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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)


As the melting pot changes the nature of metals, causing rearrangement of molecules, the production of new combinations, and the precipitation of dross, so the depression at present in charge of the world is producing changes in political, social, and commercial life which would never have occurred without it, and which will result in the elimination of much that is useless and wasteful in all three spheres.

In the railways of this country we live in fast-moving or (as some would have it) “locomotive” times. Since the year started we have seen the withdrawal of Divisional Superintendents, reductions in services, staffs, and rates of remuneration, closer co-operation with the Tourist Department, earlier retirements, and a new system of control introduced under which the Railway Board of Directors takes over most of the functions previously performed by the Minister of Railways, and the General Manager occupies a position analogous to that of the previous Railway Board. All these changes were either produced or accelerated as a result of the depression.

Thus there are readjustments on every side, and alertness and alacrity are necessary to keep pace with them. For still the day's work must go on, and the better it is done by each individual the better will be the result for all. Meanwhile we have the assurance of all previous history that the deeper the dip of the “dep.” (as the depression is now sometimes familiarly, nay, almost affectionately called) the bigger will be the recovery when the wheel comes round full cycle.

The railways may be the victims of loaded dice on the competitive side—the general transport situation is also in the melting pot—but so far as New Zealand is concerned one million pounds was declared to be the Department's last year's contribution to the making of a national deficit. Apart from the effect of the depression, much of this was caused by the short view taken by many travellers and business people throughout the Dominion in giving their transport to other than the national system, with the cumulative effect of both adding to the depression and producing the need for increased taxation.

At this point it is worth mentioning the idea propounded in some quarters that too much is being produced. This cannot be true, in general until all wants of a desirable kind are supplied and a balance is left over, which we know to be far from what has occurred up to the present. On page 6 broad lines, the ways by which first, stability, and then progress, can be reached are, however, world problems that are causing anxiety to the most experienced and capable brains, and those who have to carry on while the problems are worked or work themselves out have to fall back on those basic principles and practices which have served well in the past. Among these, steady application to the business in hand is one of the safest and is likely to prove the most helpful in the solution of individual problems.