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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 existing single line beyond Lower Hutt to the Wairarapa has many bad curves and grades which the new deviation—intended ultimately to link up with the Wairarapa Line near Silverstream—avoids. The travelling, therefore, along the new track will be smoother, and a higher speed will be possible than had duplication of the old line beyond Lower Hutt been resorted to. The latter course would also have been very costly without proving of any
The Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates speaking at the opening of the new line.

The Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates speaking at the opening of the new line.

page 7 further use to suburban settlement. The other disadvantage of the existing line is that, as it runs close along the base of steep hills, with the river adjacent on the opposite side, it serves settlement only in one direction, and that only within reasonable distance of the river bridges. The new line, moreover, has the great advantage that it practically bisects the flat land of the Hutt Valley longitudinally, and in a portion not previously settled because it was too far from convenient access to the city.
The site of Massey Avenue and Woburn Station before the commencement of Railway works.

The site of Massey Avenue and Woburn Station before the commencement of Railway works.

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.

Before the work was proceeded with, and subsequent to the purchase of the land required, an open competition was held, and a prize offered for the best proposal regarding the
Hutt River in Flood.

Hutt River in Flood.

laying out of the area. The winning plan is that which is now, in general, being followed. It provides ample spaces for playing grounds and scenic reserves, and absolutely prevents the formation of slums in the large district covered by the plan. Near White's Line Road a spur line, which gives immediate access to the new railway workshops, has been added. The foundations for these shops have already been almost completed and big progress in their erection should be recorded in the next few months. The spur line is intended to extend towards the right in the direction of the sea, and along this route a stretch of land is held which will be made available in substantial sections for industrial purposes. Here secondary industries will have ample opportunity to expand, and provision will be made to enable private sidings to be put in to each factory or mill, with direct railway connection to Wellington, to the north, and to a deep-water quay which the plans indicate as being feasible on the waterfront adjacent to the area named. Another advantage which the new line possesses is that it provides easy access both to Gear Island (recognised as one of Wellington's great playing area assets) and to Hutt Park, where the trotting races are held.
The train—running on the new line is controlled under the three-position coloured light system—the latest method of train signalling, and one which enables a maximum density and speed in traffic handling. Already, as a result of the new line working, the proximity of the new stations to each of the closely settled areas in the vicinity of Petone and the Hutt, and the provision of an expanded timetable to
New combined rail and foot passenger bridge. Hutt River.

New combined rail and foot passenger bridge. Hutt River.

page 8 serve the Hutt Valley suburbs, a proportion of the travelling previously done by road has been diverted to the rail. The records show that the daily average of passengers by trains running in this area has increased by 350.

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.