The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)
On 27th May last the Hutt Valley railway deviation—a double-tracked line branching off the main route a short distance beyond Petone (Wellington district), and passing thence through the centre of the valley to Waterloo Road—was opened by the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates (Prime Minister and Minister of Railways).
Although only three miles in length, the bringing into operation of this piece of track is of more than local, or even of district importance, for it marks the commencement of a new principle applied to railway expansion in this country. This is the “betterment” principle, under which a portion of the enhanced value resulting from the opening up of this rich new suburban settlement area revers to the Railways, and is thus a set-off against the cost of construction.
The new line has three stations of quite modern appearance, substantially designed, with wing verandahs on each side and island platforms. The appointments are thoroughly up-to-date, and the stations and precincts are well lit with electricity.
Features of the new construction are the several fine road overbridges which have been built in order to avoid level crossings. The ramps of the bridges being well graded and turfed, their general effect, besides securing safety, is to add pleasing contours to an otherwise flat stretch of country; but the main point about this new line is that it supplies the only large outlet at present available for absorbing the growing industrial population of Wellington city.
The Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates speaking at the opening of the new line.
With the new line, however, enabling present and intending residents to obtain train connection within a few minutes of their homes, there has been a big demand for sections throughout the area tapped. Private speculation in the contiguous land has been forestalled, chiefly through the foresight of Mr. W. T. Strand, Mayor of Lower Hutt, who in 1923—without explaining the object that he had in mind—obtained options for a large portion of land which the new railway, if constructed, would serve, at prices that were quite reasonable for such land as it then stood in relation to its accessibility to other parts. His foresight enabled the Government to purchase the land adjacent to the new line at a fair pre-railway cost. Thus the betterment which resulted from Government enterprise in opening up this new convenient area for industrial and settlement purposes, ensured that the difference in value which the new line created should go to the agency responsible for that betterment, namely, the New Zealand Railways.
Hutt River in Flood.
New combined rail and foot passenger bridge. Hutt River.
In speaking at the opening, the Prime Minister summed up the position, from a constructional aspect, in the following words:—
“I think I am perfectly safe in claiming at this stage that the original aim of the scheme has been fully accomplished, that is, apart from the value of such a modern residential settlement for the city of Wellington; the betterment on the purchase price of the land will be sufficient to pay the cost of constructing a single line of railway.”
As indicating the benefit from a settlement aspect which the new line confers, it may be mentioned that over 150 model houses have already been erected on the Mandel Estate adjacent to the line. These houses have an average of four rooms, and are adequately fitted up with the conveniences of modern life. Surrounded with artistically laid out gardens, paths and lawns, the homes present a pleasing picture to the eye, and furnish evidence once again how settlement and civilisation follow in the wake of railway development.