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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

The Board's Message

page 4

The Board's Message

In reference to the traffic carried during the last financial year, and particularly in regard to the good work accomplished, through the united efforts of the staff, in handling the extraordinary increase of business occasioned by the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition at Dunedin, the Board desires to place on record its keen sense of appreciation of the excellent work done, and its thanks to all concerned for the fine spirit displayed in making the necessary arrangements and effectively carrying them out. The capacity shown by the personnel has brought much credit to the Department. Our exhibits at the Exhibition created great interest, and in the preparation of these also much commendable originality and alacrity was shown.

The progress made in re-organisation, education, staffing, discipline, and operations is to be carried further during the present year, bringing improvement in the status of the Department and increasing its capacity for rendering better public service.

Putting the year's work in round figures, there has been an increase of 1½ millions in passenger journeys and of 200,000 tons in goods. With an increase of 1¼ million train miles there has been a decrease of 4½d. in the net operating earnings per train mile.

After paying interest charges of £1,900,000, there is a net surplus of £21,000 as against the net deficit of £87,000 last year.

While subsidies on account of Branch lines and isolated sections amount to £359,000, renewal provisions (in excess of expenditure) have been made to the extent of £317,000.

Prospects for the coming year are, however, not so bright. Beside effort to obtain more business there is need for the practice of economy in small things as well as in great. Here every member may help.

Our business is sensitive to overseas as well as to local conditions. With labour troubles of unparalleled intensity in Great Britain and Australia, lower prices for our staple products, and the Exhibition a thing of the past, it cannot be expected that business in the coming financial year will be as buoyant as in that from which we have just emerged.

The exercise of care in the use of supplies of every description and also of prudence in expenditure will be necessary to enable us to produce at 31st March, 1927, a satisfactory financial result. The attainment of this result can be materially assisted by increased efficiency, to which loyalty, industry, economy, enterprise and co-operation are essential.

Competition by road has seriously depleted our revenue from suburban traffic, and while effort is being made to counteract this tendency by, (a) experiment with rail cars, giving a more frequent service, (b) putting Departmental motor vehicles on the road, and (c) reducing rail services in proportion to the traffic lost, the general effect of motor competition is to reduce the earning power of the Railways in suburban areas. There is, however, opportunity for the development of new traffic in other directions, viz.: in passengers, by encouraging the public to take advantage of the various low rates provided in the tariff for parties travelling for special purposes or to special events; in parcels and goods, by prompt attention to consignments, and the creation of a friendly, helpful atmosphere in the conduct of business; and generally, by the offer of transport facilities wherever or whenever they may be needed. In this respect the possession by each traffic member of full knowledge regarding the products, attractions, and potentialities of his own district is essential.

In the securing of new traffic every member may help by suggestion, good service and good-will towards our customers.

Increased attention to safety rules and practices will help to reduce the number of accidents amongst employees. In this also the co-operation of the staff is essential, and their assistance is now invited in setting up Safety Committees at the principal stations and workshops.

Recognising the inter-dependence of each branch of the service on every other branch, and on the public in whose service we are engaged, and feeling assured that only by approaching difficulties with an open mind,—and with the interests of public, employees, and management fully represented,—can matters be adequately dealt with, the Board is prepared to place all its cards on the table in any negotiations and work heartily, by conference or any other feasible method, for the common good of the public and the employees alike.

The Board, in its efforts to meet public requirements by adequate transport services, looks with confidence for a continuation of the splendid backing already afforded by the public, and for the fullest assistance and co-operation from every member of the staff.