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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 15, 1926)


As we travel in the early morning towards the local station, the movement of pedestrians betokens the arrival of an important train, namely the Night Limited, from Auckland, which dashes in prompt to time—6.42 a.m.

The next few minutes present a busy and animated scene with passengers hurrying for welcome refreshments, prior to joining waiting trains for North, South, Hawke's Bay, and Wairarapa districts. Piles of luggage and large consignments of newspapers keep the staff moving at top pressure, in order that all may be transhipped, and the trains despatched promptly. The passengers receive every assistance from the staff, and also engage the services of the red cap porters when so desired.

The heavy goods traffic next claims our attention and we find a night staff has been busily engaged with the hundreds of wagons arriving from all directions for local delivery and transhipment. Clients of the Department can obtain immediate delivery of their goods and we note the railway motor lorry moving from sidings to sheds, thus expediting urgent consignments and avoiding unnecessary shunting. The clerical staff have all in readiness for the early delivery, and the system of organisation in the sheds ensures the speedy locating of the goods. We note with satisfaction the guard informing the train engineer that live-stock is attached to his train (a “goods”) about to depart, in order that every attention may be paid to smooth running.

Throughout the day expresses arrive and depart and, ever and anon, the station presents an animated appearance. The shunting and marshalling of trains goes on all day, and towards evening we find the traffic surging to its heaviest load.

The inauguration of an “Express Goods” has proved a great boon, and heavy tonnage is being dealt with, and when floods blocked the main highways, recently, the N.Z.R. kept the transport going, and several appreciative letters were received from clients of the Department.

The Transport Branch, which is fast becoming one of the scientific Branches of the service, is kept tuned up to concert pitch, in order that traffic from all directions may maintain prompt connections, and the successful efforts on the part of these officers is reflected in appreciations received.

The controlling officer at a large station holds an exacting position. As the executive head of a large transport concern, he is engaged, a great portion of the day, in discussing from many angles with our clients, business that presents itself, and in this direction he is ably assisted by the Chief Clerk and heads of Departments.

The Commercial Agents are always welcome visitors in any centre, and these officers, from their wide experience, tact, and courtesy, have brought the clients of the Department into that commercial touch that has been a large factor in bringing about improved relations and general working.

The inquiry office of a large station is always a busy quarter. Clients will be booking through to the Southern Lakes, and taking full advantage of the through booking system whereby rail, steamer, and lake tickets can be secured at the starting point, and arrangements made to check luggage, or book parcels or bulky goods through the special systems provided. Other clients will be inquiring about special trains, season tickets, etc. The inauguration of the through booking systems is much appreciated, particularly at inland towns.

One sees a motor car going along the road without external control as to its movements, and the daily toll of life is a regrettable feature of modern road transport. On the rail everything is guided by the unseen hand, situated in a box, where, well above all the traffic, commanding an extensive view of the yard, stands the signalman, cool, calm, and alert, his one job, and one thought, being Safety First. At his hand stand all the interlocking levers combining within a small space the world's most up-to-date and scientific equipment. In connection with train signalling a slight turn and a lever is pulled over, diverting the train from the running line, to the loop, or vice versa. On the one hand an express dashes up to its allotted place at the platform, and running on a parallel line a heavy “goods” makes its way slowly into the goods siding or yard, to be broken up and re-marshalled.

The safety devices make train travelling safer than crossing a busy street, and the New Zealand Railways has the lowest death rate, from accidents, in the world. The £500 accident bonus issued to train travellers is obtainable, owing to the confidence the Directors of Insurance Companies page 59 have in the organisation and staff of the New Zealand Railways, and is an appreciation of the precautions taken by the Department to safeguard and protect the lives of its clients.

The Boy Scouts' motto is also the motto of every railway official, and hundreds of women travelling with small children testify daily to the assistance and little kindly actions that are performed by all members of the railway staff, from the highest to the lowest, in order to lighten the worry and trouble of their journey, and at the same time make railway travelling a pleasure.