give a great impetus to settlement, and would in time so greatly augment the traffic as to makeup, in part, if not wholly, the loss during the process of development, and would largely increase the area of land profitably occupied, and thus increase our prosperity as a colony.