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

Divisional Control

Divisional Control.

In Britain, U.S., and South Africa, it would appear that the divisional controlling officers, have very much more power than is the case in New Zealand. In the United States, where the railways are owned by private companies, the first job of the chief controlling officer (who is called the President) is to make the business pay, and, within the law, they do as they like. No man's tenure of his job is very secure. It is a case of “deliver the goods or get out.” With the exception of the Presidents, Financial Vice-Presidents and Commercial Vice-Presidents, practically all the controlling officers are young men. The officers in charge of transportation are, generally, civil or mechanical engineers who have also had a thorough training in transportation working.

The South African railways are the most interesting from a New Zealand point of view, because conditions are, in many ways, comparable with our own. There the departmental spirit is almost entirely absent; members all think in terms of “our Division.” One difficulty in South Africa is the problem of co-ordination of divisions. Regional control has grown up naturally on the basis of the old estate systems which were in vogue before the union. Happily, we in New Zealand are not faced with many of the problems such as, race, colour and language diversities, which are the fruitful causes of friction in South Africa. Mr. Angus gave us many illustrations of these. The fact that all the instructions and regulations must be printed in both English and “Afrikans,” and that all employees must be proficient in the use of the latter (very difficult to learn because of its hybrid composition) gives some idea of one aspect of these problems.