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Extension of Southern and Western
The commission appointed to enquire into the best means of connecting the Southern and Western Railway with navigable water, met at the Colonial Secretary's Office yesterday after, noon. . All the membors of the commission were present.
Mr. W. Coote was tho only witness examined on this, occasion. Ho stated that he was woll acquainted with the country between Oxley and Brisbane, and had gono ovor it with a view of satisfying himself as to the respective merits of the route proposed by Mr. Fitzgibbon, and that by Mr. Thornelou Smith, In the first placo, ho had had to considor tho question of cost as laid down by tho different engineers. He found that Mr. Fitzgibbon, whoso plaus had since been lost, had estimated the total cost of tho line from Ipswich to the Alice-street Ferry, South Bris bano, at £291,000 for 23 miles ; in that estimate was'included £25,000 or £30,000 for land tobe purchased,and£15,000forwharfageand buildings which would be required al tLe terminal station (in all, Bay, £40,000 ;) leaving£250,000 asthecost of actual construction ; this waa in 1S62 or 1803, but in 1807 he proposed to deduct 15 por cent, on account of a fall in prices, which would bring the estimate down to £204,500 ; this would bo found in the evidence appended to the progress repoit of tho Soloct Committee of the Legislative Assembly in 1868. Mr. Thorneloe Smith after- wards niado surveys of the liuo on different gradients, altering those of Mr. Fitzgibbon, and reduoing tho cost to £106,000 on a gradiout of 1 in 00, or, on his favorite survey of 1 in 50, to £154,000, which was a very considerable reduc- tion in the mileage. Then Mr. Stanley reported on the line from South Brisbane to the Oxley bridge, estimatisg tho 7 milos 48 chains to coat £74,272, of which £14,000 might be deduoted for station works. Looking at these figures he could not help coming to the conclusion that the estimate given by Mr. Stanley the other day was exceedingly over-rated. Through the kiudness of the commission he had had an opportunity of looking over Mr. Stanley's sections from the junction to Wooloongabba, and it seemed to him that the gradients from beginning to end, had been altered so as to be very much easier at a greatly increased cost. When a line was said to have a ruliug gradient of 1 in 80 that was supposed to bo the gradient which ruled the whole Uno ; but out of six gradients he found that not more than a milo of line was at 1 in 80 ; the other gradients iu tho six were 1 in 330,1 in 120,1 in 152,1 in 264, and bo on. Of course, if an engineer wished to make a line costly, he could easily do so, if he made Buch easy grades. In looking over tho sections it had occurred to him that it was quite possible not only to reduce tho cost of tho earth- works by increasing tho gradients but also to get rid of a good deal of expense in the matter of land which would otherwise have to be purchased along tho line. He considered that tho gradients adopted on the existing line would bo equally suitable on the branch between Oxley and South Brisbane, and on the best por- tion of tho Southern and Western Railway, the ruling gradient was 1 in CO. There might also be a great deal of difference as to prices. Mr. M'llwraith, when Minister for Works, sent down to Victoria to get from tho Railway Department schedules showing the prices given to the various railway contractors constructing lines in that colony, and found that altogether, on the average, work was being done there for 40 per cent, less than Mr, Stanley had estimated it would cost here. Making this reduction, the line on the gradients then proposed by Mr. Stanley would cost but little more than £50,000 ; that was on the Victorian prices, but he took it that their rates ruled ours to a very great extent. Supposing the ruling gradient to be 1 iu 50, he had no doubt |that the line from Oxley to South Brisbane could be con- structed for much less than the sum named by Mr. Stanley. lu consultation with Mr. Daniel Williams some years ago, he had agreed that it would bo quite possiblo to construct the whole line from Oxley down to the Victoria Bridge, in- cluding stations and permanent way, at seven or eight thousand pounds per mile, and leave a large profit ; that was on the then existing sections. lie next came to the question of cost of land. Really the most valuable of the land which would be required for a line to River-terace would be that a little beyond Wooloongabba, not more than half a mile further up the Ipswich road. By having somowhat Bteeper gradients than those now proposed, and by utilising the Ipswich-road (and he supposed there was no objection to that seeiug that the Eugineer-in Chief proposed further on, to divert Stanley Btreet), the necessity for taking a large quantity of valuable property would be uvoided, and the line could be run at once into the Wooloongabba Water Reserve. Beyond the point where ha pro- posed to divert the line, there was no valuable property to pass through ; even upon a width of 66 feet, which waa monstrous for a three feet six inch gauge, he calculated that the amount of land required would bo about 35 acres, and from the junction to the proposed deviation, the value was uot more than £50 to £100 per acre on an average. There were in the books of references for this line some 300 references, and of these all above No. 62 might be dispensed with by stop- ping