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THE SOUTHPORT RAILWAY.
THE OPENING CEREMONIES.
The formal opening for traffic of the railway extension to Southport, which has just been completed, took place yesterday, and was the occasion of a very large number of people visiting this pretty seaside resort. Two special trains left Stanley-street station during the morning, and though both were unusually long ones, they were crowded with passengers. Many persons availed themselves of the oppor- tunity to spend a holiday, and picnickers formed the majority of the excursionists. A special train, conveying the Minister for Rail- ways and a number of railway officials and members of Parliament, left the Roma-street station at 9.40 a.m., and reached Southport at a quarter to 1, the other trains having arrived previously. Amongst those who travelled by
the Ministerial train were the Hon. HM. Nelson, Minister for Railways ; the Hon. A. J. Thynne, Minister of Justice ; Mr. HC. Stan- ley, Chief Engineer; Mr. J. F. Thallon, Traffic Manager; E. Deighton, the Hon. J. C. Heuss- ler, M.L.C., Messrs. Wm. Stephens, Paul, Agnew, Gannon, Crombie, Towers, Glassey, Battersby, North, G. Grimes, Plunkett, and Watson, M.M.L.A., the Mayor of Brisbane, Mr. R. Southall, Alderman Hipwood, and a number of other gentlemen, including Messrs. C. H. .Buzacott and the Rev. G. Woolnough. Mr. Luya, M.L.A., travelled by one of the earlier trains, and Mr. Allan, M.L. A., who is at present residing at Southport, formed one of the party whilst there. Major Lyster was also one of the party which met the Ministers at Southport. The trip down was very much enjoyed, though the weather was terribly hot, and the various costly works on the new line from Beenleigh to Southport were inspected with interest. Upon arrival at Southport there were several hundred people waiting to welcome the Ministerial party, but the majority of the visitors, of whom there could not have been less than 500 or 600, spread themselves out along the various reaches and other resorts, and employed themselves in picnicking.
The station was extensively decorated with flags and green bushes, and over the main entrance to the station-yard was an arch of green bushes, with a cross of flags, and sur- mounted by many-coloured bunting, bearing the word "Welcome" displayed on canvas.
Mr. W. C. WELSH, chairman of tho South- port Divisional Board, read a short address to the Minister on the railway platform, thanking him on behalf of the district for countenancing the opening of their railway, and expressing the hope that he would find that everything had been carried out to his
satisfaction. He then asked Mr. Nelson to
formally declare the railway open for traffic.
Mr. Nelson, in reply, said that it gave him very great pleasure to be present, as having been so long- connected with Southport it was very appropriate that it should be his duty to be present on this very auspicious occasion. It pleased him very much to be able to say that the railway was in that forward state that it would be opened for public traffic on the fol- lowing day. He thanked them heartily for the address they had presented him with, and he joined with them in the anticipation they had formed with regard to the amount of benefit the line would do to the district. After a few more words, Mr. Nelson stated that he had much pleasure in declaring' this new line of railway open for public traffic.
The announcement was received with cheers, and three cheers were also given for the Minis- ter. The Headquarters Band, which was present, struck up the National Anthem, and the Southport contingent of tho Defence Force, under Captain Lather and Lieutenant Bailey, formed a guard of honour as the Minister left the station yard. The Ministerial party were then driven round Southport, aud shown some of the principal objects of interest in the place ; and at 2 o'clock they were entertained at a banquet in the School of Arts.
The attendance was large, and rather taxed the resources of the hall. Mr. W. C. YVolsh, as chairman of the Southport Divisional Board, and chairman of the local committee which had the arrangement of the ceremonies, occupied
the chair, having on his right hand the Hon,
H. M. Nelson, and on his left the Hon. A. J. Thynne. Full justice having been done to the excellent repast provided,
The usual loyal toasts were drunk.
