The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)
The Locomotive Running Department
The Locomotive Running Department is closely allied to the Train-running and Transport offices. When time-tables and special train advices are issued, the Locomotive staff have to closely check them regarding crossings, the class of engines required, length of hours, etc., as they have to provide the necessary power to put the services in motion. There are engines of all sizes and classes, some being restricted to certain parts of the line only; and while they all may run on some lines, care must be exercised in selecting engines so sent out, owing to the fact that all turn-tables are not of standard length.
The engines running the express and main passenger trains must be in prime condition. After a locomotive has been in service on those trains for a considerable time, some of the parts get worn, and it must then be relegated to mixed and goods train services, being afterwards sent to the Workshops for a general overhaul.
During about nine months of the year, when (as often happens) every available engine is allotted to some train, one or two engines may arrive at the depot partially disabled, and unfit to do further work until they receive some attention. The repair staff have then very often to think and work hard, far into the night, to effect temporary repairs, in order that all services may be kept normal. When trains run late a reshuffle of drivers, firemen and engines has sometimes to be made hurriedly. In the event of breakdowns, etc., the call goes out to “Loco”; and drivers, firemen and engines have to be found at very short notice for relief purposes. All this requires a close check on men's time and engines to prevent overlapping, and to see that the men have the necessary time off between shifts.
Especially during the busy season now closing, the Locomotive-running Staff have a very trying time. All coal used in connection with the running of trains and station services is dealt with by this branch, a check being kept on all coal received and issued daily.
At the loco. depot is found an ever-changing scene of orderly activity, with drivers and firemen coming and going each and every hour of the day and night throughout the year.
The oil and other stores used by locomotives for train running, by engines for pumping services, and in connection with all depot services, are dealt with by an efficient Stores staff, who keep complete eneck over all stores and oils received and issued daily. There is also a large, highly skilled and efficient repair staff-always available at call-of whom it may be said they almost make new engines out of old ones while you wait. Then there is a staff whose duties comprise getting boilers washed out, steam raised, engines cleaned and general work attended to. All the staffs are paid under a very complex system of rates which would be very puzzling to the ordinary person; but it is seldom that there are any complaints on pay-day, as the whole system is dealt with by a highly trained clerical staff who are experts at their work, and who “deliver the goods,” promptly and accurately, 26 times a year.
The whole of these services are under the control of the Locomotive Foreman and his assistants, who have all had years of training in the practical side of train running, and part of whose duty it is to provide men and engines for all trains at any hour of the day or night-irrespective of whether the 4.30 runs to time or not. It will thus be seen that the Locomotive-running Department is a highly important branch of the Railway service, operating continually, day and night, throughout the year.