THE BANE OF OUR RAILWAYS.
BREAK OF GAUGE. EVIDENCE BY RAILWAYS COMMISSIONER.
The Narrow-gauge Extension and Break- of-Gauge Commission sat at Parliament House on Friday afternoon. There were present:— The Commissioner of Public
Works (Hon. L. O'Loughlin, Chairman), Hon. A. Von Doussa. and Messrs. Heggaton, Anstey, Pflaum, and Jamieson. —Intolerable Complications.—- The Railways Commissioner (Mr. A. B. Moncrieff) presented the following statement :-- The proposal to extend the narrow - gauge lines from Balaklava to Adelaide and Port Adelaide, if the existing accommodation at the wharfs, sidings, and sheds is to be rendered available, involves the mixing of the gauges at those important terminal stations, and would produce a series of complications in working which would be intolerable. The carrying out of the suggestion is impracticable. Breaks of gauge are always serious hindrances to through traffic, and are admissable only on the grounds of saving in capital cost of new lines. The heavier the traffic the more objectionable will these obstructions be found, and the best railway policy requires the gradual pushing forward of the broad gauge, to leave an ever-lessening quantity of goods to be transferred, unless it is intended to substitute the narrow gauge, and so eliminate the broad. If breaks of gauge are found inconvenient, this can be no reason for inducing the far greater disadvantage of a mixture of two gauges. A source of considerable difficulty at Port Adelaide is the insufficient siding accommodation, not only in the goods yard, but more particularly at the wharfs and private stores. To lay down a third rail on those sidings and attempt to work mixed stock over them in a satisfactory manner is impossible, leaving out of consideration the cost to private owners of the new plant. Any wagon is liable to be consigned to any siding ; any engine used for shunting must find conditions in both stock and road which will admit of the work being done properly ; and therefore every truck and every engine must be capable of taking its place anywhere, and the bringing of the narrow gauge to Port Adelaide will involve an alteration to the buffing and draw gear of every item of rolling stock in South Australia. We now have a clear line of demarcation for the spheres of use for the broad and narrow gauge stock respectively, and any attempt to mix them universally would entail disaster in our working. —Gauges Should Not Be Mixed.— Railway customers are not charged any thing for transfer of goods or stock at break-of-gauge stations. There may occasionally be damage done in such transfer as in all other railway working, but it would pay the Government better to compensate the owner 100 times over than to run the risk of delay and inconvenience in mixing the gauges at the termini. The country to he south of Balaklava may require a railway, but this is quite another question, and one to be treated on its own merits. The proper junction for such a line would probably be found at Smithfield, but the gauge should be broad, as there would be no justification for introduction of another break of gauge at that place. The establishment of the abattoirs at Dry Creek, from whence the market must be supplied with live stock from both northern and southern lines, emphasizes in a most marked manner the undesirableness of mixing the gauges. The bringing of the narrow gauge to Adelaide will not obviate transfer at Terowie. It is very doubtful whether our customers would pay for the additional haulage round via Gladstone, no matter what they may now say, and the department cannot be expected to run extra mileage for nothing, while in any case the loss of time would be considerable in dealing with all consignments from the far north. The time occupied is already too long. Supporters of the extension have urged that the carrying out of the suggested work would enable producers to more easily tap the markets of the world, and that the wheat shipments would be facilitated. With this conclusion I do not agree ; for, in the first instance, the cost of transfer is not charged to the producer; and. in the second place, no facilities which could be provided would overcome the difficulty of mixing the gauges at Port Adelaide ; and the cost of attempting to do so would be of greater disadvantage to the producers in this State as general taxpayers than any break of gauge which is at present in existence. It would also lead to greater loss of time than transfer does now and thus defeat one of the main objects sought. —Separate Terminal Stations.