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

Essay Competition — The Value to the Community of the N.Z. Government Railways

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Essay Competition
The Value to the Community of the N.Z. Government Railways

Particulars regarding the Essay Competition, arranged in October last by the Railways Publicity Branch and the Education Department, on the subject, “The Value to the Community of the New Zealand Government Railways,” with the two winning essays in Groups C and D (primary schools with roll exceeding 100 pupils, and secondary and technical schools), were printed in our February issue. The concluding essays in the series submitted, those winning first places in Groups B and A (sole charge country schools, and country schools with roll not exceeding 100 pupils), are printed below.

Essay by J. Gunn, Std. V., Wataroa School, South Westland.

The citizens of New Zealand have a great deal for which to be thankful. New Zealand, though such a young country, has many benefits bestowed upon it. One of these benefits is the system of the New Zealand Government Railways. This has penetrated into many parts of New Zealand, opening up large tracts of new land that otherwise would be practically useless. In Otago, where the farmers use lime, the lime is conveyed for the first hundred miles free of charge.

Then, too, travelling by train is much cheaper. Travelling in a car is much more costly and tiresome. On a long journey, the railway proves to be quicker, safer, and a more comfortable way of transport. If one is wishing to travel by night, sleeping accommodation is provided for a little extra payment on the expresses. This is one advantage. Another great advantage is that one may book one's seat, and enjoy a seat to oneself. One may book a seat some days beforehand, and may rest assured of getting a good seat, no matter how crowded the train is. This is a very great advantage to persons travelling in haste. Children under twelve years of age may travel at half-rates. Also, children under the age of three may travel free of charge. To assist families the railway now carries parents and all children under sixteen years of age for the price of three ordinary or excursion second-class return adult fares. The larger the family the greater the concession.

Excursion tickets also are issued at Christmas and Easter holidays. One may purchase tourist excursion tickets for touring the whole of New Zealand for £16 5s. Then, also, one ticket may be purchased for touring one Island only for £10.

Every precaution is taken to safeguard passengers travelling by railway. The provision of the most modern signalling apparatus together with the maintenance of rolling stock and running lines in a high state of efficiency ensure to the passengers a degree of safety not attainable by other modes of travel.

How cheap, too, is the freight on the goods carried by the railway. Much cheaper are the transport costs on the railway than by motor transport. Here, where I live, there is no railway. The nearest station is Ross, a town fifty miles off, and the charge on live stock, wool and other farm produce is more from here to Ross than from Ross to Addington, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles. The number of sheep, lambs, cattle, and bales of wool railed from Ross is enormous.

Since the Otira tunnel has been completed the Canterbury markets are brought within a day's journey of the West Coast. This is a great boon to the sheep and cattle farmers on the West Coast. All the farmers now have to do is to put their stock on the train at Ross and the stock goes direct to Addington. Addington is our chief stock market. The railway, therefore, though being cheaper, allows the stock to arrive in a better condition, and so the stock brings a better price.

The railway is also used to convey timber from the timber areas to the building centres. The page 23 number of tons of timber carried annually in New Zealand is approximately six and a quarter million. The timber thus carried is a benefit to the country for it enriches both the Government and the timber owners, plus the owners of the railway—the people of New Zealand.

Some idea will be gained of the low charge for the conveyance of goods traffic when it is realised that the average charge last year for carrying one ton of goods for a distance of one mile was not quite two and a half-pence. This is a very much cheaper way than the motor conveyance.

This is a remarkable instance of the railways cheapness compared with the motor transport. My mother had purchased a bicycle in Christchurch and wanted it to be conveyed to my home. The railway carriage on it from Christchurch to Hokitika, a distance of one hundred and sixty-five miles, was two shillings and sixpence. Yet the cost on the cartage from Hokitika to here was three times as much as the railway carriage. This was for a distance of seventy miles. It may seem incredible, but for all that it is true.

Where Thousands of Tons of Timber are Handled Annually. Hokitika Railway Station and Yard, West Coast, South Island

Where Thousands of Tons of Timber are Handled Annually.
Hokitika Railway Station and Yard, West Coast, South Island

Ah! what a blessing it would be if only the railway could be extended southward—even as far as Waiho would indeed prove a blessing. I hope to live to see the opening of a railway at Waiho Gorge.

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.

Essay by Margaret McKenna, Std. VI., Ohauiti School, Tauranga.

If we carefully examine the annual report of the New Zealand Railways we shall have little cause to regret the introduction of this means of communication into this young and beautiful country. On the contrary, since railways have been used in New Zealand great progress has been made in the development of our primary industries.

Those who have derived the most benefit are undoubtedly the landowners. Railways tend to closer settlement, and hence more production. Land which has previously been unoccupied, immediately becomes valuable, and thus improves the country from the industrial and financial points of view.

page 25

Goods can now be carried from one part of the country to another at very reasonable rates, and for that reason production has increased, until, not only is there sufficient produce for our own country, but even a greater quantity for exportation to Great Britain. People cannot be continually taking the good out of the ground without putting something back. The special low rates of freight on fertilisers is a boon to farmers. Every encouragement is given to all types of farming. Special arrangements are made for the carrying of sheep, cattle and pigs, even from the remotest parts of the country. The farmers take full advantage of the facilities, as is shown by the great number of animals carried annually.

