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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Why the New System is Not Tried

Why the New System is Not Tried.

My readers will naturally say, if this new system is so good why does not the department adopt it at once? My reply is that the railway men dread its great simplicity. They know that its adoption means a deathblow to the railway rating expert. Again I ask my readers not to confuse him with the railway traffic expert; he is a very different class of man. This is he who has charge of our life and limbs, and the safe transport of our property, and to whom we are deeply indebted.

The railway rating expert is probably the greatest enemy of mankind that ever came into the world. He delights in mystery, and piles up complications, in order that he may work in secret and extract from the users of the great highways 'what the traffic will bear.' His great object is to popularise his railway, and 'pluck all the feathers he can from the goose without making it squeal.' So, as 'the goose squeals' he takes a halfpenny off here and puts a penny on there as 'the traffic will bear it': and thus he keeps up an eternal game of see-saw. To successfully work such a system requires great adepts, and hence their enormous power, their immense salaries. This system he can only work in secret, and hence he hates simplicity. It is only those who have carefully and laboriously studied the railway problem who can form the slightest conception of the power wielded by the railway rating expert. We need not go far for an illustration. Our Railway Commissioners have placed heavy differential rates against Oamaru, Timaru, and other ports. Their object is to destroy the trade of these ports as they page 52 have already destroyed our Waikato River traffic. What has and will be the result? The revenue of Oamaru, for instance, has been so seriously decreased that the Harbour Board has not been able to pay the interest due on its loans. How will this end? We already hear a talk of the General Government taking over all harbours and guaranteeing their loans. The result will be that