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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Vaile's Stage System of Railway Administration

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Vaile's Stage System of Railway Administration.

Note.—I trust I shall not be thought egotistical for publishing the following 'Opinions of the Press' and the brief history of the Railway Reform Movement. My object is merely to show that both in and out of Parliament the country has very generally expressed a wish that the new system of railway administration should be tried. The opposition comes from those who now control our railways, and who are deeply interested in maintaining the present position, and they unfortunately have always had the support of the various Ministries. It is quite certain they are not carrying out the almost universally expressed wish of the country in this matter. I feel profoundly grateful to the gentlemen of the Press for their kindly words of encouragement, which have often helped to spur me on and keep me at my task. What they have done for me may encourage some of our younger fellow citizens to take up and work out other great reforms.—S.V.

Opinions of the Press.

'If Mr. Vaile was in the position to put his theory to the test of practice, if he was in the place of a Vogel or some other great man, people would speak with bated breath of the boldness of conception and breadth of view in his proposal, and would call out—"It is the voice of a God, and not a man." But because he isn't,' etc.—"New Zealand Herald," 2nd November, 1883.

'Mr. Samuel Vaile is of the stuff that makes true reformers. He has found out that the railway system of the colony is radically bad. This is what many others have discovered before him, but Mr. Vaile, unlike the rest, has set himself to find out a remedy.'—"Waikato Times," 15th November, 1883.

'Mr. Vaile's system may not be perfect, but we venture to say that it commends itself to the public mind as deserving of the most careful consideration; and the benefits—material, social and moral—which such a reform would confer are simply beyond estimation.'—"New Zealand Herald," 16th November, 1883.

'Mr. Vaile's method of studying this great question is the correct method. . . . But it (his system) is good enough, most decidedly, to warrant a trial for a time on some given section of the railways.'—"Lyttelton Times," 8th January, 1884.

'It will be perfectly safe to say that whatever the Government may think of his proposals, they will undoubtedly meet with the approval of the travelling public.'—"Nelson Evening Mail," 25th January, 1884.

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'The writer makes out an exceptionally good case on behalf of his suggested reform.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," 29th January, 1884.

'We were aware that some classes of goods are charged extra rates on the Napier section, . . . but we frankly admit that until we read Mr. Vaile's letter we did not know how great the injustice is.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," 30th April, 1884.

'He has studied the question (railway administration) so thoroughly in all its bearings, that it is safe to say there are very few in the colony who have a more intimate knowledge of this subject than Mr. Vaile. He has pressed again and again for reforms in railway management, but the official ear is deaf on this subject. The studied coldness and neglect shown to Mr. Vaile by the railway official class has been such that any man of less determination would have been long since discouraged from pursuing investigation further. In Mr. Vaile they have one to deal with to whom such obstacles only add fresh determination to sift the question to the bottom.'—"New Zealand Herald," 25th July, 1884.

'Most people, we feel sure, will admit that they must now treat the problems discussed by Mr. Vaile as worthy of profound attention.'—"New Zealand Herald," 14th October, 1884.

'He urged that the concessions made were not sufficient to cause increased traffic to any appreciable extent, and he proved to be right. Mr. Vaile puts forward sufficiently strong arguments to justify the experiments.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," 10th March, 1885.

'He (Mr. Vaile) is rendering good service in promoting an active discussion on the points involved. On some of them he is clearly right.'—"New Zealand Times," 18th March, 1885.

'The very boldness of Mr. Vaile's scheme brings it under a shadow of suspicion. . . . If he must be called an enthusiast, he is an uncommonly cool and clear-headed one, and has come before the public armed at all points, and with perfect confidence in the scheme he has taken up'—"Southland Times." 25th March, 1885.

'It argues a very enthusiastic belief in his own theories, and no slight amount of public spirit, that a private individual like Mr. Vaile should take the trouble of travelling all over the colony, at his own expense, to instruct his fellow-colonists how to reform our railway system. He must be regarded as a man sincerely desirous to benefit the colony. We will confess that we are not satisfied with our present tariff, and that there is something attractive in Mr. Vaile's ideas.'—"Otago Daily Times," 30th March, 1885.

'This is at first sight enough to shake any ordinary person's belief in Mr. Vaile's sanity, but a strict attention to that gentleman's explanations soon impresses his hearers with the firm belief that, if he is mad on the subject of reduced railway fares, there is a very considerable amount of method in his madness . . . . . .We cannot refrain from expressing our admiration of his earnest and painstaking efforts to throw a light on a subject of which so little is known to the bulk of the people . . . . . . The people of the colony are deeply Mr. Vaile's debtors for the pains and expenses he has been at on their behalf.'—"Wanganui Herald," 9th April, 1885.

