The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 5 (September 1, 1927)
What Railway Efficiency is
What Railway Efficiency is.
The true definition of railway efficiency from the standpoint of both management and employees is the largest practicable productions of ton miles and passenger miles in proportion to the number of man-hours and of tons of fuel and materials used in rendering railway service. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of increaseing efficiency as thus defined. The first is by the investment of capital in the innumerable ways by which labour, fuel and materials can be saved. In order that all the capital may be raised that can be effectively employed for these purposes, it is necessary that each railroad shall earn an amount of net return that will make it an attractive concern in which to invest capital. And in their own selfish interest the employees should always support the managements in their efforts to keep total earnings high enough and operating expenses and taxes low enough to produce an adequate net return on capital. Capital consists simply of the tools with which the personnel works, whether they be small tools in shops or such great tools as locomotives. The better these tools are, the larger, if they are skilfully used, will be the output of transportation per employee, and, if freight and passenger rates are reasonably regulated, the larger also the total railway earnings per employee out of which the average wages per employee must be paid.
The second important means of increasing efficiency is that of so organising the personnel, and of obtaining such co-operation among all the classes and individuals composing it, that the physical facilities provided by capital will be used with the greatest practical skill.
The needed organisation and co-operation of the entire personnel can never be fully attained until labour in general has the right idea regarding its own true interest. It will never have this right idea until it is given it by education. The resistance that has been offered in the past, and is offered now, to so many efforts of management to increase efficiency through improvements in plant, promotion according to merit and the payment of wages according to merit and the payment of wages according to the work done, will continue. Great exertions will have to be made to overcome it, and it will be overcome with only incomplete success as long as so many working men continue to believe that improvements in plants, in organisations and in methods are intended and adapted mainly or solely to enable capital to get more profits by making part of the employees do more work and throwing the rest out of their jobs.page break