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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 6 (October 24, 1926)

How the Service Grows

How the Service Grows

The transportation of passengers, goods and livestock is the chief concern of the Railways. It is from this source that the main portion of the Railway revenue is derived. It is essential therefore, that the matter of transportation in all its phases be closely watched to ensure that the best results be obtained. The following figures are interesting as showing the large increase in the traffic handled now by the New Zealand Government Railways compared with twenty years ago:—

1906 1926 Increase
Passengers (ord.) 8,826,382 11,813,480 2,987,098 No.
Season tickets 147,989 600,292 452,303 No.
Goods tonnage 4,241,422 6,808,603 2,567,181 Tons
Livestock tonnage 173,744 447,539 273,795 Tons

The total train mileage in 1906 was 6,413,573 as against 10,319,407 in 1926, an increase of 3,905,834 miles.

In the matter of transportation the economic aspect requires to be kept in view. In this connection the maxim “Keep the wheels moving” is a good one to bear in mind; but care must be taken to avoid all unnecessary haulage of vehicles.

In order to ascertain the demands of the passenger traffic, a record of the number of persons travelling by the different services should be kept, and, with this as a guide, only sufficient carriages should be provided on trains to meet normal requirements. In cases where the traffic is “one way” a certain amount of empty running of cars cannot, of course, be avoided. It may be possible in some instances to effect an economy in the direction indicated by the substitution of composite for cars of one class. In supplying empty wagons to fulfil orders, care should be taken to see that they are obtained from the nearest point.

On the New Zealand Railways the lines are divided into Districts and each District is apportioned a certain number of wagons of the different classes to meet the needs of the Districts concerned. At normal times the wagon stock is ample to meet the requirements of traffic, but the position is different when heavy shipping traffic has to be handled, also during the peak months of seasonal loadings, such as wool, chaff, livestock, etc. Should one district have a big demand for any one particular class of wagon, the other districts are called upon to advance what wagons they can spare to the district requiring them. At times help in this direction cannot be obtained owing to a similar demand in excess of supply for the same class of wagon coming from several districts. When this position arises the best possible use must be made of the wagons on hand. Full loading of trucks should be insisted upon. Outward loads should be forwarded to their destination station by the quickest means and wagons discharged promptly on arrival.

A vexed question with consignees here—and in almost every other country—is the demurrage charge enforced on wagons not discharged within a specified time (eight hours in New Zealand) after arrival at destination station. This charge is not remunerative to the Railway. It is imposed solely to prevent undue detention to wagons. It would not be practicable to dispense with the demurrage charge, nor would it be in the best interests of the users themselves to do so.

Very heavy sheep and cattle traffic is handled in New Zealand during certain months of the year. It is sometimes found impossible to meet the demands of the loaders for particular days. The unfulfilled orders are in such cases carried forward to the following day in time and date order of receipt without differentiation.

The Transport Clerk is kept posted as to what livestock is being loaded to the different stations in the district he controls, and orders for outward loadings are approved on the information so obtained. In some instances, however, the senders change the destination station at short notice, thus upsetting the arrangements made.

To avoid disappointment and inconvenience to the consignors concerned, every effort is made to fulfil the orders as originally approved but, in doing this, empty wagons may require to be hauled long distances at heavy cost. Experience has shown that in order to keep the practice of diverting wagons from one station to another down to a minimum, a nominal fee is necessary. This charge does not, of course, recompense the Department for the extra expense it is put to in hauling empty wagons, perhaps for long distances, to keep faith with its clients, but it has the effect of discouraging the practice of diverting wagons and, to that extent, facilitates the work of supply.

An important factor in transportation is the punctual running of trains. Each Goods and Mixed train is allotted a certain amount of shunting work and these instructions should be adhered to. It may be necessary at times to page 13 depart from the schedule of work laid down, but this should, generally, be done only by directions of the Transport Clerk.

Ice pinnacles, Tasman Glacier, South Island, New Zealand

Ice pinnacles, Tasman Glacier, South Island, New Zealand

Care must be taken in altering crossings so that preference be given to the more important train. Due regard should be given to those having connections with other trains. In order to obtain the best results, all stations should provide themselves with a train diagram of their respective districts. By this means the immediate and later effect of any contemplated altered crossing is seen at once.

It is not always recognised what the loss of even one minute may mean to the ultimate running of a train. For instance, a decision may be given that provided a train is running not more than five minutes late it may be sent on from “A” to the next crossing station, “B,” in advance. A detention of a further minute may result in the train being held at “A,” thus considerably increasing the delay. The later running may also seriously affect the train in making altered crossings over the remaining portion of its journey and the one minute might easily be responsible for an hour or more additional delay to the train.

In order to obtain satisfactory results in transportation working, an up-to-date telephone system is absolutely essential. Given this facility the transport officers are able to keep themselves posted as to the running of trains and are in a position to promptly issue such instructions as are found necessary for the more efficient working of the traffic.

The secret of success of “train control,” which has been adopted by some lines in Britain, United States, and other countries, depends entirely on the provision of a proper and easy means of communication by the control officer with stations along the line.

The development of transportation has now reached the stage when it requires to be dealt with scientifically as well as methodically. It is a branch of railway working that cannot be too closely studied if the best results are to be achieved.