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THE MURRAY RIVER RAILWAY.  

MELBOURNE, CASTLEMAINE, AND

SANDHURST.

(FROM OUR OWN REPORTER.)

On Thursday last the first train passed along the line of the Murray River Railway, from Mel-  

bourne to Castlemaine, and Sandhurst, conveying the Commissioner of Railways, the engineer-in-     chief, and several representative members of the councils of those municipalities. Their mission   was to test the progress of the works. To-day a

special train will convey His Excellency the Governor, the members of the Ministry, and a large number of invited guests, from Spencer- street Station to Castlemaine, where it will be joined by a train from Bendigo, when His Excel- lency will formally declare the line open to Sand- hurst. At Castlemaine the important event will afterwards be celebrated by a public dinner, fol-

lowed by a ball in the evening, for which numerous invitations have been issued by the municipality, through the chairman of the council. On Monday next, the 20th instant, the traffic of the line   will commence, when Sandhurst will make her demonstration. Thus the most important instal-   ment of the railway works of the colony will be placed in possession of the state, and the   immeasurable facilities for traffic and intercourse which a railway affords will be offered to two of the most important gold fields of the colony.

The contract which thus draws rapidly towards completion involved an expenditure of nearly three millions and a half of money, and embraced     the construction of over a hundred miles of

main trunk line of railway, built in the most substantial manner. It contemplated the crossing of the dividing range at an altitude of 1,950   feet, within a distance of forty five miles from the sea level, it embraced the construction of two gigantic viaducts, with a very large number of small structures of the same kind , the formation of two tunnels—one through the Mount Alexander range and the other through the Big Hill, overlooking Kangaroo Flat, and a series   of heavy excavations and embankments.   While the magnitude of the contract, therefore, was unapproached before in any British colony which in the inauguration of such

an undertaking relied upon its own resources and credit, the character of the works places the line amongst the triumphs of railway engineering, and claims for the contractors who undertook to execute them, in the face of a labour-market so anomalous as that of Victoria, a rare spirit of enterprise, courage, and self-reliance. Through difficulties and discouragements that might have baulked the bravest, the task has been accomplished, and the events of this day may be said to crown the finished work. As our readers are aware, three portions of the Murray River line have been opened in succession for traffic. Sunbury was the first of the   temporary termini, the line having been rapidly carried across the plains of Keilor. Some time afterwards the heavy rock cutting and am- bankment at, and the splendid iron viaduct over, Jackson's Creek were finished, and trains were enabled to pass over the summit level as far as Woodend ; and in the course of the late winter the section between Woodend and Kyneton was completed. Those various exten- sions made fifty-three miles of the railway available for traffic, embracing some of the largest works and the most difficult gradients of the whole line. These, however, have already been described, and I pass on to sketch the more important features of that portion of the line, extending over forty-seven miles, over which the  

public will for the first time travel to-day,   premising that for some time to come the traffic   will be carried between Sandhurst and Kyneton over a single line of rails, the laying down of the second line having been deferred until the assistant of the locomotives could be called in, to carry   on the vast quantity of material necessary for the completion of the permanent way.

Leaving Kyneton on a gentle curve, the first work that presents itself to notice is the bridge over Boggy Creek—so called from the nature of the soil around a favourite camping-ground in the olden time. This bridge is a neat bluestone structure of one arch, of twenty feet span, and about the same height. Passing on towards Malmsbury, the line traverses on a descending     gradient a country of an undulating character, until it enters the valley of the Coliban, at Malmsbury, through a cutting of nearly 100,000 cubic yards. Here the level of the line is 1,490ft. above low water-mark in Hobson's Bay. At this point the works present many features which have interest, more especially for professional men. The River Coliban is crossed by a fine blue- stone viaduct of five arches, each of sixty foot span, and upwards of seventy foot in height. This is the largest viaduct built entirely of blue-

stone yet constructed in the colony, and viewed   from the Mount Alexander road it has an air of lightness and elegance presented by few structures built of the same materials. It was erected in a very short space of time, though sufficient to produce a political crisis, the foundation-stone having been laid by the Commissioner of Public Works, Mr. G. S. W. Horne, of one Administration shortly before he left office, and the keying   in of the last arch having been accomplished by the hands of Mr. Greeves, a member of the   succeeding Ministry. To and from the viaduct the railway is led over a high embankment across the valley, which absorbed upwards of 300,000 cubic yards of earth and stone, excavated from cuttings on both sides and ends. This was one of the heaviest works on the line, and assisted, with the facilities which the neighbourhood afforded for the quarrying of ballast and bluestone for the

