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

“Underground” Suggestions

“Underground” Suggestions.

Shortly after the electrification of the District Railway of London some twenty odd years ago, a member of the staff sent to headquarters the suggestion that a distinctive form of name-plate should be devised for station use. The result was the adoption of the familiar bull's-eye name-plate, now to be seen at every underground station. The employee who put forward this idea was suitably rewarded, and other members of the staff who had ideas were encouraged to submit them to head-quarters. This was the nucleus of the all-embracing suggestions scheme now functioning so successfully on the Underground Railways of London, and in 1917 a special suggestions bureau came into being. From 1917 until the end of 1927 no fewer than 42,000 suggestions were received in the bureau, embracing every conceivable detail of the multifarious branches of the operation of the trains, omnibuses and tramways owned by the undertaking.
A Typical Suburban Depot On The London Underground Railways. Kilburn Park Station, London.

A Typical Suburban Depot On The London Underground Railways.
Kilburn Park Station, London.

Approximately 3,000 ideas were actually adopted, and many others have led to modifications of equipment and practice, being the germ of improvements which were more fully worked out afterwards. A special form is provided for members of the staff to set out their ideas, and an especially praiseworthy feature is the fact that the upper portion of the form, wherein the suggester enters his name and address, is detached in the suggestions bureau prior to the form going forward to the department concerned for consideration of the idea put forward. In this way the anonymity of those putting forward suggestions is preserved during the consideration stage, and there can be no fear on the part of the staff that suggestions are considered on anything but their own merits.

The suggestions scheme of the London Underground Railways has since been copied by many other lines, and in New Zealand, of course, a very successful suggestions scheme has for some time operated. The railwayman with ideas finds in the suggestions plan a convenient means of bringing his genius to the attention of the management, and at the same time must find considerable, and probably even greater satisfaction, in the knowledge that he is rendering rare service to his fellows in bettering the rail transportation machine upon which human welfare and human happiness so largely depend.