The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 10 (March 21, 1927)
Otago District Notes
Otago District Notes
As usual the change in the calendar brought its rush of traffic and consequent hard toil and worries to the staff in general, but all concerned were in better trim to cope with it than during the same period of the previous year, when the Christmas and New Year rush was accentuated by the influx of visitors to the Exhibition. This year the local reserves staff did its work with despatch, assisted greatly by the new system of reserve booking which, by the way, was adopted from a local suggestion. There was an absence of confusion which in past years seemed inevitable at holiday times, and on the busiest days the platform presented well ordered crowds, each individual happy in the thought that a seat had been secured. The passenger services were well handled, and ran to their schedule time, a circumstance which showers credit on the train staffs and the stations along the road.
The smooth running of the timetable is not obtained without much hard thinking, and little do the passengers think as they glide into their destination “on time” that their journey has been fraught, probably, with hard problems for those who have managed the crossings and attended to the train's despatch. The average railwayman has experienced these qualms and anxieties, also the gratification at the end of a hard day's toil of going home with the feeling that all is well. In such circumstances the Christmas cheer is taken with an added zest, and the world looks bright, notwithstanding the hard times which are, not infrequently, the result of small salaries and large ambitions. One hears less of the threats from all and sundry to resign from the service and take up other occupations, ranging from the usual rural allotment to the little “pub” with the big “bar,” where the pockets of the thronging crowds are as long as their thirsts— many have these visions of a change of occupation which are always to the fore when things go wrong. Thus the successful season has far-reaching effects.
The parcels and goods traffic was up to expectations, and the delivery officers for a few days resembled something between a poultry show and a produce saleroom. However, after much sorting out, each consignment was duly delivered to the relief of client and delivery-clerk alike.
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The Otago Provincial Cricket team has met with two sad reverses in the Plunket Shield games this year, and little short of a miracle will be the means of it retaining the coveted honour. Our prospects for next year, however, are of the best as a section of the Dunedin locomotive staff has decided to offer itself for selection, and has been busily engaged in practice for some weeks. Members have even forfeited their lunch hour to ply the bat and ball. Should this determined band be as assiduous in its practice through the winter months, I am sanguine of its success. The only apparent difficulty is the members’ aversion to “flannels.” I witnessed one of the “test” matches. I think it was played between the Light Blacks and the Dirty Blues, and was staged upon the Oval opposite the running sheds. Many promising things were accomplised, or nearly so. I noticed on one occasion that the umpire was forced to remonstrate with one of our noted drivers, and request him to retreat a few paces as his “form” was obscuring the wickets. The match, however, was played in good spirit, and except at odd page 43 times when the ball became lost in the voluminous folds of the overalls of one of the “attack” it went forward without interruption. I must mention “The Attack.” I regret to relate that it failed miserably, and when I passed yesterday at dinner time Arthur Kindley was still batting for the sixth day in succession. As he had to go on shift the match is likely to be prolonged because he can't bat again until his next late shift a fortnight hence. I think his side will declare when he hits a boundary; he hasn't done so yet. The players need not despair as they provide a novel exhibition, and many spectators foregather to view the uphill fight of the Dirty Blues in their worthy attempt to oust their formidable opponents of the darker hue. Otago need not lament the waning of her cricket prestige with such stalwarts at hand.
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The reorganisation of Hillside is going on apace. Several of the buildings have been dismantled and removed to new positions. This is only the preliminary work, but before long the contractors will be busy with the erection of the new plant. The installation of up-to-date appliances will be one of the first practical steps to bring about efficiency, and although the capital outlay will be heavy, it will be justified by the ultimate reduction in overhead expenses which would soon cripple a concern of such magnitude were the service allowed to fall into the state of decrepitude which must result unless the best methods are employed. This forward move on the part of the Department has the confidence of the rank and file, and is hailed as a sign of prosperity. When our passenger rolling stock is similarly improved, our traffic staff will be in a position to render better returns of revenue, and each member of the service will take a just pride in his employment. The contemplated improvements will furnish an effective answer to the sceptical.
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The acquisition of the Ngapara and Tokarahi bus services has proved the wisdom of the Department's policy of running road services where the road route is found preferable to the rail. For some considerable time the Oamaru rail passenger traffic had been decreasing, and that of the road service gaining. Instead of instituting cut throat competition, the Department wisely purchased the opposition service, and by retaining the proprietors as drivers their co-operation and goodwill was assured. The change of ownership was conducted without difficulty, and much credit is due to the energy and application of the local stationmaster, Mr. Doyle, in taking up the new duties which necessarily devolved upon him. His initiative in organising, at short notice, rural trips for parties who were deprived of an outing owing to the postponement of the Duntroon Sports, was the subject of favourable comment in the Oamaru press. Such actions greatly assist to popularise the Department and establish it as a live business organisation. The success which has attended the bus venture will have far reaching effects, and will no doubt be an influence in moulding the Department's policy in meeting similar competition in other centres.
The progress of commerce, which has advanced with the development of our productive country, has a direct effect upon our system, the evolution of the former necessitating corresponding changes in the latter in order to keep abreast with the times. It is always interesting and instructive to compare our present methods with those of past days.
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Our progress in engine construction is strikingly exemplified by the renovation of the old “Josephine,” the Fairlie Patent, which lately has been donated to the Otago Early Settlers’ Association and has found a last resting place in a position of honour in the plot adjourning the Association's Hall in Dunedin. The Early Settlers, anxious to preserve association of the heyday of their youth, sought this old engine after it had been viewed by the Exhibition crowds and saved it from the scrap heap. The chosen site is admirable; it is close to the Main Line where the latest engines pass, the old engine with her twin funnels scorning the reversible gear of these triumphs of locomotive development, and standing majestic in her tranquillity, an cloquent reminder of the difficulties of travel in the good old days. The Early Settlers are to be congratulated on their action in retaining this old land mark in the history of the Dominion.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise;
This fortress, built by nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world;
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.