THE EARL OF MAYO
said, that with regard to the question that stood on the paper in his name, he wished to ask the 1522 Government when the railway between Stranorlar and Glenties, County Donegal, would be finished and opened for traffic. The railway was 25 miles long, and it had already occupied four years in construction. An extension of time had been granted on three occasions. The contractors stated that the line was completed in every part, and therefore he wished to ask why it had not been opened for traffic. One of the reasons why the line had been delayed was, that the contractors were nearly the only owners of the Lough Swilly line, and it was to their interest not to open, or not to proceed as quickly as possible with a line which would divert traffic from the Lough Swilly line. He had also heard it stated that the contractors proposed bringing an action against the, Board of Works for £20,000 for extra work that had been done which was not in the, contract. The whole of the satisfactory postal arrangements for the north-west of Donegal were in abeyance in consequence of the line not being opened. He asked the question last Session, but the Prime Minister, who answered the question, said—it was hoped the railway would be completed by the end of August or beginning of September.He hoped the Government would use every possible means in their power to get this line opened, as it would be of the greatest benefit to that part of Ireland.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
said, the railway between Stranorlar and Glenties, County Donegal, appears to be now finished. The usual notice for the inspection of the line has been, received by the Board of Trade. The inspection will take place next week, and the inspecting officer will then report whether the line can be forthwith opened for passenger traffic. Even assuming that it would be necessary, as the result of the inspection, to postpone the opening for passenger traffic, goods traffic might be conveyed, if the junction at Stranorlar is passed by the inspecting officer. I have no information about the Lough Swilly Railway, or about the action for £20,000 which has been brought.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
As to the delay I quite admit it, but there has been extenuating circumstances. The history of the railway is one of extensions, which have all been duly authorised in the proper way on account of circumstances which seemed to warrant the extensions. It is quite true that the line is a short one, and has taken the best part of four years to complete. State assistance was required and a free grant of £116,000 was assigned to the undertaking, which was then assigned to the Finn Valley Railway, who were to get the line completed before November 1892; then we came to an amalgamation between the Finn Valley and West Donegal Railways. Then there were more delays due to bad weather and to the very high prices for labour, and then the period was further extended to January 1894. The delays have also been due largely to inclement winters, wet summers, and workmen's strikes, and to the provisions of the Board of Trade which obliged this line to be begun at the wrong end, at Glenties, which meant that all the plant had to be carried over 24 miles of mountain road. Her Majesty's Government were most anxious to see the railway opened, and quite recognised its advantages.