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

Railways and Road Competition

page 3

Railways and Road Competition

Normally, when the topic of road competition comes to the fore, thoughts are mainly directed to the passenger-carrying motor bus and its effects upon railway passenger business. It is, however, not only on the passenger-side that the problem of road competition has to be faced. In the movement of freight traffic the road carrier has made big progress at Home and throughout Europe generally, and the closest attention is being paid to methods calculated to meet the new situation. Unlike railways, the road carriers are able to pick and choose their loads as they wish. Also, a problem is presented by the difference between the two systems of charging. Home railway charges are based on the value of the load, whereas the road carrier bases his charges on the truck-mile cost. It is estimated that competing road transport in the area served by one of the principal Home railways carries 58 per cent. of the goods traffic between points up to forty miles apart; 19 per cent. of the goods traffic between points over forty miles apart; and 24 per cent. of the goods traffic over wide areas under a comprehensive system of radial distribution by the traders’ own fleets.

To meet road competition, the Home railways have in many cases reduced their conveyance rates, but this is, of course, a movement that cannot go on for ever. More encouraging measures, which have had good results, have been the running of more fast goods trains, the improvement of goods train punctuality, the betterment of terminal facilities, and the extension of railway-operated road motors giving a combined rail-road door-to-door service. One Home railway has introduced a system of registered transits at a registration fee of half-a-crown per consignment. Under this scheme, traders are informed beforehand of the time at which a registered consignment will be delivered at destination, and the transit of such consignments is specially expedited and controlled from point to point.