Coliban and Taradale viaducts, and other struc-   tures, to render Malmsbury one of the great railway hives of industry during the progress of the works. The quarries, indeed, cover an im- mense extent of country, and produce a stone ad- mirably adapted for heavy works. Quite an army of labourers laboured here, and at one time up wards of a hundred horses were employed to assist them. Here, Mr. Enoch Chambers, who has

taken a sub-contract for breaking 50,000 cubic yards of ballast for the permanent way, is erecting extensive machinery for reducing blue- stone to the necessary gauge ; and the vast stacks of bluestone spalls already quarried and piled near the machines, embracing some 30,000 cubic yards of stone, afford a material guarantee that when the machines commence their work they will not lack for food. To carry this ballast along the line, Mr. Chambers has constructed a locomotive   engine of 50-horse power, which was placed upon the rails a few days ago. The great embankment across the valley of the Coliban, I may   remark in passing, is the backbone of the Coliban water scheme, which has been so much discussed of late. It is here Mr. Brady   proposes to construct his puddled wall, and dam back the storm-waters of the Coliban, for the supply of Castlemaine and Sandhurst during summer, when the natural watercourses are dry ; and the long brown flat to the left of the line is the land which he proposes to submerge under his artificial lake, to the extent of 270 acres. Passing on under the main road to Castlemaine, and through a series of rock cuttings, varying from twenty to thirty feet in depth, the valley of the Back Creek, at Taradale, is reached at one time a gold-field of some richness, and still haunted by a few Chinamen. The valley is of considerable depth, the main road descending into it from the basalt plain by a long and steep incline ; and the railway sweeps across it, over a viaduct of imposing character, at a level of 1,343ft. above the sea. It is composed of five spans of 130 feet each, and is of the great height of 120 feet. The piers and abutments are built of solid bluestone

masonry, the greater part of the stone for which   was brought from Malmsbury, partly by the main road, and partly by a tramway laid down for the purpose. The superstructure is composed of four main wrought-iron tubular continuous girders,

resting on expansion rollers, to meet the effect of atmospheric changes. Upon the main girders cross girders are fastened, to receive a close planked platform, by which the permanent way and the ballasting are carried. The viaduct is a plain substantial edifice, and its great magnitude gives it a boldness of effect not detracted from by the fineness of its proportions. Large as this work is, the foundation-stone was laid by Mr. Vincent Pyke only on the day in May of last year when his colleague in office ( Mr. Greeves) keyed in the Coliban bridge. The masonry has been carried on under the able superintendence of Mr. A. Kerr, as agent for the contractors, and the iron work has been erected by Mr. Chambers, under a   sub-contract, which he has carried out with ability   and energy. The quantity of masonry in the viaduct amounts to about 250,000 cubic feet, and the total weight of the ironwork is about 1,200   tons. The total number of rivets in the girders is 260,000. Leaving Taradale, the line rises through a number of cuttings of moderate depth

into the township of Elphinstone—the " Sawpit Gully" of olden times. From Elphinstone there is a long embankment, from 20ft to 30ft. in height. Adjoining it a large quantity of material   excavated from the tunnel, and not required for the railway, has been thrown to waste. The Elphinstone tunnel is 420 yards in length, and is lined with brickwork throughout. Its level is 1,410ft. above the tide mark. The material   traversed by the tunnel is hard compact rock, chiefly metamorphic sandstone, and was expensive to excavate. The lower heading was driven     through the whole length of the tunnel before the lining was commenced, and the excavation and brick lining were finished in June of last year. The fronts are rather tame and unmeaning in design, but like the rest of the works on the  

