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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

A Complicated and Secret System

A Complicated and Secret System.

Another great objection to the present system is that it is a complicated and secret system which no one can understand, except by prolonged and careful study. This complication is neither a matter of accident nor necessity. It has been carefully, elaborately, and designedly built up for the purpose of confusing the public, and thus compelling the users of railways to 'inquire at the station for their rate,' in order that the owners and contractors may be able to extract from the users 'what the traffic will hear.'

My words may seem harsh, but they are literally true, as may be seen by a reference to Mr. J. P. Maxwell's report for 1884, the London Chamber of Commerce Journal, and the Royal Commissions of Great Britain, the American Commissions, the writings of Hudson, Ely, and numerous others. The whole present railway system has been cradled in fraud and reared in corruption, and there will be no real lasting progress in the world until it is entirely swept away. Since the establishment of our New Zealand Railway Commissioners our local complication has been very largely increased, and the thing called a tariff has swelled from forty-two to seventy-seven pages of foolscap folio. It is now utterly impossible to follow it, so frequent and complicated are the changes. The disadvantages to trade and commerce are enormous, for if producers and manufacturers cannot tell the cost of transit, how can they estimate the cost of production. It is this that prevents many small and some large industries from being started.

To show the complexity of the present 'abominable no system of railway,' as Professor R. T. Ely aptly calls it, I have only to quote our own New Zealand experience. Here is the thing which is called the