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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

Welfare Work by Railway Institutes

page 34

Welfare Work by Railway Institutes

(From Our London Correspondent.)

On the Progressive Santa Fe

On railways all over the globe welfare activities are these days much to the fore. Welfare work covers an immense field, and many of the world's leading railways now find it necessary and desirable to maintain special departments to care for the physical and mental well-being of their staffs both at work and play. One of the most valuable aids in this connection is the operation of railway institutes designed as intellectual and social centres for employees and their families, where one and all may gather under a good influence to enjoy their leisure and bring about a closer relationship between employer and employee. Railway institutes have for long flourished in New Zealand and at Home, but it is probably in the United States that the greatest development has been recorded in this direction.

A leader in the development of the railway institute in America is the Aitchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line, one of the largest carriers in the States, which serves the whole of the vast continent west of Chicago. The Santa Fe institute system was inaugurated as far back as 1898, and to-day there are maintained on the line twenty-three such establishments. A special officer, styled the Superintendent of Reading Rooms, is entrusted with the conduct of the institutes.

Santa Fe Railway Institute, Waywoka, California.

Santa Fe Railway Institute, Waywoka, California.

Thirteen of the Santa Fe institutes contain sleeping rooms for employees, the majority of bedrooms being equipped with two single beds. These are rented by employees only at a charge of thirty-five cents for twelve hours, and at division points they are largely used by train-men during the lay-over between trips. The lower floor of the Santa Fe institutes is divided into three portions, viz., a reading room, a games room, and an office with sweets and tobacco stalls and other conveniences. The majority of the institutes are situated amidst park-line surroundings, and fulltime gardeners are kept. Inside and out the constant endeavour is to develop the home atmosphere which makes for friendship and amicable understanding. American railway leaders look upon the institute plan with the very greatest favour, and are confident in the belief that the vast sums of money thus expended are fully repaid in the higher standard of the employee and the creation of a spirit of true teamwork. American railways hold no monopoly of successful transportation, but in the manner in which they set out to improve the relations existing between the managements and the men, they certainly present much food for thought on the part of railway folk in other corners of the globe.