HC Deb 07 May 1885 vol 297 cc1832-3

asked the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, Whether, in view of the reported destruction of the wooden sleepers on the Suakin-Berber Railway, directions will be given to employ metal sleepers in future, the latter having been found serviceable on the Indian Government Railwavs and elsewhere?


asked whether the construction of the Suakin-Berber Railway was to be continued at all?


The noble Lord asks me to prophesy, which I must decline to do. In answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet, I have to say that the relative advantages of metal and wooden sleepers were carefully considered before shipments were made for Suakin. Upon the advice of the contractors and their engineers it was decided to use wooden sleepers in the first instance, on the ground that they were best adapted to the rapid construction of a temporary line; they were ready to hand, while steel sleepers must have been specially manufactured, and would not have been so useful in completing cargoes. Under the circumstances which were sure to prevail at Suakin during the pressure incident to the disembarkation of troops, transport, animals, and stores, it was thought that the use of wooden sleepers, which could be floated on shore, would greatly facilitate the difficult process of unloading, while for rough and uneven ground they would offer great advantages in making a more secure road. A limited supply of metal sleepers has been sent out for use in watercourses; and in the event of a continuation of the line, or of the permanent completion of the part now constructed, under circumstances offering less difficulty, both in respect of the delivery of cargoes and of the rate of construction, metal sleepers would no doubt be preferred.


Is the report true which has reached me, that a portion of the railway plant has already been shipped homewards?


No, Sir; I am not aware that there is any truth in the report.