One of New Zealand's Primary Industries. (Photo. L. Hinge.) Mustering sheep on a foggy morning, near Taihape, North Island, New Zealand. (Over 9,312,987 sheep and pigs were carried by rail last year.)

One of New Zealand's Primary Industries.
(Photo. L. Hinge.) Mustering sheep on a foggy morning, near Taihape, North Island, New Zealand. (Over 9,312,987 sheep and pigs were carried by rail last year.)

The timber industry has been vastly improved since railways opened. Timber was let go to waste in former days on account of there being no ways of transporting it. Some of it was carted away by teams of bullocks, but this was a very slow and expensive procedure. Now that the railways penetrate into the heart of our thickest forest there is no difficulty in conveying the timber from the mill to the nearest seaport.

Mails are now received daily in all the small country places, which are connected by rail. In former times people thought they were very fortunate in receiving three mails a year. Papers may be had daily, and country people receive the news almost as soon as the towns people. They learn how the market for their produce is progressing, and find when and where the various stock sales are to be held. The railway has linked up the cities with the country, and thus brings about a closer relationship between both.

It has also been of great educational value. Many wayback families had their education neglected on account of there being no ways of getting to school, but thanks to Railways, there is no excuse for the education of any person to be neglected.

Families who had never had the privilege of seeing the towns are now able to travel around and see other districts. They learn quicker and better methods of doing their work, and improve their ways of living in general. The Railways keep the farmers in touch with the outside world, and enables them to travel around to stock sales and improve their herds. To show to what an extent travelling has improved, there were over twenty-six million people travelled by train last year.

At present the railway has the motor competition to contend with, as there are numerous service cars and buses running from town to town, and in some cases at more suitable times than the trains, but I page 26 think things will gradually improve in favour of the trains, as there are considerably less accidents than by the motors. During the last two years there have been no fatalities, and the slogan “Safety First” has indeed been upheld. The Railways are very near to perfection, and most people value their lives too much to sacrifice them in dangerous ways of travelling, when there are safer ones. The fares have also been reduced, until it has made it possible for everyone to travel.

There have been pleasing indications of a definite improvement in the financial position of the railways to which the public who travel by train have contributed, and if the people give the railways their cordial support they will be performing a valuable duty to their country.

Our Suburban Trains. A fast passenger train passing through Otahuhu, Auckland.

Our Suburban Trains.
A fast passenger train passing through Otahuhu, Auckland.

Essay by Leslie Gibb, Luggate School, Central Otago.

Fifty years after the inauguration of railways in Great Britain the optimistic Government of New Zealand decided to adopt this same method of transport. Finding that the few miles of railway originally laid down were a great success, the Railway Department decided to extend the lines from time to time until to-day we have 3,180 miles of line, extending from Opua in the north to the Bluff in the south. The natural formation of the country is such that the laying down of a railway was a very difficult task, yet, notwithstanding this fact, the cost was £1,112 per mile, cheaper than the average cost in Australia. One wonderful achievement is the Otira tunnel, which is over five miles long, yet the building was carried out perfectly.

Passengers who travel during the day have carriages which are kept warm by steam-heaters, and can sit in luxurious chairs from which they may view the magnificent scenery for which New Zealand is famous. Those who go long distances have well equipped sleeping-cars. During the day they may adjourn to the parlour cars, which are equal to Continental cars in comfort.

Our Railway Department has adopted the principle of “Safety First” by having in use every modern safety appliance that human ingenuity can devise. Some of the safety appliances being the Westinghouse brake, which automatically applies the brakes should part of the train become uncoupled, and an automatic signal which allows one train only on a line at one time. The high state of efficiency attained is shown by the fact that during the past two years over 52,000,000 passengers were carried without a single fatality. This record could not be attained in any other form of travel.

The farming community depends on the Railway Department for the carriage of its produce and page 27 stock to and from the markets, special concessions being made for long distances to the advantage of the farmer in the backblocks. In order to encourage the farmer in the improvement of his land lime is carried free, and manures of all descriptions at a special cheap rate. Another generous concession is that on New Zealand-grown fruit, a single case being carried from any station to any station in New Zealand for the small sum of eightpence. The average charge for carrying one ton of goods for the distance of one mile is about twopence halfpenny. As this rate is far cheaper than any other form of transport the farmers must save thousands of pounds sterling each year, because last year over 7,000,000 tons of goods and about 10,000,000 head of stock were carried.

As the railways belong to the people of New Zealand everything that is possible to transport by rail should be carried in this manner, for without the support of the whole community it would be impossible to show a profit on such a huge undertaking.

The people of New Zealand depend on the Railway Department to provide cheap freights for goods and cheap fares for travel, for it is on these two items that much of the prosperity of the Dominion depends. Unless the people give their whole-hearted support these things cannot be carried out.

The Week-End Excursion Habit. A view of Paekakariki Railway Station (Wellington Province) during one of the Railway Department's recent week-end excursions.

The Week-End Excursion Habit.
A view of Paekakariki Railway Station (Wellington Province) during one of the Railway Department's recent week-end excursions.