— If the narrow gauge must be brought from the north to Adelaide and Port Ade- laide the construction of entirely separate terminal stations at those two places is of necessity involved. These stations must be capable of handling all classes of traffic, and provide for the proper accommodation of all classes of rolling stock. At Port Adelaide there would further be involved the provision of separate wharf accommo- dation. The expense involved in any such arrangement justifies me in stating that such a scheme is not within the area of practical politics. No one can contend that there are no disadvantages in a break of gauge, and these can be cured only by unification. On the other hand there is no need to indulge in great exaggerations in regard to such disadvantages. It is acknowledged that the arrangements at some stations require improvement and enlarge ment, but there is no better transfer sta- tion in Australia than Terowie, and on close examination it will be found that the derogatory remarks made by various per- sons on this subject often are either en- tirely incorrect or only partially true. Statements have been made that the methods of transhipment at Hamley Bridge and Terowie are out of date. This I deny. They consist only of the usual means of carrying, harrowing, and lifting by crane, and this is merely a repetition of the ar- rangements of transfer from the carrier's wagon to the railway truck. The proof that they are not ineffective is that the expense of transhipping goods only averages 4d. per ton, and the cost of transferring live stock only 7d. per van. I acknowledge that Hamley Bridge has at times been overtaxed, and it has been admitted on all hands that extension of the appliances at that station is necessary if transfer busi- ness there is to be continued. The allegation in regard to lambs suffering in transfer at Hamley Bridge owing to leg weariness after a long journey has little foundation. The average haul for this class of stock does not exceed 50 miles before reaching that station, and it is not at all clear that the transfer does not improve their comfort in travelling for the balance of the journey. While no per- son who understands railway working would attempt to minimise the disadvantages of a break of gauge yet it is not right that in deal- ing with the question those difficulties should be extravagantly magnified. Taking the two subjects in conjunction, the policy recommended is as follows :— (a) Give the Mallala country a railway, if necessary, but it should be on the broad gauge, (b) 1. If this is done, build a transfer station at Balaklava capable of extension, to deal with the traffic till the time arrives for carrying the broad gauge over the western system. 2. If this is not done, remodel Hamley Bridge Station, giving the necessary accommodation, (c) The one thing to be avoided at all hazards and at all costs, is the extension of the narrow gauge southwards. —Broad Gauge to Balaklava Recommended.- The Chairman— You admit that difficulty is experienced in dealing with the transfer of goods and live stock at Hamley Bridge under existing conditions ?— Yes. We have had to transfer as much as 3,000 tons a week, not including live stock, and the accommodation is not sufficient. What do you suggest for overcoming the difficulty?— There are three methods. The first and apparently the simplest is to improve the Hamley Bridge Station, to render it capable of dealing with the whole of the traffic likely to arise on the western system. This will cost say £35,000. With this done, the last word will have been said with regard to Hamley Bridge, the site being unsuitable for further extension. If carried out capital would be expended to improve the present arrangements, and there would be no further income or saving, so that it would be direct loss to the gene- ral taxpayer. The second is to take a branch line from Smithfield through the country between the existing broad-gauge ajnd the sea to Balaklava. This was con- sidered, with a view to serving the country in question, and if possible securing inte- rest on any outlay that might be involved in shortening the distance between Bala- klava and Port Adelaide. This would in- volve placing a break-of-gauge station at Balaklava. The cost of such a railway from
Smithfield to Balaklava, and a new break- of-gauge station at the lastnamed place would be £200,000. Such a line, however, could not be recommended, as it would not even pay working expenses. It would eli- minate the Hamley Bridge transfer station, but is not the most economical arrangement which could be made. The third is the old idea of continuing the broad-gauge from Hamley Bridge to Balaklava, and plac- ing transfer appliances there. If this were done, and the loco, running sheds and shops at Port Wakefield were removed to centre the work at Balaklava, the saving would pay interest on capital, and leave a con- siderable profit. My suggestion, therefore, is that the best arrangement for overcom- ing the congestion of traffic at Hamley Bridge is to widen the gauge to Balaklava, and remove the transfer and loco arrangements to that place. The only thing mili- tating against this proposal is that the dis- tance between Adelaide and Balaklava would not be shortened, which would be desir- able if Adelaide is to receive the fullest ad- vantage, and have the best route for the Western Australian line. Even then the saying of distance would be only seven miles. I can suggest no other alternative as reasonable. —Distances and Rates.— Witness said the distance from Bala- klava to Port Adelaide via Dry Creek, by JJKK the existing line was 65 miles, and to the Outer Harbour, 6} miles extra, while the route examined between Balaklava and Port Adelaide was 57J miles, The rates for the existing and the new mileage re spectively would be:— Miscellaneous, 5/5, 4/10; grain, 7/1, 6/8; A., 8/7, 8/; B. 11/4, 10/5; C. 15/8, H/2; 1, 21/1, 19/; 2, 27/7, 24/11; 3, 34/7. 