railway, they are substantially constructed.   the main road passes over the top of the tunnel, having been permanently diverted for about half-a mile to allow for the railway, which traverses the original course of the road, being constructed. The quantity of material, chiefly   rock, excavated from the tunnel and its approaches, amounted to 50,000 cubic yards The tunnel is on a curve of sixty chains, and a gradient of one in fifty. Emerging from the tunnel, the line passes through a very deep cutting, not far from which, at the point where the Fryerstown road branches off from the main road to Castlemaine, advantage has been taken of the nature of the ground to construct a reservoir, by placing a puddle wall in the embankment The quantity   of water that can be stored here amounts to 13,000,000 gallons, which will be available for the purposes of the railway. Escaping from the rock cutting, the line trends towards Wattle Fat,   on descending gradients of one in fifty and one in fifty nine, by a series of short cuttings and banks across the abrupt spurs that characterise the scenery in this locality. At Wattle Flat, there are two handsome brick arched bridges under the railway, for accommodating the road traffic Castlemaine is now approached, the railway traversing moderately heavy cuttings until it passes Messrs. Cornish and Bruce's foundry, and crosses over Campbell's Creek road by a  

handsome brick screw bridge, and over Forest Creek and the adjacent flat by a viaduct   and embankment half a mile long. The Forest Creek viaduct is an unpretending erection of brickwork, with wrought iron boiler plate super structure, with grey granite quoins, which contrast well with the red coloured bricks. It is forty feet in height, built on a skew of forty five degrees, and has three spans-two of fifty and one of seventy feet. The girders of this viaduct, as well as the ironwork of all the other bridges north wards of Castlemaine, were constructed at the foundry of Messrs. Cornish and Bruce, Castlemaine . Not far from this viaduct, the  

road leading to the Camp is crossed by a wrought-iron girder bridge of one span. A second   bridge was built a few chains further on, leading to Barker's Creek, but it was recently pulled down to make way for the station buildings, which are placed in the old bed of Barker's Creek,

the stream having been diverted to the west for   the purposes of the railway. The level of the line at this point is 917ft above low-water mark. Passing through the station, where a vast deal of work has yet to be done to fit it for traffic, the line follows for several miles the course of the creek, by a succession of somewhat heavy cuttings and embankments, intersected   by several brick and granite bridges, until it     approaches the township of Harcourt. Here it passes over the main road by a massive iron girder bridge on granite abutments, the road having been cut down some ten feet to afford sufficient headway under the bridge. Ten chains further on, the railway crosses Barker's Creek by a granite viaduct of three semi circular arches of thirty feet span, the height of the viaduct being forty feet. This structure, which in point of workmanship is equal to any building on the line, possesses a special feature of interest, having bean built throughout by German masons, brought from Europe by the contractors, Messrs. Cornish and Brue Leaving Harcourt, the line passes for many miles through a granite formation, which presented very serious obstacles to the carrying on of the works, not only from the character of tho country, but the expense and difficulty of making the cuttings, granite being much less easily excavated than bluestone. It would be interesting to know how many tons of blasting powder were used here and on other parts of the line from first to last in excavating and quarrying Judging from the remarks of the best able to form an opinion, the quantity cannot be less than 1,000 tons In the centre of this granite country, the line crosses the   Porcupine Range by a cutting forty five feet in depth, and half a mile in length, through solid granite, at a level of 1266 foot above the sea, or 349 feet above that of Castlemaine.   The quantity of material excavated   from this cutting was about 100,000 cube yards, and no part of tho works is more likely to impress the visitor with a sense of the magnitude         of the undertaking, the completion of which he has witnessed. The sub contractors to whom this part of tho line was entrusted were Messrs Leslie and Ross, who are now engaged on a sub-contract for breaking a large quantity of ballast required for boxing up tho permanent way They have erected very complete and extensive machinery, driven by steam power, for this purpose, judging from the   energetic manner in which they have carried out

their sub contract for the formation of the railway, it is probable the work could not be entrusted to bettor hands. Woodend and Lancefield supplied the ballast for the southern sections of the line, Malmsbury provides that required for the central portion, and the Porcupine and the Big Hill are looked to for that of the northern     sections. From this point to the Buckeye Creek the line presents few points of special interest.

