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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)

Essay by Gwen E. Morris, Class B, Papamoa Native School

Essay by Gwen E. Morris, Class B, Papamoa Native School.

The railway lines through New Zealand, from North to South, and from East to West, linking town to town, and bringing the country in touch with the city, are our great national highways.

The trains, efficient, reliable, and safe, are of all our means of transport the most popular. Day after day the trains are busy carrying their hundreds of people, one and all, safely and surely to their destinations. Business people arrive punctually at their destination, and children in hundreds are carried from their home station to school, and safely return.

Seeing a train come into a station is a beautiful sight. The carriages glide along smoothly and in a most orderly fashion, and perhaps a hundred passengers are brought to this one place at the same time. This is a wonderful achievement.

A long journey is a test of the comfort, efficiency, and reliability of the Government Railways. Should the day be wintry, one is quite cosy in the comfortably heated carriages, and in the luxurious seats provided people suffer no discomforts from the cheerless winter conditions prevailing outside. On a bright day how pleasant it is to sit by a window and view the changing scenery as the train page 24 steams on her way, musically clanging along the rails.

The transport of the animals is carried on most efficiently. Over 459,943 cattle, 9,312,987 sheep and pigs, were carried safely by the train last year. The transport of the thousands of passengers (over 26,000,000 were carried last year) brings a revenue of many thousands of pounds (the actual amount collected last year was £2,149,642).

But this is not all. The carriage of mails is a very important branch of the railway service, and the revenue from the carriage of thousands of cattle sheep and pigs amounts to the great sum of £4,684,659. Timber, wool, flax, butter and cheese, amounting to thousands of tons, carried by the railways, brings in a large revenue, making the total receipts a sum beyond the earning capacity of any other transport system.

On the Northern Section. Goods train approaching Newmarket Station, Auckland. (Photo, W. W. Stewart.)

On the Northern Section.
Goods train approaching Newmarket Station, Auckland. (Photo, W. W. Stewart.)

The New Zealand Government Railways handled this great amount of traffic without a single mishap, and the people know the familiar words “Safety First,” not as a mere phrase, but as an actual fact.

The control and upkeep of the 3,180 miles of railway lines, with the necessary equipment for coping with the enormous traffic, means the employment of thousands of men, each specially trained and fitted for his work.

The Maintenance Branch looks after the line and buildings—which are stations for the convenience of passengers and residences for the workers.

The Locomotive Branch has a most important task—that of keeping the engines and carriages in good running order. Every part of the train must be tested to make travelling safe.

The Operating Branch, as the name suggests, does the work of securing efficient working of trains. Time-tables are made and strictly adhered to, in order to avoid confusion. The trains must be despatched punctually, and run according to the time-table. Thus the New Zealand Government Railways have been of the greatest value to the community in providing a comfortable, safe, and efficient means of travel, not excelled by any other means of transport.