The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1 (April 21, 1927)
The Press and The Railways. — Pleasing our Visitors
The Press and The Railways.
Pleasing our Visitors.
Do you care to say anything about the the way the Railways have treated you?”
“Rather! Delighted to have the opportunity.”
Thus spoke Mr. I. F. N. Lucas, Special Press representative for Reuter's London Agency just before the termination of the Royal Tour.
Mr. Lucas is a well known journalist of high repute. He has been with Reuter's during the past five years and before that was attached to the staff of the London “Daily Mail.”
In giving his general opinion about the Railways of New Zealand, Mr. Lucas said that the thing that impressed him most was the way the Railways had overcome the great natural difficulties which the country presents.
He went on to say that he had not had much opportunity to gain experience of the ordinary train services, “but,” he said, “the Royal train has kept time excellently and the attention has been absolutely perfect!”
“What about the food?” we asked. “The food,” said Mr. Lucas, “is the best I have ever had on the Railways.” As Mr. Lucas has had experience of travelling on many railways, including those on the Continent and in England, this was praise indeed.
He went on to refer to the dining car services, where, during all the time he had been on the train, there had been no waiting to obtain attention between courses.
Mr. Lucas was also impressed with the train handling, which “was very good indeed, and, considering that on some lines two engines were required, there was very little jolting.”
Referring to the accommodation prepared for the Press on the South Island Royal train, our visitor said the Press representatives had been supplied with everything that they could want. They greatly appreciated the bracket tables, hinged to come down into place imme- page 22 diately in front of the chair seats, provided to hold their typewriters. In the North Island they had felt the want of this.
Speaking of the spirit in which the Tour had been conducted, and the general reception given to the whole of the visiting party, Mr. Lucas said: “We have had a truly wonderful time, there is no doubt about that. It has been strenuous in parts,” he laughingly confided, “but we have found everybody so homely, both on the trains and at the hotels.”
To the question as to the precise meaning he attached to the somewhat ambiguous word “homely” he said, “not in appearances, of course, but friendly. Everyone makes you feel that you are welcome. They will do absolutely anything for you!”
Certainly there was every encouragement for our people to be friendly with Mr. Lucas, for his happy smile and infectious good humour made him a general favourite everywhere.
He said he could not refrain from mentioning the beauty of the country. What had delighted him most about it was its entrancing beauty. “And,” he went on to say, “one is only able to see that because of your railways. Certainly we have travelled a bit on the roads, but it is always the Railways which have made it possible to get within distance of the finest of your scenery.” He mentioned the trip through Central Otago by train to Cromwell. “This,” he said, “would have been much more tiring by road. Then there is the comfort and convenience of the train besides the unique-small attentions thrust upon one.” (This letter referred to some special attentions which the Refreshment Branch provided for the delectation of members of the Royal party.)
Asked as to what portion of New Zealand had appealed most to him, Mr. Lucas said that for sheer beauty, the lake country of Central Otago took the palm. Rotorua impressed him because of its weird strangeness. He would always remember it for that; the one regret of the whole party was that more time had not been available to enable them to enjoy it more fully.
In conclusion, Mr. Lucas said, “throughout the tour we have felt perfectly safe on the New Zealand Railways, and must say that the running, catering and attention have been very good indeed.”