The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
Railway Charges on Stock
Railway Charges on Stock.
Mr R. Reynolds moved, "That it was the opinion of this meeting that if some reduction were to be made in the charges for the carriage of live stock the railways would be more extensively used, and further, that owing to the extremely low prices of farm produce this Conference would point out the necessity for grain and other farm produce, as well as lime and other manures, to be carried at the lowest possible rates, and that every facility should be given the producers so as to encourage the use of the railways more generally than at present."
Mr Borrie, in seconding the resolution, said that farmers felt sore upon being called upon to pay large sums for the maintenance of the roads, which were used for the carrying of produce, whilst the railways were not used.
Mr Pattullo pointed out how beneficial it would be to the agricultural community if lime were more generally used, but that on account of the high charges ruling on the railways, its page 11 use was restricted. He thought the Government should be asked to carry lime and other manures at a nominal rate.
Mr Williamson contended that the cost of carrying sheep on railways was excessive. At the sheep sales at Culverden and Marlborough, in the South Island, about 100,000 sheep were sold. If there was a reduction in the freight, these would be carried on the railways instead of being driven by road.
Mr M. C. Orbell considered it was the duty of the Conference to bring the question of railway charges before the Commissioners. The produce got from the land was now 30 to 40 per cent, lower than it was some years ago. When the railways were made the money was borrowed at 4½ per cent, the country was then satisfied if they gave a return of 2 or per cent, on the capital. Now when money can be got at 3½ per cent, a return of 2 or 2½ per cent, ought to be sufficient. He did not think that lowering the freights on the railways would increase the taxation, provided the reduction was made judiciously.
Mr McLaren said that 16,000 bales of wool were sent out of his district last season, not one of which was sent by railway.
Mr C. N. Orbell stated that from the property he represented 1600 bales of wool were sent by road running alongside the railway.
Mr Dewar contended that they should be careful in this matter, for if they went in for in-judicious reduction, they would only be benefiting the people in the towns, and those in the country would have to pay the piper.
Mr Pharazyn, as a director of the Manawatu railway, had some practical experience in the matter of freights. He did not think there was much room for reduction. With reference to charges for short distances, it was impossible for the railways to compete with carts, as in the latter case there was only one handling. The question of the charges for carrying artificial manures came before his board, when it was found that they were carried at a loss. If there was a loss on the Government lines it must be borne by somebody. There were some questions of detail which might be gone into, and brought under the notice of the Commissioners.
Mr Buchanan believed it would be well if they confined themselves to concrete facts. Since the time the Railway Commissioners were appointed, reductions had been made in mostly on every article carried on the railways. He believed there was room for reduction in the carriage of store sheep and cattle, but he was assured that the limit in lime was reached.
Mr Grigg contended that more economy could be practised in the distribution of trucks for the carrying of sheep and cattle. He thought it would be well for the Commissioners to experiment for a time, and if it did not pay they could return to the old charges. Another matter which should be remembered was chat sheep that were driven for long distances shrank from 3lb to 4lb in weight, which was an indirect disadvantage to the country.
Mr McDonald said, in reference to the carrying of lime, it was well known that in some districts they could not grow wheat without lime, therefore it would be wise to encourage its use by carrying it at a low rate.
After some remarks from other members, the resolution was carried.
Mr Buchanan then moved, "That a deputation consisting of Messrs Pattullo, Wilson, Reynolds, Grigg, Borrie, C. N. Orbell and the mover wait on the Commissioners of Railways, and give practical effect to the foregoing resolutions."
The resolution was seconded by Mr Bradey, and agreed to.