The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 6 (October 1, 1929)
New Railway Workshops at Otahuhu — Visited by Members of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce — A Completely Successful Function
New Railway Workshops at Otahuhu
Visited by Members of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce
A Completely Successful Function
The Otahuhu Car and Wagon Shops presented a pleasing picture of industrial efficiency when the Auckland Chamber of Commerce party visited them on Tuesday, the 24th September. This was the first public visit to the works. The party was conveyed to Otahuhu from Auckland by the first passenger train to run over the seaside deviation via Campbell's Point and Westfield. The weather was perfect, the tide high, and the beauty of Auckland's new waterfront approach was seen in all its grandeur under ideal conditions.
The party was met at Otahuhu by the General Manager of Railways, Mr. H. H. Sterling, by whose direction arrangements had been made for showing the party (of about 300 members) over the shops, in sections.
The greatest interest centred in the new Car Shops, where the cars for the new Rotorua trains were seen in various stages of construction. Each of these cars, of which there is a total of 16 being built, occupied a dock of its own, on a track running off the traverser of the Midway. The visitors were particularly impressed by the bright light in which all the operations of construction are performed, and by the ample room and convenient arrangements provided for carrying out the work. How beautiful the completed new Rotorua Express trains will look could well be imagined from the fine appearance of some of the more finished cars. The vitron-enamel metal sheathing, with its fadeless colouring, finished in Midland Lake red and bearing the Railway coat-of-arms, gave the outside of the cars a handsome appearance, which was enhanced by the broad view windows with which each car is equipped, and the all-New Zealand timber (chiefly rimu) used for the inside decorations. The window glass has slotted grips to make movement easy, and the windows are depressed or elevated as required in the simplest manner. Another new feature is the upper panel of the windows with an easily adjusted type of glass ventilator that makes the regulation of ventilation much more satisfactorily arranged than any of the previous methods in use. In the Car Shop there are twenty-six car bays provided, and every one of these was found to be occupied by cars, either under construction or being repaired.
Other features that interested the visitors were the machine shop (where, again, good lighting and plenty of room for the easy transference of heavy material were particularly noticeable), the paint shop and the wagon building and repair and bogie-wheel departments.
It took the party the better part of two hours to see all over the shops, which have a covered area of eight acres.
At the end of their inspection the visitors were entertained at morning tea by the Railway Department, in the men's large refreshment room, which is an interesting feature of the works.
In addressing the gathering, the General Manager of Railways, Mr. H. H. Sterling, said:
“Mr. Vice-President, Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,—
“I assure you that it is with feelings of very great pride and satisfaction that I have to welcome you on this visit of inspection to the Otahuhu Workshops. In carrying out a function of this nature I feel that we are performing a necessary service to the community, for it is part of our duty to make the people acquainted with the details of the work the Department is carrying on in regard to both its kind and its magnitude.
“On this occasion you have had a chance to become acquainted with the methods and purposes of the new Otahuhu Workshops.
“I wish, in particular, to thank you heartily for the great response which you, as representative of the commercial people of Auckland, have made to the invitation to be present to-day. I feel that the more the people come in touch with what is being done by the Department the more quickly will we come to a solution of the problems which confront us. (Applause.)
“This is a job which belongs to no one man. It concerns everybody—you as owners and users of the railway, as well as ourselves—the suppliers of your transport needs. On this point I would remark that the only possible way in which the success of our job can be measured is by the manner in which we succeed in giving satisfaction to you, as users of our services. I conceive it to be our job to supply the highest possible quality of work at the lowest possible price. That is our purpose; and in achieving page 11 that, workshops such as these can play their part.
“You, as business men, will readily realise that it is impossible to expect to get the best results when work has to be carried on in cramped position, and when the work is not flowing in the natural way. Under those circumstances it is impossible to achieve the aim of business organisation—to obtain a high-class job at low cost.
“The whole position was reviewed by our executive staff, and after close examination of the position and requirements, it was decided to build the Car and Wagon Shops for the whole North Island, at Otahuhu, and the Locomotive Shops in the Hutt Valley, Wellington.
“The work of construction, as you have seen it to-day, gentlemen, has been planned in accordance with the latest ideas regarding industrial lay-out, that is, in such a way as to lend itself to the natural flow of the work. Under the new methods, immediately a job comes into the workshops it is analysed and scheduled.