It, traverses fine scenery, but a succession of granite cuttings mare the view. Buckeye Creek is crossed by a viaduct of three spans, the piers and abutments being of granite, and the super

structure of wrought, iron girders The height of the viaduct is thirty feet. Before us, about a mile distant, is the Big Hill range, pierced by a tunnel of the same length as that of   Mount Elphinstone This was a work of peculiar difficulty, however, the bore having been made through very heavy ground, which required a large amount of timbering to enable the lining of the tunnel to be built. This lining is of brick work in cement, with granite dressings, and fronts similar in material and design to those of Elphinstone tunnel. Their massiveness and air of strength relieve the poverty of the design This tunnel is the last great work of the line, and the visitor finds little in the railway itself, from thence onwards to Sandhurst, to excite his   interest. The tunnel in put in at a level of 1131   feet, and the descent from that point to   Sandhurst is considerable, the level of the station being 735 feet. Brick and granite road bridges succeed each other at intervals, and at length the

line enters on Kangaroo Flat, the head of the great and famous Bendigo gold-field.   The Flat was of surpassing richness in alluvial gold, and it has been washed down to the bed rock by puddlers. The railway crosses it at a level of only sixteen feet above the surface, or little more than twenty feet above the bed-rock, by a viaduct of five spans, built on a skew of forty-five degrees. The abutments and piers are of brickwork, with stone quoins, and the super structure is formed of four continuous longitudinal wrought-iron plate girders, on which rest cross-girders a yard apart, supporting the hardwood planking which receives the permanent way. The spans are sixty feet in tho clear, and the structure on the whole, although wanting in elevation for architectural effect, has an undoubtedly substantial appearance From Kangaroo Flat the line descends to toward the Sandhurst station through Adelaide   Gully, Maiden Gully, Golden Gully, Poverty Gully, Sheep's head Gully, Charcoal Gully, and Pennyweight Flat, all of which are provided with substantial brick culverts under tho railway. The road bridges along this portion of the line are built in brickwork, with stone quoins, and have a pleasing effect. The works between the Big Hill and Sandhurst, including the tunnel, have been very ably completed by Mr. McIlwraith, as sub-contractor. Mr. McIlwraith had previously, as agent for Messrs. Cornish and Bruce,   commenced and carried on almost the whole of the works between Castlemaine and Sandhurst.   The terminus at Sandhurst exhibits the same want of forwardness, as regards the progress of the buildings, as the other stations on the line, and, in common with them, appears to have been   commenced at much too late a period.

Those details will enable the excursionists of to-day to appreciate the character of the works over which they are travelling, and to estimate the daring of the Ministers who projected them, the capacity and skill of the engineers by whom they were planned, and the courage and   perseverance of the contractors by whom they were carried out. The credit of their inauguration is mainly due to two loading members of the then Cabinet-Messrs. O'shanassy and Duffy and, by a curious coincidence, those gentlemen hold the same position now as they did then, and will, probably, be present to-day to receive at the hands of the people of Castlemaine the credit they deserve, and to rejoice over the   completion of the line. Mr. Darbyshire planned and commenced the works, Mr. Higinbotham has finished them, and throughout their progress the interests of the Government have been ably cared for by the resident engineers. Messrs .Hull, Green, Knight, and McCarthy.   It is scarcely necessary to add that Messrs . Cornish and Bruce were the contractors, and that by the untimely death of Mr. Cornish, soon after the

contract was entered upon, a responsibility not   originally contemplated early fell upon Mr Bruce.

