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Fitzgerald's Town

complaining that at

complaining that at Prebbleton the train did not stop at the station, but at the road crossing beyond, and for some reason was unable to reverse. Passengers, especially older passengers, were inconvenienced by having to leave the train at the road crossing. Accidents at railway crossings were always a possibility, and in the early days there were some close calls leading to the suggestion that a whistle should be kept sounding as the locomotive approached a crossing. An accident at the Lincoln station resulting in the death of a young boy is described later in the chapter on accidents and other disasters. Sometimes the behaviour of passengers was less than desirable. A male passenger was fined one pound for attempting to board a train on the Southbridge line whilst under the influence of liquor and assaulting a passenger in the process. More seriously, an attempt was made to derail a train as described later. In order to better utilise the timber resources of Banks Peninsula it was proposed to build a railway line from Lincoln to Little River. In 1878 surveys were carried out with the intention of eventually extending the line to Akaroa. However, four years were to pass before the first 17 miles were opened to Birdlings Flat and on 11 March 1886 the line was opened to Little River. The line to Akaroa from Little River was never built, nor was a suggested line from Southbridge to Rakaia. In both cases cost, including tunnelling in the case of Akaroa, and bridging in the case of the Rakaia extension, was considered to be far too high for the expected return. 82

29. The train from Little River steams into Lincoln station c.1960. Photo Hugh Bennett. Lincoln and the surrounding district had its railway, but this was not the end of the matter, for in 1878 there were calls from the Selwyn County Council for a railway link between the east and west coasts. The matter was taken up with the Minister of Public Works by Canterbury MPs to no avail and it was not until four years later that more decisive action was taken. Then, the Christchurch City Council called a meeting of Canterbury mayors and chairmen of commercial, industrial, and agricultural bodies from which was formed a Railway League to lobby for the eastwest rail connection. The West Coast Railway League promised its support and the following year the League met in Lincoln 21 where it was unanimously resolved to support the demand for a railway link between Canterbury and the West Coast. However, A.P. O’Callaghan, MHR, stated that although he had no hesitation in opposing the construction of a line to Picton, he was hesitant to support the West Coast proposal until he had read a recently published report of the Railway Commission which had chosen Arthurs Pass as the best route to the Coast. The following month 83

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