“Upon this point an interesting question was put to me by a visitor to-day. He said that the supervision of a large workshop such as this one must be a difficult job. I replied that so would the supervision of a large quantity of bullion be under ordinary conditions; but when you had a proper strong-room built, all that was needed to guard the bullion was a small key. It is the application of this principle to workshops management that makes supervision possible and adequate. When a job does not arrive at its right place, on schedule time, it is then that the supervisory power available can be directed to find the point of failure, and when this is located defects in organisation can be discovered and remedied.
“I believe it to be our duty to take a broad view of our responsibility to the people of the country, as owners, and to the men as employees; and, taking that view, I think the provision of a dining-room and social hall and other improvements of a like nature will be found a good investment from the point of view of the business man. Such things help towards efficiency by making for good health and encouraging a contented spirit.
“In this workshop there is a total staff of 1,200 employed, and the area set a side for the work is 110 acres. It contains 10 miles of rail tracks and three miles of concrete and bitumen tracks.
“I think,” continued Mr. Sterling, “there is little doubt that, owing to adverse conditions, the standard of work put out during the last decade may not have been all that could be desired. But, in addition, we must remember that the standard of demand has undergone radical changes in the last few years. The carriages you have seen being built to-day are radically changed from any we have had previously. You appreciate the improvement, and I assure you that it will be continued to other rolling stock in our passenger-carrying service. We are entering upon a new era of transport, and at the start I think the Rotorua trains you have seen to-day are something we may all be proud of. (Hear, hear.) In them we are using New Zealand timber to the maximum extent possible at present, and we contemplate introducing a kiln-drying system for New Zealand timber which will enable us to use it to a still greater extent. (Applause.)
They were all satisfied that the place was laid out on an industrial basis, and that, wisely, a large area had been provided, which would allow room for expansion when necessary. They had seen much about the shops, had been impressed by the magnitude of the undertaking and the efficiency of the machinery installed, which, no doubt, meant the Department was now in a position to cater for all the work offering for a considerable period.
Mr. Stewart said he was sure the business men would co-operate with the Department in passenger and freight business, they should see that the Department was given as large a share as possible. (Applause.)
He desired to congratulate the Department upon studying the welfare of the men, the excellent layout of the paths and lawns, and on introducing the best industrial methods of other countries. He then asked the Mayor of Auckland (Mr. Baildon) to move a hearty vote of thanks to the Department for having made the trip possible, and for the trouble taken by the General Manager and his executive officers in providing for the informative morning they had spent. (Applause.)
Mr. Baildon expressed his thanks for the kind invitation to pay a visit to the Workshops. He desired to congratulate Mr. Sterling and his Department on the permanent appearance of all the work. Everything was spick and span, and gave the impression that the construction was of a most permanent nature.
“I am inclined to think,” said Mr. Baildon, “that in a few years the place will be too small. It is therefore pleasing to note that there is plenty of room in the area provided for expansion.” A thing that pleased him in particular was to find that so much in the shops was of page 14 British manufacture. (Applause.) “That,” said Mr. Baildon, “is pleasing to all of us. Local bodies round about Auckland are doing the same thing—that is, encouraging the use of British or Empire manufactured goods wherever possible.” He was glad to see the great use made of New Zealand timbers, and what they had seen convinced them that the appearance of the cars could not be beaten by the use of the best timbers that could be obtained outside New Zealand. He desired, also, to congratulate the Department on opening the new route round the waterfront. They all appreciated the very fine entrance which this provided to the city. (Applause.)
Mr. Baildon went on to congratulate the General Manager (Mr. Sterling) on the manner in which he was tackling motor opposition. “You haven't got that on your own, either,” said Mr. Baildon, amidst laughter. “My big objection to the motor is that most of the things used in connection with motors are imported—come from overseas. Let us keep the work in the country. By patronising the Railways we will be doing that.” (Applause.)
Mr. Baildon concluded by expressing thanks for the invitation, and congratulations on the success of the undertaking which they had been shown over that day. The vote of thanks was received with hearty acclamation.
Mr. Sterling briefly acknowledged with thanks the remarks of both speakers. Before dispersing, at the call of Mr. Stewart, three cheers were heartily given for Mr. Sterling.
The “Daylight Limited”
The “Daylight Limited” express between Wellington and Auckland, introduced this year on the 30th September, has already drawn considerable patronage. The first day out of Auckland it had sixty passengers, and the next one hundred and twenty. The north-bound traffic was in proportion. The trains start from each terminal a few minutes before 8 a.m. and reach their destination soon after 11 p.m., which is good travelling for a 426-mile run with a number of intermediate stops.