31/3. For live stock from Balaklava to Dry Creek the rates would be 35/7 and 30/11 per van. Only a few minutes would be saved in the journey to Port Pirie by the proposed narrow-gauge route. In view of the fact that the price of wheat is Id. per bushel lower at Wallaroo than at Port Adelaide, and in view of the avoid ance of the break-of-gauge, is it likely that the proposed narrow-gauge line would re sult in Port Adelaide drawing wheat that now goes to Wallaroo or to Port Wake field, where the price is 2d. below the Port Adelaide price?— Probably it would draw some of the trade; but such traffic has been considered and allowed for in my state ment of the working result of a broad or narrow-gauge line for shortening the route, —No Advantage tp Broken Hill.— Witness said the distance between Port Adelaide and Broken Hill by tho existing railway was 332% miles. By the proposed narrow-gauge line it would be 34S miles. There might be some savins in time by forwardicg goods from the seaport to Broken Hill by the narrow ^Mee as com pzral with the present rout?, which in volved transhipment, but it would bo small. The time occupied in transfer would be avoided, but there would be a slightly greater distance to travel, and a uuch lo.igcr distance at a slower speed. Would the time saved, if any. together with the fact that there could be no damage in transhipment, compensate for the expense of the extra haulage, which j the Balaklava and Gladstone route would entail?— No, and it is not admitted that the damage which takes place in transfer is worthy of a moment's consideration. Witi;ess supplied the following particu lars of distances:— Bopleroo Centre to Hammond, 26 miles: Booleroo to Port Augusta, via Wil mington, 48&; Port Adelaide to Port Au eusta, via Mallala and Wilmington, 207; Port Adelaide to Quorn, via MuiUla, B- u leroo and Hammond, 204ii; Port Adelaide lo Quorn by existing line, 232vi : Port Ade laide to Port Augusta by existing line, 257%. —The Larger OutlooV. Assuming that the Western Australian line is to be constructed, what isayjug of ti'.na would there be between Ale'aVie nnd Port Augusta for mail trains on the nar row-gauge route via Mallala and Wilming tont as against the existing route via Te rowie and Orrorwi?— Very little saving— possibly half an hour What are the existing rates for the car riage of cattle and sheep between Quorn and Dry Creek, and what would be the j rates on the narrow-gauge line via Ham- j mond, Booleroo Centre, and Mallala?—' Quorn to Dry Creek (223 miles). £5 13/8 per van; via Hammond, Booleroo, and Mal lala (214 miles), £5 8/10 ]*r van. The General Traffic Manager estimates that on the narrow-gauge route the stock would be in the trucks for two and a half hours less than at present; but I am convinced that the stock would he much more in jured by the additional length of run than it is now. It is beyond question that stock is not injured m transfer, although frequently dead sheep are found in trucks at the break of gauge , Witness said the rates charged for goods between Quoin and Port Adelaide (233 miles), and the rates that would be charged on the new line (206 miles) were: —Miscellaneous, 14/11, 13/10; grain, 14/4, 13/2; A,, lff/10. 18/2; B., 20/9, 24/6; C, 44/6, 40/6; 1, 63/8, 57/7; 2, 83/11, 75/10; 3. 110/, 100/1. —Advantages of the Broad Gauge.— Would the extension of the narrow gauge to Adelaide enable you to use your rolling stock to better advantage, and would trucks be released more speedily?— The answer to that depends upon what accom modation would be provided for the nar row gauge at Adelaide The rolling stock would not be used to better advantage than at present Besides, a mixed gauge would lead to confusion, and trucks would not be released so speedily as they are at present Seeing that you advocate the gradual ex tension of the broad gauge northwards, will you enumerate the advantages of broad-gauge railways over narrow gauge? — (1) Greater possibilities as regards speed. (2) Increased capacity on account of larger vehicle and greater tractive power of en gines. (3) Much greater comfort and con venience to passengers. Is it not a fact that the speed of a train is dependent more on the weight of the rails and the strength of the en gine than on the gauge of the railway?— In practical working this is not so. No matter what weight of rail is adopted, or what the strength of the engine, as the gauge is reduced the speed must fall. Should Parliament be asked to approve of a railway from Port Angusta to the Western Australian border, on wliat gauge would you recommend that it should be constructed?— There shouki be no break of gauge between Kalgoorlie and Albury. That means the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. Would the Bame apply to the extension of tbe Oodnadatta line?— No. Before I would recommend the gauge of that line I should want to know what had been decided in connection with the country and the railway generally —Limitations of Main North line.— ?Is it a fact that apart from the diffi culties in the Hamley Bridge yard the traf fic between Adelaide and Hamley Bridge is congested?— Yes; occasionally, and doub ling as far as Roseworthy has been recom mended by the officers. Further than that