The occasion seems a fit one on which to review the whole history of the Victorian Railways, and place before the colony some connected     details, drawn from floating scraps of information

that have from time to time appeared in the     public journals, with regard to those great works, the property of the state, and on account of which we owe some £8,000,000 to English and   colonial creditors. Early in the year 1859, Mr, Duffy, then the President of the Board of Land and Works, issued advertisements, inviting tenders for the construction of the Melbourne and Sand hurst, Sandhurst and River Murray, and Geelong and Ballarat railways, in accordance with printed conditions and specifications prepared by   Mr Darbyshire. From the magnitude of the work compriard in these three contracts, there appeared little likelihood of any satisfactory tenders   being received for the whole or any of them. Government were impressed with this view, and took the precaution of dividing the railways into a   number of lengths called sections, for each of which separate tenders were invited. Thus the

Melbourne and Sandhurst Railway were divided into thirteen sections Sandhurst and River Murray into three sections, and the Geelong and   Ballarat into seven sections. Contractors were invited to tender for each or all of these sections, for each line of railway separately, and for the whole three lines of railway in one contract Although the construction of the railways   comprised in tho group for which the railway loan

was authorized by Parliament was thus thrown   open to public competition, it was not at the time anticipated generally that a greater portion of the works would be actually let than that   between Melbourne and Gisborne, a distance of about forty miles ; for the construction of forty miles of railway, involving the expenditure of three-quarters of a million of money, appeared as great an undertaking as the   labour market of the colony could satisfactorily carry on at one time, or as any one firm could handle. Tenders were, however, sent in; and on the 29th of March, of that year, they were opened in the presence of His Excellency the Governor and the Executive Council,   and before the several parties who had tendered. It may readily be surmised that there was considerable excitement on the occasion, There certainly was no want of competition.  

Altogether, 133 tenders were received by the Government, the greater number of which were for the separate sections into which the railway lines had been divided. The tenders were referred by the Executive Council to a   professional board for examination, when, after a very careful analysis of the whole, the board   reported that the tender of Messrs Cornish and Bruce was the lowest for the Melbourne and Sandhurst Railway, and those of Messrs Mussen and Co. for both the Sandhurst and River Murray and the Geelong and Ballarat Railways. They therefore suggested that Messrs, Cornish and Bruce's tender should be accepted for the Sandhurst line, Messrs Musson and Co for the Ballarat line, and that the construction of the line to the Murray, generally known as the Echuca line, should be deferred until the Sandhurst line was well forward towards completion.   The recommendation of tho Board was   approved by the President of the Board of Land and Works, and the contracts were let   accordingly. Messrs Musson and Co,   however, failed to take up that for the Geelong and Ballarat Railway, and that line, the history of which has already been recorded, was   readvertised, and let to other parties, by the   successors of whom-Messrs Williams and Co.-the work has been successfully completed.

It may fairly be assumed from the satisfactory completion of the Melbourne and Sandhurst   Railway, so far as the public interests are concerned a line, as I have already remarked, of a hundred miles in length-that the Government noted wisely in adopting the recommendation of the Board, and letting the whole of the work to Messrs, Cornish and Bruce, instead of letting it in thirteen separate sections to thirteen   contractors, the failure of any one of whom to carry out his engagements with the   Government would have delayed the opening of the whole line. But the advantage gained by this course is demonstrated by an examination of the tenders. Their offer for the whole   contract amounted to £3,356,937 2s 6d and the aggregate amount of their separate tenders for each of the sections was £3.860,506 8s 9d. The difference between these two amounts is £503,569 6s 7d , or upwards of thirteen per cent., which represents the sum at which they estimated the advantages of having the expenditure of the entire amount required for the construction of the   railway. The estimates of the engineer-in-chief

