The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 4 (August 1, 1927)
The Board's Message. — The Year's Work
The Board's Message.
The Year's Work.
As anticipated in the Board's message relating to the financial year 1925–26, the results for the year which ended on 31st March, 1927, showed less buoyancy in traffic than the preceding one.
The Exhibition at Dunedin, falling almost entirely within the earlier year, supplied us with a welcome flood of passenger and subsidiary traffic to compare with which the year just ended had nothing to offer.
It is therefore necessary to look back to 1925 to find a measure for useful comparison in normal progress recorded.
Taking these three successive years, it is seen that the passenger journeys, which (largely under the influence of Exhibition business) increased by 1 1/2 millions for 1926, have dropped back to slightly below the 1925 level, the former year (1925) showing 26,106,859 and the latter (1927) 26,002,137 passenger journeys. An increase in passenger traffic over the average of recent years might have been expected in 1927 had not the low prices for exported products and the adverse balance of trade seriously interfered with the amount available for pleasure travelling. The actual increase recorded in goods tonnage indirectly bears this out.
The traffic in goods, which showed the substantial increase of 206,000 tons between 1925 and 1926, has shown a further increase of 25,000 tons for 1927, the gross total for 1927, viz., 6,833,436 tons, being the highest ever recorded. Livestock tonnage also indicates a steady increase, the figures being:-1925, 430,852 tons; 1926, 447,539 tons; and 1927, 475,013 tons.
Between 1926 and 1927 the train mileage increased by 400,000 and the engine mileage by over 500,000 miles. The significance of these figures, in relation to the actual traffic handled, is that increased mileage has been incurred in providing better and more convenient train services-in some instances in excess of bare present requirements-with a view to making the services more attractive and thereby encouraging new traffic. The latter, of course, takes time to develop, whilst the increased cost of expanded services is immediate, a result which partly explains the decrease of 4 3/4 d. in the net operating earnings per train mile. Better results from the policy adopted in this regard are hoped for in the year upon which we have now entered.
The net earnings for the year are £1,943,774, a decrease of £48,560 compared with 1926, but £376,665 more than the 1925 total, and £169,540 better than was anticipated in the year's forecast.
The annual interest charges, however, now amount to over £2,000,000, an increase of £130,122 since last year, chiefly accounted for by the taking over of a further 54 miles of unremunerative branch lines. Thus, the final result of the year's work shows a deficit of £99,659.
The expenditure included an increase in the amount contributed to the Superannuation Fund, the subsidy to which, for the year, totalled £175,000.
The trade depression period has had a detrimental effect on our operating figure in two directions. The unemployment arising therefrom has adversely affected our revenue, and, in order to avoid adding to the unemployment problem, the Department has kept on numbers of workshops employees whose services, otherwise, could have been dispensed with, thus making our expenses higher than strictly business management warranted.
One bright feature in the year's review was the excellent spirit displayed by all ranks in carrying out the transport work in connection with the visit of their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of York.
Road competition is still severe, both in passenger and goods traffic, but the Board has received indications from many quarters that the Railways are regaining lost ground, particularly where uneconomic competition was most marked, and its own experiments with road services are supplying valuable data which will enable the competitive phase to be handled with more assurance in future.
In conclusion the Board desires to express satisfaction with the manner in which the staff in general have handled their work throughout the year, and the good progress that has been made in supplying still better service to those who use the rail. The public have shown generous appreciation of the efforts made in their behalf, and by their friendly attitude towards, and full support of, the Railways, have given the Department every encouragement to continue confidently along its present lines in administering to the transport needs of the community.page break