'A new spirit has been infused into the management, and whether the praise belongs to Mr. Vaile, or to Mr. Richardson, or to Mr. Maxwell, matters not so much to the general public.'—"Waikato Times," 16th April, 1885.

'There is no more ardent reformer in railway matters than Mr. Samuel Vaile, of Auckland. His reform is of a most radical character. He is not satisfied with little amendments here and there, but he strikes boldly into the open ocean of reform.'—"Taranaki Herald," 18th April, 1885.

'To Mr. Vaile belongs the honour of reducing his theories to a page 3 regular system, and whatever may be its merits, he can lay claim to the gratitude of the country for the thought and labour he has devoted to the subject, and for the sturdy persistency with which he has pursued it.'—"Waikato Times," 12th May, 1885.

'Mr. Vaile's scheme has now been before the country for some years, it has been canvassed and criticised, and the principle which underlies and sustains it has been acknowledged by many men of undoubted capacity, professional and commercial, to be sound.'—"Waikato Times," 23rd May, 1885.

'A trial will, we hope, be given to Mr. Vaile's scheme, notwithstanding the fears of the Colonial Treasurer as to a great falling off in the railway receipts. What is wanted is the means of making the railways of some real service to the colony, and this Mr. Vaile's proposals are calculated to obtain.'—"New Plymouth Daily News," 6th July, 1885.

'This much must be remembered in approaching the consideration of Mr. Vaile's suggested reform, that he deals with a question, the urgent necessity for reform in which is admitted from one end of New Zealand to the other; that, further, although not qualified by any special training to pass an authoritative opinion on the question, he yet possesses the important qualification of being a shrewd, keen, business man of long experience, who has for several years made the railway question in all its varying phases a subject of special study. Again, he is a man who, in the city in which he resides, is well known and highly respected, and who bears an unblemished character for integrity and uprightness. In his able and earnest efforts to improve the railway system of the colony, he has been entirely disinterested. Other than the public good he has had no purpose to serve or object to gain.'—"Wanganui Chronicle," 5th October, 1885.

'He (Mr. Vaile) has devoted an immense amount of earnest and intelligent attention to the matter, and many of his conclusions are supported by figures and facts which cannot be rebutted.'—"The Ashburton Guardian," 11th March, 1886.

'Mr. Vaile has shown to demonstration that the existing system is absurdly intricate, eminently unfair in many respects. . . . Among the many damaging statements regarding our system of railway management there is not one that is not fortified by figures taken from Government returns We cannot help thinking that Mr. Vaile has sounded a note in financial and economic railway management that will not be lost sight of.'—"Grey River Argus," 17th March, 1886.

'That indefatigable railway reformer (Mr. Samuel Vaile, of Auckland), undismayed by rebuffs from the highest official authorities, persists in his crusade against the existing system of railway management. No other man in the colony has ever, so far as we are aware, taken up a particular subject and pursued it for so great a length of time as Mr. Vaile has the one under notice . . . . . . Mr. Vaile has, unaided, done much, and at considerable cost to himself. He cannot be expected to do everything.'—"Southland News," 18th March, 1886.

'Mr. Vaile has established a case for the department to answer. An experiment might be tried on some part of our railway system, say, the portion centreing in Auckland. We consider Mr. Vaile's suggestions as valuable, and not to be pooh-poohed.'—"Dunedin Herald," 22nd March, 1886.

'If any reformer ever deserved to succeed, then success ought to follow the efforts of Mr. Samuel Vaile. Few men are possessed of the courage, to say nothing of the conspicuous industry which animates Mr. Vaile, an d no one can be actuated by less unselfish motives. . . . . .That he should so long have continued the fight single-handed, and almost without moral support, is little short of marvellous.'—"Waikato Times," 10th April, 1886.

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'We may not, perhaps, be educated up to accept the scheme of Mr. Vaile in its entirety, but the manner in which his proposals of railway reform have been treated by the Railway Department, despite the petitions sent down to Wellington, was an insult, not to Mr. Vaile alone, but to the whole of the people,'—"New Zealand Herald," 23rd April, 1886.

'The thanks of every intelligent colonist are due to Mr. Vaile for the arduous and thankless task he has undertaken in so public spirited a manner,'—"Grey River Argus," 1st May, 1886.

'In any case, Mr. Vaile deserves the thanks of the New Zealand public for having advocated, and ably advocated, a reform by which he believes he can fill the steam coaches of the state.'—"Hawera Star," 1st May, 1886.