were as follow : -

For the Melbourne and Sandhurst  

Railway, if let in  

thirteen sections .£3,529,793 17 9 If in one contract . £3,176,814 0 0

Difference in favour of the latter  

course . £352,979 17 9     Messrs. "Cornish and Bruce's tender for the  

work, as I have already remarked, was as

follows :-

For the thirteen sections  

separately . £3.860,506 8

In one tender .£3,356,937 2

Differences in favour of one  

contract . £503,569 6 7

One sample of the other tenders sent in will suffice. It is that of Messrs. Bandle and   Holmes, who were backed by Sir M, Pete and Co., of London. They offered to do the work for a sum of £4,151,216 0s 1½d., or £794.278 18s 9d above the tender which was accepted. By this large sum, therefore-over three quarters of a million-the colony has gained, while the works have been executed in a manner unsurpassed elsewhere by works of similar character- and the engineer-in-chief has certified that the contract time has been kept in their conitrui lion as faithfully as could have been expected with a work of such magnitude, more especially when the anomalous circumstances affecting the labour market of the colony from time to time are taken into consideration. The work the contractors undertook to perform comprised, amongst other operations, the excavation of 4,900,000 cubic yards of material, of which upwards of 2,000,0oo cubic yards consisted of blasting in bluestone, granite, and other hard rock ; the breaking of 1,100.000 cubic yards of bluestone ballast ; the laying of 100 miles of double line of permanent way, involving the carriage for an   Average distance of fifty miles, of 40,000 tons of permanent way materials ; the erection of 69,000 rods of fencing, the clearing and partial grubbing of 2,500 acres of timbered     land ; 70,460 cube yards of tunnelling through hard metamorphic sandstone, and the construction of 280,000 cube yards of masonry in viaducts   tunnels, stream bridges, culverts, and road bridges. Amongst the works of construction included in this contract are the Stony Creek Bridge, Harper's Creek Viaduct, Sunbury Creek Viaduct, Jackson's Creek Viaduct, Riddell's Creek Bridge, Campaspe River Viaduct, Boggy Creek Bridge, Coliban Viaduct, Taradale. Viaduct, Elphinstone Tunnel, Forest Creek Viaduct, Barker's Creek Viaduct, Big Hill Tunnel, Kangaroo Flat Viaduct, a number of stream   bridges and culverts, and eighty-two bridges for     carrying roads under and over the railway.   For all this Titanic work a plant had to be

improvised.  

The conditions of the contract required that the contractors should pay to the Government in cash, within fourteen days of the acceptance of the tender, a sum of £40,000, as security for the due completion of the work. This large sum of money was punctually paid, and the contractors were placed in possession of the land. They at once began operations, and carried on the work with such vigour, that, although   the date for commencing the railway had been, postponed some three months, from A number of causes,-the responsibility of the delay having been assumed by the Government, the operators being entitled to a corresponding extension of time-they not only opened the first section of the railway by the beginning of January, 1853, the date originally contemplated, but they placed the Government in possession of nearly three additional miles of the railway, two years before the contract time, thus enabling the Government to run their traffic into tho township of Sunbury. The first twenty-one miles of the railway were opened for traffic in the extraordinarily short period of seven months, and the festivities that took   place on the occasion, at the expense of the   contractors, will long be remembered. Upwards of 1,500 people were conveyed to Sunbury on the opening day, and entertained at a banquet In a pavilion erected expressly for the occasion, on   the following evening, a similar number of people were invited to a ball at the Exhibition Building, which was crammed to overflowing ; and on the succeeding day the proceedings were wound up by an, excursion on the bay. Soon afterwards, how- ever, difficulties arose, by which the progress of the works was retarded, and large expense thrown upon the contractors which they had not contemplated when they signed their bond. A number of vague charges were circulated,   attributing to the contractors a falsification of the measurements on the Keilor Plains section, and much political capital was made out of this source daring the heat of the contested election that followed, A committee of investigation was subsequently appointed by the reformed Parliament, It was admittedly hostile to the contractors at the commencement of the inquiry; but after sitting for several months, and   examining many witnesses, it abandoned the   inquiry. At a later period, charges were advanced with regard to the quality of the cement used in the Barker's Creek culverts, and out of the stories then circulated arose the appointment of a peripatetic committee, who visited the spot, dog out bricks from culverts with crowbars and inflicted a serious loss on the contractors,

without obtaining proofs of the alleged   fraud, time having proved by the works themselves that the culverts in question were substantially built. The rains have since beat upon them, severe floods have tried them, loaded trains have passed over them, and they have stood tho tests. This inquiry, how ever, led to the resignation of tho engineer-in-chief ; and the loss it occasioned to Messrs Cornish and Bruce is estimated at a large sum, through the   disorganisation it occasioned in their staff, the delay that occurred in the progress of the works, and the weakened confidence of their financial supporters.