Mr. P. J. M'NAMARA then proposed the toast of the " Ministry." (Cheers.) He said he was sorry to see so few members of the Ministry present. He would have been glad to see the whole of the Ministry present, as it was the intention of the residents to have unfolded a little programme of local requirements. (Laughter.) However, he was very glad to see the Minister for Railways present on this occasion, because the railway policy was a matter of material interest to every colonist, and one affecting the prosperity of the whole colony. One of the particular features of the policy of the present Government was what he would call a reform in railway policy, and their central idea, so far as he could make out, was to free the railways from political influence and carry them on on strictly commercial principles. That was the proper way, he considered, to look at the question. It ' was the system of log-rolling and constructing political railways that had brought the lines of the colony into their present con- dition. However, referring to the particular line the opening of which they had come down to celebrate, he thought that it would not stop at Southport, but would be carried on to the Tweed River, and secure a considerable amount of trade from that portion of New South Wales. It was time that an agitation was going on in that district for separation from New South Wales and junction to Queensland, in order that the residents might have the benefit of this railway. That showed that there were more than purely local interests con- nected with this railway. There was also another aspect of the matter. By a little expenditure of money and a little engineering skill they could shorten the distance by sea to Brisbane by eight or nine hours. The construction of a breakwater, to enable large steamers to come into Southport, would be an engineering feat that would not be regarded as one of any serious difficulty ; and there was an excellent natural channel, which could be dredged and always kept clear by the tide. Instead, then, of having a train come in occasionally with a dozen or two passengers, Southport would be a port of entry, and have all the shipping trade. Tho Government might, too, be called upon to make a double line to Southport. (Cheers.) He hoped, in conclusion, that the attempt the Government were making to work the railways on commercial principles would be successful to enable the resources of the country to be developed, which was the primary object of every railway. It was a great misfortune in the past that instead of making the railways as national highways, answering the same purpose as rivers, &c., they had been looked upon as a distant means of obtaining revenue (Cheers.)
The toast was drunk with musical honours and loud cheers.
Mr. NELSON, on rising to respond, was received with loud cheers. He returned thanks for the kind expression of opinion which had been given in favour of the present Ministry, and said that he felt as Minister for Railways that there was a very heavy responsibility placed
on his shoulders. There was no doubt that the
Railway Department was a very important part of the administration of the country, and he fully appreciated the grave responsibility which rested on his shoulders in having charge of this most important department. He had en- deavoured while in office to conduct the busi- ness of his department so that it would conduce to the benefit of the whole country, and not to that of any particular portion of the com- munity. (Cheers.) It gave him great pleasure to be in what he looked upon as bound to be a most important centre of population. He could claim for himself that he was one of the first to appreciate the merits that the locality possessed as a seaside resort. It was about twelve years ago that he had first visited Southport, and he had been a frequent visitor ever since. It therefore gave him great pleasure to be there to open a railway which ten or twelve years ago no one had dreamed of. The new railway, as they knew, was one of the best in the colony. (Hear, hear.) It was constructed from Been- leigh to Southport as a first-class line, and
there was not a better-constructed railway in any part of the colony. It had been laid down in the best style adopted up to the present, ballasted up to the full amount, and laid with the heaviest rails they had on any railway in the colony. (Hear, hear.) This had been done in view of the large passenger traffic from this future centre of population. Where the pas- senger traffic was likely to be the main source of revenue, speed became an important element. Without a well-constructed line speed was not possible. He regretted that the line from Beenleigh to Brisbane had not been constructed with the view of carrying the amount of traffic it appeared that it would now be required to carry. He had no doubt, however, that as the traffic developed, the line would be constructed as a first-class one from Beenleigh right through to Brisbane. (Cheers.) A great many complaints had been made as to the time which had been laid out on the time-table for the trains to travel from Brisbane to South- port, but he begged them all to remember that the line was only a new one, and it required some time to be properly tested. The line had not been properly tested yet by any heavy amount of traffic, and if they would place themselves in his position, or in that of the Chief Engineer, they would agree that it would not be wise to start at the very outside with the highest speed that could be attained. (Hear, hear.) When the line had been properly consolidated he could hold out hopes that the time would be very much reduced. (Cheers.) With regard to the fares, the fares on every railway in the colony were regulated on one uniform basis, with certain exceptions. Those exceptions were on the railways that surrounded the metropolis, and were extended to Ipswich, Sandgate, and Beenleigh. So far as Beenleigh was concerned, they had an advantage that no one in the other districts of the colony had, and those who lived out in the Western portion of the colony had to pay much higher fares than they would be called on to pay to go to Brisbane from Southport. They had the advantage of an exceptional fare to Beenleigh, and if the traffic would warrant it, he could say that in a short time the Government would be able to make a reduction in respect to fares right through. (Cheers.) He would ask them to consider, as residents of Southport, property-holders, and caterers for the public, that they must not expect the Go- vernment to do everything ; the Government could only do a certain amount, and the people must bestir themselves and make the place attractive to the public. If they would do that he had not the slightest doubt that South- port would be one of the most popu- lous places in the colony. (Hear, hear.) It was not only the Brisbane people they would get, but those from the
