ROSSTOWN JUNCTION RAIL-
In 1878 Parliament authorised Mr. Murray Ross to construct a line of railway from Elsternwick to Oakleigh, and he was allowed five years in which to complete the work. He compassed the distance in about five weeks, just as his right was about to expire, and the phantom-like combination of earth- work, iron, and wood which now covers the ground between the points named signifies his compliance with the terms of the act. At every place where a road crosses the route there is a break in the line, but even if it were a continuous work, some other word than "railway" must be applied to it as a description. In its present state it would be unsafe to travel the distance on a trolly—-a light locomotive would produce little short of chaos in a few minutes. The whole construction is a peculiarity, and, as an example of engineering, should be pre- served for the guidance of future promoters of private lines. Mr. Murray Ross has another bill before Parliament to amend the act of 1878 in some particulars, and to enable him to carry the line from Elsternwick through Elwood to the sea at St Kilda; and, as he has had some interviews with the Minister of Railways and the Premier in re- ference to his present and prospective rela- tions with the Government in connexion with the line, it was thought necessary to obtain an estimate of the cost from a competent engineer. An experienced and valued officer of the Railway department accordingly made a survey of the work on
Saturday, and a report from him on the sub- ject will be in the hands of Mr. Gillies in a few days. The line leaves the Brighton line a few hundred yards below the Elsternwick station, and passes in a comparatively straight direction towards the huge building at Ross- town, erected for beet sugar manufacture.
Beyond that point to Oakleigh, where the Gipps Land line is to be joined, there are some good curves, and the whole distance is about five miles. About midway the route is intersected by the Frankston line, and it is as to the manner in which the junction is to be effected that Mr Murray Ross and the Railway department have had fruitless negotiations. He wanted his rails to cross the Government line on the level, but the department objected, and in the bill now before the House it is understood that pro- vision is inserted to enable the difficulty to be surmounted. The work itself is remark- ably incomplete, and displays a charming dis- regard of the ordinary requirements in rail-
way construction. There is not an inch of ballast from one end to the other, the sleepers are old, and the rails the cast-off stock of the Government lines. For the greater part of the distance the permanent way consists of a slight earth formation laid on the natural surface of the ground, and in many places the top is so narrow that the sleepers project over the sides. There is one good-sized cutting at the back of the Caulfield racecourse, from which about 10,000 square yards of material have been removed, and about a mile and a half from Elsternwick is the only "bank"
worth speaking of. For the whole length there are two wooden culverts and one drain, but no ditches or gutters to preserve the earthwork from the destruction now progress- ing through the accumulation of large quan- tities of water. The sleepers, bad as they are, have been sparingly used. On regulation, well-
ballasted lines, the maximum interval between the timbers is about 3ft, if not less. On the Rosstown line there is a space of 12ft be- tween them, and the rails are only spiked to them alternately. The fish-plates which hold the rails together have four bolt-holes each, but only contain two bolts, and the spikes are only driven half home. If the line were to be made use of, everything but the earth and the gates would have to be removed, and then a very large expenditure would be necessary to make the work suitable for the reception of new sleepers and rails. Without reckoning the cost of the land, it is esti-
mated that the line cost something under £1,000 per mile.