The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 5 (September 24, 1926)
The R.O.I. Rostrum
The R.O.I. Rostrum
A series of lectures of a very high order delivered under the auspices of the Railway Officers' Institute and open to all members of the service, has been given in Wellington this winter. Professor B. E. Murphy of Victoria College, led off with a brilliant outline of the History of Transportation. Going back to the earliest recorded means of travel and transit, he traced the gradual, almost imperceptible development which took place down to the time when steam was first applied to locomotion, and then showed how great a factor the steam engine has been during the last hundred years in the great advances made by modern civilisation. On the question of road versus rail as it has developed since the advent of the internal combustion engine, the Professor was non-committal, but he could see that, once the respective spheres in which each was most economically efficient had been decided by sustained experiment, there need be no antagonism between them. His picture of the future was very bright. He saw great strides in the conservation of power, enabling energy to be provided at a cost infinitely cheaper than at present, and if he is anywhere near the mark, the expression “free as the air” will become out of date, for the air will have to work very hard in the not too distant future, carrying man and all his requirements at high speed and in every direction. It was an address rich in historical facts strikingly presented and, as Mr. A. W. Mouat (the chairman) remarked, packed with food for thought.
The second lecture arose out of a visit recently paid to Australia by four New Zealand railwaymen. Mr. G. W. Wyles (Assistant Signal Engineer) and Mr. J. Sawers (Rates Officer) in a joint lecture, spoke on the question of “Train Control.” Both explained with great clearness this method of dealing with train operations as examined by them on their tour. The need for better telephone communication was particularly stressed. The large number of members present were greatly interested in the practical demonstration of improvements which could be made in our own system of train management by the adoption of some of the methods now in use on the island continent.
Professor Ian Sutherland, of Victoria University, delivered the third lecture, taking as his subject “Colour Vision or Optical Illusions.” Out of an apparently unattractive subject he made an exceptionally interesting lecture, illustrating with effective lantern slides, the optical defects which produce colour blindness, their results, and the illusions which even normal sight is subject to under certain conditions. The point made that one in every twenty-five men is colour blind while only one in a thousand women suffers from this defect, came as news to most, as did also the explanation why so many people go far through life without discovering the fact of their colour blindness. Professor Sutherland stressed the importance of children being tested for this defect before putting them into what might prove to be an unsuitable occupation and stated that at the University they had all the equipment necessary and would be glad to test anyone who cared to take advantage of the facility.
Lectures such as these are a most valuable aid towards the education of railwaymen, and show how profitable for practical railway purposes a University course could be if the already wide curriculum were extended by the institution of a Chair of Transportation.
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A scheme, which has for its object the more speedy transport of both outward and inward goods between the Frankton Junction and Hamilton stations, was recently put into operation by the Railway Department. These stations are only a mile apart, but as each has a heavy goods traffie, their proximity furnishes opportunity for trying out the economy of short haul motor service for less-than-wagon-load lots. Under the new scheme Hamilton goods for the Rotorua line (which hitherto went from Hamilton to Frankton by an afternoon shunt and were not despatched till the following day) are transhipped by the motor truck from Hamilton to Frankton, loaded into railway trucks along with other goods assembled there for similar stations and despatched that afternoon. There is thus a saving of twenty-four hours in the despatch of goods for stations along the Rotorua line. Similarly goods for the Thames and Cambridge sections are delivered much earlier. This innovation is likely to fully justify its introduction and be of value to consignors and consignees as well as to the Department.