GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY.
PROPOSED EXTENSION. Third Rail Controversy.
Conflicting opinions regarding whether it would be practicable to provide a third rail to make the gauge 4ft. 8½in. on the proposed extension of the Great Western railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill (S.A.), were given by two engineers who were examined yesterday by the Federal Joint Public Works Committee.
Edward Henry Ballard, chief engineer of works in the Victorian railways said:—The third rail system has been generally con- demned by railway experts. In my opinion, it should not be adopted in this case. I suggest that the whole of the South Australia tralian railway system from Adelaide to Port Augusta should be converted to the 4ft. 8½in. gauge, or that a 4ft. 8½in. gauge line be constructed parallel with the existing
5ft. 3in. gauge, with a view to the
removal later of the wider line.
In answer to questions witness said:— There would he a danger of derailment if a third line were laid down, particularly when two of the rails would be only a few inches apart, and would offer lodgment for materials likely to cause obstruction.
Mr. Mackay (Q.), Chairman.—We have had engineers tell us that the third rail is a safe proposition.—I disagree with that view. I am an advocate of the principal of unification of gauges in Australia. I think that there is now a good opportunity to alter the South Australian gauge to 4ft. 8½in. Witness added that he thought it impossible to bolt a standard fish plate be- tween rails of a 5ft. 3in. and a 4ft 8½in. gauge.
Mr. Mackay.—But we have seen it demonstrated in Adelaide.
Witness.—Standard bolts could not have been used.
Ernest Henry Stanley, railway construct- ing engineer, said:—I had six years' experience
in the Argentina where there was a third rail between a gauge of 5ft. 6in. and one of 3ft. 6in. The length of the third rail was 4 miles, and heavy traffic was carried.
Mr Mackay.—Would you recommend the inauguration of a third rail here?
Witness.—I see no constructional difficulties in the way. I think that the third rail is only used to surmount a difficulty, such as you have here.
The committee will hear additional evidence this morning at 10 o'clock.