HC Deb 17 March 1871 vol 205 cc169-70

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether he can furnish a detailed Statement of the sums already expended by the Government of India upon the projected Line of Railway between Lahore and Peshawur, showing the money spent on salaries, materials, and works respectively from the time of the commencement of the surveys; whether the question of the gauge of the said Railway has been determined, and, if so, what gauge has been selected, and why; and, whether he has any objection to lay upon the Table of the House, Copies of the Railway Despatches from the Government of India to the Secretary of State, dated May 17, 1870 (Nos. 51 and 52), and of any other subsequent Despatches or Correspondence on the same subject?


In reply, Sir to the hon. Gentleman's first Question I have to say that we have no means of furnishing such a statement as he asks for without referring to India. In reply to his second Question, I have to say that the final decision as to the gauge to be adopted on the projected new railways in the Punjaub and Scinde was left by the Secretary of State in Council to the Government of India; and I can best convey its decision by reading an extract from a despatch from the Government of India to the Secretary of State in Council, which I shall lay upon the Table of the House— We consider an internal width of 6 ft. to be the least that can be conveniently taken for ordinary passenger and good's vehicles, and that for such a width of the vehicle a gauge of 3 ft. 3 in. seems likely to be most suitable. We are of opinion that by adopting this gauge we shall very materially reduce the cost of construction and maintenance, while the carrying power of the railways will be fully adequate to the probable requirements of the traffic. On such a gauge, with a light rail, rolling stock not sensibly heavier than that which has been proposed for the 2 ft. 9 in. gauge may readily be employed; while, in the event of an important increase of the traffic, vehicles of larger capacity, with heavier engines, if accompanied by the adoption of a heavier rail, will give the means of raising the carrying power of the lines to a standard very little, if at all, below that now attained on moat European lines of the 4 ft. 8½in. gauge. In reply to the hon. Gentleman's third Question, I have to say that there is no objection to laying the Correspondence for which he asks upon the Table of the House, if he will move for it.