'It is really shameful that this crying want, this question of railway reform, should have been allowed to stand aside so long; and as Mr. Vaile has given more pains to the study of the subject than anyone among us, we fancy the public will now insist on his proposals getting fair play.'—"N.Z. Herald," 26th June, 1886.

'Whether people agree with Mr. Samuel Vaile, or whether they differ from him altogether as to his views on Railway Reform, nobody can fail to respect the zeal, courage, and self sacrifice with which he has entered upon his crusade and is resolutely fighting it out . . . . . He is carrying on his earnest propagandism entirely at his own cost.'—"New Zealand Times," July 5th, 1886.

'The recommendations of the (Parliamentary) Committee do not favour the absolute application of the system to the railways of the colony as a whole, nevertheless, we do not hesitate to say that Mr. Vaile has achieved a great victory. He undertook a task of Herculean difficulty when he challenged to combat the consolidated phalanx of the whole railway management of the colony. He has sustained a prolonged combat with rare ability. . . . . Our surprise is great that he should have made out so good a case, and wrested from the Committee so remarkable admissions. . . . . But that Mr. Vaile has established, to the satisfaction of a Parliamentary Committee, the worthlessness of the existing system, and the propriety of having the suitableness of his system to the wants of the colony put to a practical test, is surely an achievement that no layman in these colonies has ever accomplished before in the face of interested official and professional prejudice and hostility.'—"New Zealand Herald," August 13th, 1886.

'Unquestionably the most important business referred to a select Committee was the question raised by Mr. Samuel Vaile, of Auckland, relative to the working of the New Zealand Government Railways. . . . . If Mr. Vaile's anticipations should be realised, the public benefit would be enormous. If not, then the loss to revenue would be no very serious matter. Mr. Vaile has carried on such an able and energetic propagandism of his views that it will be difficult now to satisfy the public unless the proposed experiment receives a fair trial.'—"New Zealand Times," 20th August, 1886.

'Assuredly it will not now be allowed to drop. Mr. Vaile is a man of much ability, and even more resolution and persistence. Now that he is fairly committed to this crusade, and has already secured a partial Parliamentary success, he is very unlikely to let it drop.'—"New Zealand Times," 23rd August, 1886.

'Mr. Vaile has been mocked and badly treated; every obstacle has been thrown in his way, and a man who has, at his own expense, done all he could to serve his fellow colonists, subjected to downright insult.'—"The Yeoman," 27th August, 1886.

'We are convinced that Mr. Vaile will yet be successful in a crusade which he has pursued with a disinterested and unflinching zeal that page 5 should command the respect, as we believe it will yet win the gratitude of the colony.'—"Evening Bell," 19th March, 1887.

'Mr. Vaile has undoubtedly done a public service by forcibly directing public attention to the fact that there exists a great need for improvement in our method of railway management.'—"New Zealand Herald," 9th April, 1887.

'Mr. Vaile has proved the soundness of his position as effectually as it could be done, through the agency of pen and ink.'—"Waikato Times," 12th April, 1887.

'That, however, Mr. Vaile's system has advocates among the leading statesmen of New Zealand will be seen from the speech of Sir George Grey, delivered on Thursday evening last.'—"Waikato Times," July 12th, 1887.

'Amongst those who are in favour of Vaile's system being tried are Sir George Grey, Sir William Fox, Mr. Ballance, and Major Atkinson, all men of the highest political standing.'—"Waikato News," 25th July, 1887.

'We know that he is earnest in the work he has undertaken and sincere in his desire to promote the welfare of his fellows. He has the courage of his opinions, and we have every confidence the movement, of which he is the head, will prove of incalculable benefit.'—"Feilding Star," 29th March, 1888.

'It would be well worth the while of the Government to give Mr. Vaile the management of a working section of any fifty or one hundred miles, No harm whatever could accrue.'—"Southland News," 25th June, 1888.

'We should like to see Mr. Vaile have the management of the railway line for a month or so.'—"Woodville Examiner," 27th July, 1888.

'A great deal of sympathy will be felt with the spirited proposal submitted by Mr. Vaile to the Government for the leasing of the Auckland railways for a limited period. . . . The proposal which Mr. Vaile has made meets the difficulty, if the difficulty is really a fear of the State suffering damage through the operation of the Vaile system in cheapening railway transit. . . . . We repeat that the reply of the Government to Mr. Vaile's proposal is mere subterfuge.'—"New Zealand Herald," 21st August, 1888.

'None the less will they (the Chamber of Commerce) do valuable service to the public by giving to Mr. Vaile every facility for the expression of the views at which he has arrived after an amount of labour and research almost unexampled on the part of any private individual in the colony in the consideration of a public question. . . . . . He has secured the public ear on the railway question, and anything coming from him will always be widely read and command due attention.'—"New Zealand Herald," 23rd January, 1889.

