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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1 (April 21, 1927)

Editorial. — Stoking up

page 2

Stoking up

In stoking up for the second year's run of our Magazine, the question of fuel—its choice, quality, weight, power and source—calls for more than passing attention.

There are sources from which a plethora of material may be obtained. In addition to our own efforts, exchanges may be tapped, special writers engaged, publications clipped, and readers drawn upon.

For the benefit of the public and the welfare of the service—the two objectives of the Magazine—we feel that the most valuable source of data is our own readers. By publishing a large proportion of original matter contributed voluntarily by those who receive this journal, it has been possible throughout its pages to make a distinctive appeal not otherwise easy of attainment, and our grateful acknowledgements are due to all who have assisted in this way.

There are, however, large numbers of capable railwaymen—many of whom are known to us either personally or by repute—whose thoughts upon the work immediately under their hands would be greatly appreciated by their fellows, but who, so far, have not taken advantage of the opportunity which our pages offer to make themselves articulate. Some of these are men of the younger generation, already holding responsible positions, keen to progress to executive control, and well equipped with both the knowledge and the capacity to impart it which would render their studied opinions and expositions of considerable value to the rest of the staff. That they have, up to the present, remained gloriously mute, may be a tribute to their modesty; but there are times when the quality of silence may be overstrained, and that to their own hurt.

The mere effort to write helps to clarify the writer's thoughts upon the subject to be dealt with; it induces research, and gives scope for the exercise of all one's capacity for well-ordered thinking, self expression, and the constructive development of ideas.

Not everything that is contributed can go into the magazine. A proportion of articles are unsuitable; some are not in keeping with the policy in view; others, again, just miss the mark through want of point, similarity to previous writings, or lack of general interest. But failure to have your contribution published does not in any way lessen the value of the effort which the writing entails. The effort is, in itself, a useful discipline of the mind, and one always knows more about a subject after writing upon it than before taking pen in hand.

An endeavour is made to find room for any worth-while matter, irrespective of the position occupied by the contributor.

Railway operations are now recognised as a national rather than a departmental business, and the interest in them extends for beyond those directly concerned in their working and use. Besides the business effect of their methods of management and the general reflexive action of their financial results on Dominion prosperity, the romance of railways has a much broader appeal than is commonly recognised, and interest in the intimate details of their working is wonderfully deep and sustained. The child's desire with a watch to get the cover off and “see the wheels go round” is shared by a multitude of grown-ups where railways are concerned.

We are endeavouring to satisfy that curiosity and to extend still further the public interest in our transport problems and their solution. In this work we have received, and expect to receive still more abundantly, the willing co-operation and assistance of our readers—both within, and outside of, the Railways—in the Dominion as well as overseas.

page 3

Commonwealth Railways.

The report of operations on the Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30th June, 1926, is to hand. It shows that the losses on the Trans-Australian and Northern Territory Railways have been steadily reduced at the rate of about £20,000 per annum since 1921, so that in the last financial year the loss (excluding interest) amounted to only £8,462.

The Commissioner predicts that the current year will show an operating gain.

It is noted that the number of passengers on the Trans-Australian Railway by the triweekly services averaged 83 per train. This line, 1,051 miles in length, links up Kalgoorlie (the inland terminus of the Western Australia line from Perth) with Port Augusta at the head of Spencer's Gulf in South Australia. It is the inland way across the greater part of the Continent, but its utility, particularly for trans-continental goods traffic, suffers from the fact that its 4 ft. 8½ in. standard gauge connects at each terminus with a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge, while connecting lines bring it into touch with the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge of Victoria.

The passenger carnings of the Trans-Australian Railway amounted last year to £138,545 and the goods earnings to £51,370.

Although the line was originally construetructed—at the cost of £7,500,000—for the purpose of connecting Western Australia with the Eastern States, it opened up for settlement vast areas of land requiring only an adequate water supply to make them fertile. It is only recently, however, that boring for water, and water conservation has been taken in hand.

Honesty That Amazed.

Under the above heading the “Dominion,” Wellington, tells the following experience of a visitor from Australia:—At least one Sydney visitor to Wellington has cause to speak well of its residents' sense of honesty, through his own experience. “When you lose money in Sydney you never expect to see it again—that would be asking too much,” said the visitor, “but in Wellington the chances seem to be altogether in favour of the loser reclaiming. My experience was simply this: I went to pay for two railway tickets to Trentham at one of the boxes outside the station during the races. Instead of passing over a tenshilling note and the odd silver I was careless enough to hand in an Australian ten-pound note, which is the same size and something of the colouring of your ten-shilling note. When I arrived at the course I discovered my loss, and considered it gone for ever, as anyone from Sydney would. Anyhow, I told the secretary (Mr Griffiths) my trouble, and he was good enough to ring up the railway station in town with my tale of woe, and, sure enough, one of the men in charge of a box had registered a tenner over cash. Can you imagine that happening in Sydney?”

Definite arrangements are made in all New Zealand booking offices for the detection of instances where errors of overpayment are made by customer purchasing tickets, any excess amounts discovered in balancing being placed to a suspense account and made available for refund to claimants—after due inquiry into the circumstances.