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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3 (July 1, 1927)

Parcels Traffic by Train. — Modernising The System. — Introduction of Simplified Accounting Methods

page 16

Parcels Traffic by Train.
Modernising The System.

Introduction of Simplified Accounting Methods.

For thirty years the scale of charges for the conveyance of parcels by rail has remained unaltered, except for the provision of an additional zone for distances of over 300 miles.

During the same period the costs of handling and conveyance have increased by 250 per cent. On the other hand, very great improvements have been made in the train services, so that parcels are now given more prompt despatch and speedier conveyance. Yet no additional fees have been imposed for express transit.

In spite of the ever-increasing volume of traffic, the acceptance of parcels, up to within half-an-hour of the departure time of the train by which they are to be despatched, has been continued. Urgent or perishable parcels are frequently accpted almost until the ringing of the starting bell.

The Department can claim, with confidence, that in many respects it gives better service at a lower cost than any other form of transportation. In comparison with the charges for conveyance of parcels by the railways of Australia or South Africa, the rates in New Zealand are on a much lower scale. The maintenance of express transit services at such low rates and with so narrow a margin of time between the acceptance and despatch of parcels has become a matter of increasing difficulty-more especially at main stations dealing with a large volume of traffic.

The introduction of parcels stamps, though it has reduced clerical labour, has not in itself been sufficient to effect any material reduction in the time required for handling the business.

A careful analysis of labour and costs shows that the greater part of the terminal expenses are caused by the preparation of waybills from the consignment notes furnished by consignors, and by the writing up of records at receiving stations. Full particulars of every parcel tendered for conveyance are written up, firstly by the consignor, secondly on the way-bill and finally in the receiving station delivery books.

The consignment-note in itself shows practically all the details required to record the whole transaction from the time the parcel is despatched from the sender's warehouse, until it is delivered to the consignee at its destination. The present form is prepared in duplicate, one copy to furnish a receipt to the sender, and the other to provide a record of the transaction at the fowarding station. By the use of another sheet of carbon paper, a triplicate form can be prepared (with practically no additional expense or labour) which will take the place of a waybill, and provide a record at the receiving station on which the receipt of the consignee can be obtained. Provision can readily be made on the consignment note-waybill for the insertion of charges for accounting purposes.

Another fruitful source of delay and expense to both sender and railway is the failure of many regular consignors to present parcels at the receiving counters stamped ready for despatch. A parcel which is tendered with freight stamps affixed, and with the weight declared on the consigment-note, can be dealt with in about half the time required when such preparation has not been made. The Department has printed and distributed, to all stations, posters showing the parcels scale of charges. These will be supplied gratis on application.

To enable the railways to maintain the present low rates, prompt despatch after acceptance and express transit by passenger trains, a new form of consignment-note, waybill, and receipt, prepared simultaneously by the sender by means of carbon paper, will shortly be introduced. Consignors will thus be asked to co-operate with the Department in its endeavours to meet higher costs by more efficient working rather than by increased charges.

A similar system has been in use in New South Wales for many years with highly satisfactory results, so that the proposal is by no means in the nature of an untried experiment.

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What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think.-Emerson.