'Mr. Vaile may take credit to himself for having strongly influenced the Railway Department in the direction of more liberal management.'—"Southland News," 25th February, 1889.

'It would be well worth the while of the Government to give Mr. Vaile the management of a working section of say 50 or 100 miles. It might happen that the result would demonstrate the expediency of transferring to Mr. Vaile the controlling power. He has certainly developed surprising aptitude for the investigation of matters pertaining to railway management.'—"Southland News," 25th June, 1889.

'We venture to say that in railway matters ex-departmental Mr. Samuel Vaile is the most popular gentleman in the colony. His followers number thousands, and generally, the public would desire to see his scheme brought to a practical test.'—"Railway Review," 2nd September, 1889.

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'Through the indomitable energy and patient persistence of Mr. Samuel Vaile, whose proposals for railway reform have, during the past three or four years, been frequently discussed both in and out of Parliament, a Railway Reform League has been formed in Auckland. . . . . . We learn from the "Morning Post" of 24th July last that the very system advocated by Mr. Vaile and the Auckland Railway Reform League is about to be put in operation in Hungary, where it is known as the "zone system." '—"Ashburton Guardian," 8th October, 1889.

'For years Mr. S. Vaile, of Auckland, who has made railways a special study, has been pointing out the evils of our system. His able advocacy and strong argument has gained many converts to his cause. He strongly denounced the Railway Commissioners, and he is proved to be in the right. The Commissioners are a dismal failure.'—"Woodville Examiner," 11th October, 1889.

'Mr. Samuel Vaile, of New Zealand, has intelligently and persistently, for many years past, contended for the very system now put in force on the Hungarian Railways.'—"Melbourne Evening Standard," 14th October, 1889.

'Some people laugh at Mr. Samuel Vaile, but though not a politician in the ordinary sense of the word, yet he is one of our most useful public men. He is what may be called a born reformer, and he could not have chosen a more appropriate field for his exertions than our railways. . . . During all the torpor that succeeded the anti-general election excitement, Mr. Vaile never ceased to lift his voice in behalf of the public. He saw at a glance what the unexpected development of the Railways Act meant, and he kept on trying to rouse the country to a sense of the evil that had been done.'—"Southland Times," 19th October, 1889.

'In other countries Mr. Vaile's proposal of uniform rates on the stage system is being considered on its merits, and is likely to receive a fair trial.'—"Yeoman," 4th December, 1889.

'No terrible consequences could possibly ensue from the adoption of the Vaile system, for even if it failed to realise the expectations of its propounder, the community as a whole would not suffer. It would simply exchange direct for indirect taxation, with the certainty that, by charging lower rates for long distances, the development of resources in the remote interior must be appreciably promoted.'—"Southland News," 7th February. 1890.

'The more Mr. Vaile's estimates are criticised, the more reasonable do they appear.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," 29th April, 1890.

'There is not at this moment a more notable man in New Zealand than Mr. Samuel Vaile, of Auckland. . . . The supreme object of his life, and that towards which he has been straining for many years, is, as everybody knows, the reform of our railway system. In this cause his labours have been abundant, and his zeal such as only a rooted conviction in the justice of his views could inspire. Mr. Vaile is possessed of a clear head, a large grasp of intellect, enlightened patriotic sentiment, and the indomitable courage of an Englishman. No man can read what he has written and refuse to endorse such an estimate of his character. He has proved his claim to these qualities by the way in which—first single-handed, and latterly as the chief actor in a great movement—he has maintained a steady resistance to the present method of railway administration, and has pressed his own remedy on the attention of the public. There are probably few men advocating a view so radical and revolutionary who, by mere theoretical argument, could have secured the position that Mr. Vaile has already attained.'—"Southland Times," 1st August, 1890.

'He relies on the increase of traffic to do more than indemnify him for this heroic lowering of rates, and his calculations have been made page 7 with great care, and seemingly without extravagance. . . . The assumptions on which Mr. Vaile founds his theory are neither wild nor visionary.'—"Southland Times," 12th August, 1890.

'For our part we should be glad to see the strongest possible impetus given to the development of all the resources of the colony by the adoption of Mr. Vaile's railway system.'—"Waipawa Mail," 2nd September, 1890.

'Mr. Samuel Vaile's persistency and ability have made deep impression on the public, and there is an early prospect of the railways of New Zealand being run on the stage system devised by that gentleman.'—"Observer," 13th September, 1890.