the saving' to be made by the improved working, on the western system will be sufficient to pay interest on the cost of this work whenever it becomes neces sary. ?—Big Figures Involved.— Will you supply an estimate of the cost of constructing a line from Balaklava via Mallala, Dry Creek, and Port Adelaide to the Outer Harbour on the narrow gauge, and from Balaklava via Mallala to Dry Creek on the broad gauge?— 1. 3 ft. 6 in. gauge from Balaklava to Port Adelaide, £258,000; extension to Outer Harbour (main line only), £110,000; total to Outer Harbour, £368,000. No provision is in cluded for a narrow gauge depot at Port Adelaide, mixing the gauge in the Poit streets, and on the wharfs, or at the Outer Harbour; length 65 miles 60 chains. '.'? 5 ft. 3 in. gauge from Balaklava to Smltli field, £260,000; doubling existing main lino from Smithfield to Dry Creek, £52,000; total, £312,000; length 61. miles 60 chains. In a letter the Chief Engineer for Railways states thai the estimate of £363,000 does not include provision for a narrow gauge depot at Port Adelaide, nor for additional wharf accommodation at the Outer Har bour or its sidings. The estimate has been based upon the adorkiub of a route through Port Adelaide, which would allow the es tablishment of the existing railway reserve near the Port Dock. Such a depot would cost at least £100,000 to £120,000. The ex tension thence to the Outer Harbour would be carried by overway bridges over the Port Station yard. Lipsori street, and Com mercial road, and then follow the route of the new line to Largs. It would be im possible to work a mixed gauge through possible to work a mixed gauge through the streets, or on the existing wharfs at Port Adelaide, and traffic arriving at the narrow gauge depot would have to be carted from the depot. At the Outer Harbour, where there is plenty of room for expansion, .' separate wharf could be constructed for narrow gauge traffic. An extension of the existing. wharf for 700 feet, with the nccs sary lengthening of the swing berth, was estimated last year at £89.000. The cost of the broadpauge railway from Balaklava to Dry Creek via Smithfield (£312,00m would be exclusive of a break of gaugi1 transfer station at Balaldava. These esti mates are based on an examination of the country between Smithfield and Balaklava by a surveyor, and are approximate. The extension ofthe narrow gauge lines froni Port Adelaide to the Outer Harbour would involve considerable interference to pro perty, and would need careful considera tion before the exact route could be fixed, and an accurate estimate made. —Narrow Gauge Extension Not Jastified.— Appart from the question of the exten sion of the narrow gauge to which you are opposed, do you think the construction of a line southwards from Balaklava would lie justified by the amount of traffic it would receive which does not now go over any railway?— (Standing on its own merits, such a line would not be justifiable. Would it not be possible to avoid the mixing of gauges by having separate sta tions for narrow and broad gauge lines?— Yes; but the conditions do not exist in South Australia which would justify any railway manage in incurring the conse quent expense, either of construction or working. Po you know of any place where evi dence can be obtained as to the evils aris ing from mixing of gauges at a shipping pert?— Yes; at Colmar, a river port on the Rhine, in Alsace-Lorraine. I know of no Other. Mr. Pflaum— That is a Email place. Witness added that the Chief Mechanical Engineer estimated that if the transfer station was removed from Hamley Bridge to Balaklava the loco, department woult save one train daily between Adelaide and Balaklava— equal to £2,601 a veai\ If the Port Wakefield running sheds were re moved to Balaklava .£300 now spent in lodging and travelling allowance between Port Wakefield and Hamley Bridge, through the depot being so far away from the terminal station, would be saved. If the loco depot was centred there instead of at WakefieH and Hamley, the running arrangements would be remodelled, and would result in the saving of light engine mileaTe, long hours of men on doty, and lodging and overtime to the extent of about £2,090 a year. The saving would thus be £5,000, in addition to a traffic wing of £800. Witness, said a broad-gauge line could be run from Wasleys via Mallala to Long Plains, a distance of 25 miles, for £118,000. He would like further time to consider the probable revenue from such a line. In New Zealand movable truck bodies are used?— We tried them at Terowie, and had to take them out again. —Foster Service to Port Pirie.— Witness stated that in the event of a connection with the Western Australian system at Port Augusta the distance of the northern seaport from Adelaide would be 209½ miles, via Brinkworth, Crystal Brook, and Ports Pirie and Germein, and 250¼ miles by the existing line. By way of Hor- rocks's Pass, Wilmington, and Booleroo, Centre it would be 216¼. A line past Ports Germein and Pirie would be on level country, the working would be cheaper, and the grades would be better, as it would nave lifting the trains over the range at Wilmington. If the system was to be con- nected with the Western Australian line it would be best to go via Pirie and Germein, and give that part of the country a better service, which was urgently needed, to the city. The Railways Commissioner will be further examined at the next meeting of the Commission. Snails are collected on the Kentish pastures every year in large quantities and dispatched to Paris.