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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 5 (September 1, 1927)

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page 17

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Transportation And The University.

The degree of Master of Science in Transportation Engineering (the first degree of the kind ever granted in any country) has recently been conferred by Yale University, U. S. A.

Dairy Company Favours National Transportation System.

A pleasing feature of present day transportation in New Zealand is the swing of public opinion, including business opinion, in favour of using the Railways wherever possible as the transport agency for the country's products.

This was exemplified at the recent annual meeting of a dairy company which has a large yearly output of butter. Despite the fact that the cost of sending their produce by rail would occasion the company some additional expense, the meeting decided in favour of the rail method of conveyance.

Doubtless the national aspect had much to do with the decision arrived at, and it is gratifying to find evidence of so healthy a public spirit amongst members of what is now the Dominion's most important producing industry. The long view, which regards transportation as a necessary part of production, and sees ultimate prosperity as something only to be maximised when the country's own facilities for transport are used in the conveyance of the country's own products, is the outlook now held by all the most progressive of our people.

Gas-Electric Cars For Branch Lines.

The economic operation of branch lines is to-day one of the most perplexing problems with which railway managements everywhere are confronted. Many interesting experiments some more or less successful, have been made to solve it. One of the latest of these-an experiment for which an entirely successful outcome is claimed-is that of the Rock Island Railroad of the United States Middle West, which has recently introduced, on its branch lines, a new type of gas-electric cars.

The cars use as fuel, a cheap petroleum distillate, and are reported to be proving efficient units. Running at standard steam train-speed, each car can haul a train weighing 200 tons, and at less than half the operating cost of steam haulage.

The motive power is derived from a 275 h. p. Winton engine (placed in the front part of each car) driving a generator which feeds two direct-current motors mounted on the front truck. Each car-which is equipped with a smoking and baggage compartment-has accommodation for 77 passengers, and such is the design of its control mechanism that it can be operated without difficulty by any driver of a steam locomotive.

The Public Utility Aspect Of Railways.

The railways of New Zealand have none of the advantages (common to the railways of most countries) which follow large public endowments. Although it is understood that at one time a million acres somewhere in the King Country was actually selected for the purpose of a railway endowment-prior to the putting through of the North Island Main Trunk Line-the idea was not carried out. It is therefore interesting to note what has been done in relation to private railways in other countries.

Malcolm Keir, in his recent book “Industrial Organisation” points out that, in the United States, the loans and gifts to railroads from public authorities have aggregated 700 million dollars. In some cases the various governments -local, county, state, or national-have bought the securities of railroads; in others the interest on the securities has been guaranteed; in many others there have been loans or outright gifts of money or land. The first large land grant to a railroad was made in 1850 to the Illinois Central. Between this date and 1871 the total of land given to railroads was 242,000 square miles, an area equal to that of Texas or four times that of New England. Once, the State of Texas-in her ardour for railroads-gave away eight million more acres of public land than she actually possessed. Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, gave a fifth of their public lands to railroads;Nebraska gave a seventh, and California an eighth.