Western districts, as they would come down in the winter months, when it was too cold in the high regions to be comfortable. If they would do that, and make the change of living such that artisans and persons of small income could come down without exceeding their ordinary expenditure, they would largely in- crease the number of visitors, and he could assure them that the Railway Department would be only too happy to back them up -- (cheers) -- by putting the fares as low as they possibly could. (Cheers.) He had been asked by a great many people where the terminus of this line was to be, and the most important deputation he had had, comprising residents from the whole of the district, had waited upon him in reference to the subject. He had promised to examine into the matter, and that he had done. He had promised afterwards that he would recommend the matter to his colleagues, and that he had done. Quite lately he had had the opportunity
of recommending to the Cabinet the extension
of the South Coast Railway to Melbourne street, and he was happy to announce that the Cabinet had unanimously agreed with his re- commendation. (Loud cheers.) They might now consider this extonsion as being part of the Government railwoy policy, and it only remained for the work to be sanctioned by Parliament. A great many considerations had induced him to make this recommendation. He believed it should be done for the benefit of the whole colony, not only for that of the district, and one of his principal reasons was that the amount of economy they would exercise by making that extension, would be sufficient before very long to pay the interest on the money required for its construc- tion. It would also conduce to the safety of the public, as the present dangerous crossings at Woolloongabba would be done away with. The present cramped-up terminus at Stanley-street, not permitting of any extension at all, would also be got rid of, and when the Cleveland line was opened, more accommodation would be absolutely necessary. He was thoroughly con- vinced that the time was ripe when the exten- sion would have to be carried out. (Cheers.) He had purposely confined himself to railway matters, but as there were several other impor- tant questions before the Government affecting Southport, he thought they would accept a word or two from his colleague, Mr. Thynne.
Mr. THYNNE (who was received with loud applause) returned thanks for himself and his absent colleagues. It was not from want of interest in the progress of the southern part of the colony that they were not present. At present the Ministers having charge of what he might call the active departments had to devote a great deal of time to the details of their work. Two of them were now gone, one to represent the colony on the Federal Council--(hear, hear) --and another to represent the colony on the Postal Conference in Melbourne. A third had gone to inspect certain works and lands which come under his department, and it was not reasonable to suppose that they could attend. He thought they would recognise the importance of removing
the railways entirely from political control. (Hear, hear.) They had now in operation a very successful system of local government, and he could only say that the removal of the rail- ways from political control or influence would be practically a continuation of the same prin- ciple under which the divisional board system was introduced into the colony. (Hear, hear.) It would tend very much to the parity of political life, and also to the cultivation amongst the people of the colony of a know- ledge of the principles of self-government, and if both these issues were well looked to, the affairs of the colony generally were not likely to fall into neglect. Referring to a remark made by Mr. M'Namara, he considered that members of Parliament would be elected in future, not for their capacity in getting roads, bridges, or railways, but for their ability and talent in being able to deal with questions affecting the general policy of tho whole colony -- (cheers)---and tho policy of the whole of the Australian colonies combined. (Renewed cheers.) These were the questions to which members of Parliament, and those who elected them, would have to devote their attention in future. A question which had been left him by his colleague to say something about was the one relating to fisheries, which was a very important one, and one that had been a great deal neglected. Some attention had been paid to it, but from a want of knowledge on the part of the general body of the people, the question had not received the atten- tion it should have done. He thought he might say that the Government had had the question under consideration for some little time, and had been in communication with a capital man, a specialist on the subject of fisheries, with a view to getting him to study the fisheries of the colony, following to some extent in the footsteps of the United States. (Cheers.) He looked forward to a very impor- tant improvement in the fisheries of the colony. He again returned thanks, and sat down
Mr. R. J. COTTELL proposed the toast of "The Parliament," which was drunk enthusias- tically, and responded to by Mr. PLUNKETT, M.L.A. for the district, and Mr. HEUSSLER, M.L.C. The toast of " The Opposition," pro- posed byMr. W. DOWNS, and responded to by Mr. S. GRIMES, M.L.A., was also drunk, as well as that of "The Commercial and Agricultural Interests," to which Mr. R. T. JOHNSTON responded.
The Headquarters Band played several selec- tions during the dinner, which terminated
before 1 o'clock.
The return journey was begun by the Ministerial train at 4.40 p.m., followed by the first of the two public trains at 4.50, and the other at 5.5 p.m. All were well filled with passengers. The first of the public trains was
delayed somewhat, through the action of some mischievous or thoughtless person who had turned on one of the brakes in the train. The train stopped two miles from Southport, and again at the Southport and Nerang Junction. The guard on each occasion went buck with the danger signal to stop the following train, until an engine could be brought forward to assist the delayed train. The second time the train stopped the cause of the interruption was ascertained and removed. At Coombabah Station the first public train again stopped for water, and the second again came in sight, but after this the journey was continued without further difficulty, and the trains both reached Woolloongabba within a few minutes of the time arranged.