Beyond the large sum paid down by way of security before the operations were commenced, the contractors had also to provide the necessary plant for prosecuting the works throughout the line. This plant is generally understood to have cost upwards of £250,000; and when we take into consideration the magnitude of the under- taking, and the difficulty and expense of procuring railway plant in a new country, separated by   a long ocean-passage from the markets of the old world, there is reason to believe that this estimate is not in excess of the actual cost. But, in addition to this heavy outlay of capital, they have had   to submit to a deduction of ten per cent, from the value of all work performed by them, that amount being retained by the Government, as additional security for the completion of the contract.   When it is considered that work to the value of from £20,000 to £30,000 per week was being   performed when the works were in full operation, it will be seen that a continuous deduction of ten per bent, must eventually have amounted to an enormous sum. The capitalists, who afforded the contractors the financial assistance they   required in this vast outlay, must undoubtedly have had great confidence in their judgement, ability, and integrity, for it is not in the nature of capital

to place itself out in an insecure, bark, for a doubtful voyage. Those advances are known to have   amounted at one period to upwards of a quarter of a million sterling. The injury the contractor must therefore have suffered from hostile   Parliamentary committees of inquiry can scarcely be over-estimated. It is in the nature of things that while works proceed methodically   and uninterruptedly under a well-considered system of organized labour, capital has confidence   but where Parliamentary committees of       inquiry, by their action-fruitless for good occasion disorganization and embarrass the conduct of business, that men who have made large advances     should become alarmed for their securities,   and withdraw their confidence. To this we owe   the interposition of third parties between the   contractors and the contract, some months ago

and this element of inquiry, unthought-of when the calculations of the contractors were made, must have seriously disturbed their expectations. so long as Parliament left the work of supervision to its responsible agents, the work advanced   rapidly and successfully ; as soon as it interfered, disorganisation and loss began. Up to that time Messars Cornish and Bruce had vigorously carried. out their contract, and more than fulfilled their  

promises. Since then the rate of program has been much less satisfactory.

The completion of the railway within the period originally contemplated has been prevented by a number of accidental causes, some of which have been already alluded to. The most serious, however, was the long struggle between contending;   bodies of the men of Kyneton as to the precise

course of the line, until the " Kyneton deviation" , question became a bugbear to Parliament and a reproach out of doors. The line, as originally contracted for, passed at a distance of about two miles to the westward of the town of Kyneton, A strong agitation, however, was got up in that municipality for the purpose of inducing Parliament to authorize such a deviation   of the railway as would bring it through   Carlsruhe and Kyneton, along tho east side of the Campaspe. In consequence of this agitation, the Government were induced to withhold from   the contractors possession of nearly twenty miles of the line, extending from Woodend to   Malmesbury, for upwards of two years, pending the issue of investigations as to the probable cost and advantages of the proposed deviation. There were several lines were at last proposed. The matter was brought definitely before Parliament, referred   to a select committee, reported upon, discussed again and again, and at last settled by the hazard of a division, which decided that the line should

be carried a mile and a half nearer to Kyneton   than was proposed originally. Notwithstanding the serious delays the contractors thus experienced in obtaining possession of this portion of   the line, they pushed on with the works so vigorously that they were enabled to hand over to the Government for public traffic so much of the railway as enabled trains to be run to Kyneton nearly three months before the date set down,   in the final agreement with the Government. From that time forward the works have been much delayed by the severity of the weather. To this cause we owe a delay of nearly three months in the opening of the line to Castlemaine and Sandhurst. But for the late unprecedented rains, the interesting event to be celebrated   to-day would have taken place in July last.       Under all the circumstances, however, the colony has reason to be glad that so great a work has been carried out so faithfully, and with so close an approximation to the time originally proposed. The sketch I have hastily written of the works themselves, the figures   I have quoted, and the disturbing elements to which I have alluded, may help the public to appreciate the importance of the ceremony in which they are to day to take part, and of the works in the completion of which the colony will   rejoice,

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