The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1 (April 21, 1927)
Otago Business Agent Talks Transport to Farmers' Union
Otago Business Agent Talks Transport to Farmers' Union.
Mr. G. Greig, Railway Business Agent for Otago, put the case for the Railways very effectively when speaking before the Otago Provincial Council of the New Zealand Farmers' Union on 24th March:—
“Speaking on the subject of linking up motor carriers with the Railway service,” states the “Otago Daily Times,” “Mr. Greig said the Department had had a good deal of success in inducing the motor carriers to link up. It was a sort of ‘gentleman's agreement’ that was not strictly binding. He instanced what was done at Orari, and said the Department was in a position to offer the farmer transport right from his farm to the city. The Department collected all the fees and refunded to the motor carrier his share. They had carriers linked up with them in practically all the country centres. The system had worked very satisfactorily. The benefit to the carrier was that the Department did his business for him, and he had no bad debts. It took a lot of worry from the farmer, and it was good also for the Department. They would take in any carrier whom they thought would render useful service.
“In the Dunedin district, which extended from Tinwald to Milton, they had carried, up to March 5th of this year, 59,756 bales of wool, which was an increase of 7,162 compared with the previous season. In two years they had increased their wool traffic by something like 17,000 bales in the Dunedin district alone. In other directions also they had been able to increase their traffic. The chief competition in this district was round about Timaru, where they had flat roads. In many cases they had had to put on special rates to meet competition and it has paid them handsomely to do so. In Waimate they put a carrier competitor off the road in a week, and he then linked up with them!”
Mr. Waite: “What did you do then! Put the rates up!” (Laughter.)
Mr. West (District Traffic Manager): “I wish we could!”
Mr. Greig said that was no part of the Department's policy. It was no part of their policy to pile up profits, but they required 4⅛ per cent., to meet their heavy interest bill and working expenses. They endeavoured to give the farmer the best service possible, and in many ways they assisted him very considerable. He quoted a number of scale charges in support of this, and said these cheap rates meant more production—and that led to more business for the Railway—and everybody was bonefited.
Touching on farmers' excursions, Mr. Greig said that big commercial concerns had their annual excursions, and the Department wished to start something of the kind among the farmers. Such an excursions from the Waikato to Hawera last year proved a great success. He had in mind the working up of a farmers' excursion from Otago and Southland to Lincoln College (Canterbury), which was, of course a most interesting place from the farmers' point of view. He suggested a four days' excursion at a rate slightly cheaper than the ordinary excursion rate. The Agricultural Department proposed to set up a carriage and fill it with exhibits, and to send instrutors and demonstrators with the train. The rate would be practically single fare plus 25 per cent., and they would stop as required by passengers. They would want about 300 people to make train of it. If they found too many were coming they could make separate trains for Southland and Otago.
The President (Mr. J. Preston) said the proposed excursion ought to appeal to every one of them. It would be a good outing, and they would certainly all learn something from it.
The Council decided to approach the branches regarding support for the excursion.