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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 4 (August 1, 1927)

The Sale of Transportation

The Sale of Transportation.

There is, no doubt, a good deal of difference between selling, say a bar of soap, and selling railway travel. In their essentials, however, both tasks have much in common. In almost every business transaction salesmanship holds an all-important place, and in the railway world there is certainly tremendous scope for the development of improved salesmanship.

In Britain, the railways are this year devoting vast attention to this vital problem. In the campaign for improved salesmanship a big part is being played by the interesting of the staff generally in the employment of courtesy and pleasing manners; by improved canvassing machinery and a reorganisation of the working in the publicity offices scattered throughout the country; and by more scientific advertising of every kind. Railway workers of all grades now appreciate how closely interlinked are their own personal interests and those of the railway management. Individual employees are to-day, entirely on their own initiative and without thought of additional pay, doing much in their leisure hours to gain the goodwill of the public, thereby bringing valuable business to rail and consolidating their own positions. This is an especially happy state of affairs. It augurs well for the future of the Home lines, for with every employee acting as a keen canvasser for rail transport within his own immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, success becomes certain.

With road competition conducted on such keen lines, the need for personal interest on the part of every individual employee in the securing of traffic to rail has become very real. Phenomenal indeed is the progress of road transport in Britain. Many single road transport undertakings to-day thoroughly cover page 19 territory as extensive as that served by the larger individual railways prior to grouping, and the lesson is there for every railwayman to read.

As I dictate this letter, there lies before me a copy of the current issue of the public time-book published by one typical road transport undertaking specialising in passenger movement. This particular concern operates 120 distinct services, covering 1,250 route miles, and tapping towns and villages with a population of four million people. There are 224 pages in the book, which is sold at twopence per copy. Five pages are devoted to a list of services, and there then follow 22 pages giving a very complete alphabetical index of places served. The detailed time-tables occupy 121 pages, while the closing portion of the book embraces fares lists, rules and regulations, a handy calendar, information as to markets and early closing days, and a free insurance coupon against accidents when travelling. Perusing a publication such as this, one readily realises the remarkable ramifications of the presentday road carrying organisation. Small wonder that the three big railway unions-the National Union of Railwaymen, the Railway Clerks' Association and the Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen-have at last joined forces with the railway managements in their efforts to put the business of road transport upon a fair competitive basis.