Editorial: Chiding the Railways

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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OPINION: To celebrate the Timaru Herald reaching its 150th anniversary, we're taking a look at some of the issues which have caught our attention over the years.

November 23, 1883

We are glad to see the Railway Department have decided to adopt in principle the course which we recommended, with respect to excursion tickets to the Lakes.

A single ticket to Kingston from Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru or Oamaru is to be available for return without additional charge, during the months of December, January and February.

This gives the public a considerable inducement to swell the railway revenue while treating themselves to a delightful holiday, and it does away with the absurd restriction as to time which proved such a nuisance and such a discouragement to excursionists last year.

But after all, the reform effected by the new arrangement appears to be very incomplete.

The Department may, of course, have good reason for limiting the advantages of an excursion tariff to tickets taken at Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru but we confess we are quite unable to discern what those reasons can be.

Why should not tickets taken at any station be available for return during the Summer months, just as much as those taken at the four stations named?

Let us put it in this way, in order to illustrate the anomalous nature of the announced arrangement.

A tourist takes a ticket say at Temuka for Kingston. He must pay full rate for a ticket from Kingston to Temuka on his return.

But another tourist who got in at Ashburton, and who travels 80 miles further m the double journey than the other, is allowed to go and return for a single fare. What sense is there in that?

Perhaps we shall be told that we are mistaken in this calculation, because no tickets are to be issued for Kingston from Temuka or any but the four chief stations.

If that is so, we can only ask, Why are they not to be issued? Why should the tourist from Temuka be compelled to get a fresh ticket at Timaru, and to pay return fare between Temuka and Timaru?

Our view of the matter is that while they were about it, the Railway Department might just as well have made holiday arrangements which would have suited the largest number of people, especially the country people, who are much more put to it to make a journey than townspeople, and would have, consequently, increased the receipts by the largest amount.

It is the old story of spoiling the ship for a hap'orth of tar.

We do not wish to be captious. Far from it. But we are equally at a loss to understand why excursion tickets to the Lakes should be made current for three months only. Why should not a single ticket to Kingston be available for return all the year round?

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We are thankful, however, for the small mercies we have received, and hopeful for more in good time.

- The Timaru Herald

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