at River-terrace. The witness mentioned, in connection with the book of reference, that the house in which he lived was among those in the book, and his landlord was described as a person whom ho had never Been or' heard of, while a neighboring house was set down as un- occupied, although it had been in occupation six months before ho (Mr. CooEê) went to live in the neighborhood. What he wished particularly to draw attention to was, that by slight alterations in the gradient, which would not affect the work- ing expenses of the line, the purchase of a large amount of valuable property would be avoided, and the Government would bb in, a position to utilise roads not at present * used, and would bring the line out on to unalienated lands that might be employed to great ad- vantage for Government purposes. He thought the line should not be brought to South Brisbane unless at the expense of property owners. There was a long water frontage below the dry dock still in the hands of the Govern- ment, and which might be utilised. Between the water reserve at Wooloongabba and River terrace it would not be necessary to purchase any land whatever. The frontage could be made available at very small cost ; in point of fact it would not be necessary even to construct a wharf, besides which, by resuming the ground between Stanley-street and the road running to Kangaroo Point, a large amount of frontage would be obtained, which would at some future time, by sale or letting, go far towards repaying the whole cost of constructing the line ; he was fortified in this opinion by persons who had sold land in various directions, and he believed that, if the railway were carried out in the manner indicated, nearly £30,000 might be obtained for it even at the present time. As - water reserve, the Wooloongabba reserve was a nuisance, but it might bo utilised in Buch a way as to impait value to the whole of the property around, and ultimately pay the cost of the rail- way. As far as the rival routes were concerned, that to the Qubcii'b wharf appeared to be merely an experiment, und would nevertheless coat a large sum of money ; if the coal trade was any- thing like what it was supposed to be, it was worth permanent accommodation, and if the up country trade, such as wool and other produce, waa to be provided for at a cheaper rate, it would not be in tho neighborhood of the Queen's wharf. The other loutes appeared to involve heavy expenses on account of purchase of pro- perty, as well as various engineering diffi- culties. Ho had not paid much at- tention to them ; but the only one which appeared likely to come into competition with tho South Brisbane line was that to Bulimba ; it had the objection, however, that it was over three miles longer than the South Brisbane line, and involved a heavier outlay ; a matter of three miles would make a great difference on a line for carrying cool. He considered that there is no necessity to go outside the city boundary to accommodate the shipping of the port ; the whole river was one immense dock, if properly UBed, and why should not the trade ho concen- trated within the bounds of tho city ; his opinions on this subject were strengthened by those of several witnesses before the Wharfage Commission. If it were considered desirable to connect the north and south side, there was a narrow part of the river near the old powder magazine wheie a bridge might be erected with
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and it need not cost more than £50,000. In answer to questions from tho chairman, he said ho believed a, considerable portion of tho suburban traffic of the south side might be diverted to this line. As to the coal trade, it was the same as any other-the line must be constructed first, and then the trade would bo developed, not before ; there was a large quantity of land along the line which would
doubtless be UBcd for the erection of residences if the railway were built. Ho considered that for the purposes of the coal trade a lino in addi- tion to tho present one was needed ; he saw no necessity for reducing tho gradients on mineral lines ; on the Festiniog line tho gradient was 1 in 76, and though a very heavy mineral traffic was carried there, no diffi- culty was experienced ; it was merely a matter of speed. He believed tho cost of the South Briabano liuo as estimated by Mr. Stanley might be reducod by one-half. The Gippsland line, with a 4 foot 8J inch gauge, over rather difficult country, was built for about £0000 per mile, and anyone acquainted with Mr. Higginbotham would know that he was not easily satisfied. At the present time, ho believed, prices had a downwaid tendency. In answer to other members of _ the commission, he stated that tho land at River terrace would not need to bo excavated to any
great extent. Híb impression wob that where lines could bo got with working gradients at moderate cost they should be taken, with a viow of improving the gradient as tho traffic grows, instead of providing (as we had been doing) for
traffic that will not be realised for years to come. There were about five miles of unalienated river frontage within the city boundary, but the owners of most of the alieuated land would probably be glad to let it go at a moderato figuro.
Mr. Cootes' evidence having been closed, tho commission remained for private deliberation, the witness and representatives of the Presa withdrawing. So far as is known, no further
evidence is to be colled.