'Further, we believe that the time is not far distant when the Vaile system will be in force in New Zealand, and that out of its establishment will come great good.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," 25th October, 1890.

'The evidence thus afforded (by Hungary) is distinctly favourable to the principles embodied in what is known as Mr. Vaile's scheme, although it does not confirm the details of that scheme.—"Auckland Star," 15th December, 1890.

'Mr. Vaile's scheme seems only to have practically differed from the Hungarian in being less calculated to concentrate population in any chief city.'—"Sydney Daily Telegraph," 2nd February, 1891.

'Mr. Vaile's views on the subject are wide, philosophical and patriotic, while those of the Commissioners have never stretched beyond the inquiry—how much direct and immediate revenue can be extracted from the great instrument which they guide. . . . But there is no reason why Parliament, which has already been recommended by a committee to take the step, should not ordain a trial in some one district of Mr. Vaile's system, and so set the question at rest. We hope earnestly to see such a resolution taken in the course of next session.—"Southland Times," 28th May, 1891.

'And there can be no doubt that the application of some such system (as Vaile's) of railway changes must be made before the lands at a distance from the ports can be cultivated to advantage.'—"L, yttelton Times," 6th August, 1891.

'These (the Hungarian returns) are remarkable figures, and it is not surprising that, with all the facts that he has marshalled in support of his scheme, Mr. Vaile has converted to his views many who at one time thought him a hair-brained enthusiast.'—"Hawke's Bay Herald," nth August, 1892.

'There are, we are sure, very few in the community who will not concur in most of what was said at the gathering of citizens yesterday to make a presentation (service of plate) to Mr. S. Vaile. That gentleman had the courage to undertake a task that might have appalled the greatest and most powerful man that ever lived . . . . . But whatever opinion may be entertained as to the practicability of Mr. Vaile's proposals there can be no difference as to the large amount of labour and energy he has devoted to the subject, with the purest and most unselfish motives. The feeling on this subject was well expressed yesterday by Sir George Grey and Mr. H. Campbell.'—"New Zealand Herald," 17th March, 1893.

'Even men who differ from Mr. Vaile, touching his theory of railway management, will admit his work deserved at least recognition. . . . . We are further of opinion that his system is correct in theory, and capable of practical demonstration.'—"Thames Evening Star," 20th March, 1893.

'It reflects honour both on the people of Auckland and Mr Samuel Vaile, that the latter, a few weeks ago, was publicly presented with a handsome testimonial by his fellow citizens in recognition of his earnest page 8 and sustained efforts in the cause of railway reform. . . . . . .No one who is conversant with the controversy carried on by Mr. Vaile, and especially with the Parliamentary Committee report and evidence of 1886, can help admitting the ability with which Mr. Vaile has approached the subject. Many will admit that if he has not entirely succeeded in proving his case he has fallen very little short of doing so.'—"Christchurch Star," 14th April, 1893.

'We trust that Mr. Vaile and those who sympathise with him will push on in their agitation, and that Parliament will yet be induced to give the new system a fair trial.'—"Ashburton Guardian," 6th June, 1893.

Opinions of Railway Experts.

'Auckland, 'Memorandum for Samuel Vaile, Esq.

'With reference to the several discussions we have had with you upon the advisability of introducing throughout the New Zealand Railways, the low fares you have advocated, we beg to state that, after full and deep consideration, we are prepared to agree with you in respect of the following:—

'That the increase in the number of passenger fares taken would be three times as many as at present, or an increase of two hundred per cent, upon the present issue.

'That the average fare could not sink below one shilling.

'That the increased passenger traffic would not perceptibly increase the working expenses.

'Ridley William Moody,

'T. D. Edmonds,

'Jas. Stodart.'*

Opinion of Mr. William Conyers, C.E., formerly Commissioner South Island Railways.

In a long letter to me Mr. Conyers, whom at that time I had never seen, says,—'I agree with Messrs. Moody. Stodart, and Edmonds in their report on your system, and you may use my name to that effect. In answer to your first query, I am of opinion that the number of passenger fares would be three times the present number—that is, an increase of 200 percent. ("I wrote you this before, never having seen their report at the time.") 2. The average fare, which is now, including season tickets, and probably parcels, dogs, etc., only 2s. 3d., could not sink below one shilling. 3. Three passengers could be carried as cheaply as one.'

* Mr. Moody was for 17 years employed in various capacities on the Great Northern and other Engliash railways.

Mr. Edmonds was trained on the Great Western, England, and in this colony was chief clerk on the Hurunui-Bluf Section.

Mr. Stodart was for 21 years on the Great Western line (for a number of years in charge of the Swindon district); four years on the London, Chatham and Dover line, and five years on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India line.