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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)

Railways Statement, 1927. — Discussion in House occasion for fine tributes to work of N. Z. Railwaymen

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Railways Statement, 1927.
Discussion in House occasion for fine tributes to work of N. Z. Railwaymen.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to thank honourable members for the very heartening remarks they have given utterance to this afternoon and this evening. I can assure them that the effect of those remarks will be that the officers of the Railway service, from top to bottom, will continue and do their very best to improve upon the very excellent work they have done during the past year. We are all human, and it must be encouraging to the Railway officers to find that Parliament, almost unanimously, has expressed appreciation of their efforts. As Minister of Railways, I want to say that I appreciate it very much indeed; and if the press is unable to convey it to them, then I will be very glad to see to it that through their own journals the very general expressions of appreciation and congratulation are conveyed to all the officers of the staff, from the Head of the Department to the junior cadet.

In the above words did the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates, Prime Minister, speaking in his capacity as Minister of Railways, sum up his impression of the debate on the Railway Statement for 1927, at the conclusion of the discussion on 30th September last.

That impression, we are sure, was fully shared by the many railwaymen-and wives of railwaymen-who attended the House to hear the debate upon and gauge the reception of, this year's Annual Statement.

The following quotations from speeches made by Members of Parliament in relation to the way in which the work of the Department is carried on, are here recorded for the general information of railway employees throughout the Dominion.

Mr. Kyle (Riccarton): I think the Railway Department can be congratulated on the success of the Farmers' Excursion trains which have been inaugurated during the last year or so. The trains have been very beneficial to the farmers, and, I believe, have also been remunerative to the Department. I would also like to take this opportunity of congratulating those Commercial agents who so successfully undertook the transport of the farmers in the South Island.

Mr. H. Holland (Christchurch North): In the first place, I desire to offer my sincere congratulations to the Minister of Railways and his staff as a whole on the very great improvements that have been made in the Service recently, particularly in the matters of courtesy, consideration, and disposition on the part of all concerned. Members of the Service, from the highest to the lowest, appear to be always willing to consider any reasonable suggestion for the improvement of the running of the railways.

Mr. Forbes(Hurunui): I would like to say that the stationmasters who are running our Railway service in the country districts are endeavouring to the best of their ability to get whatever business is available for the railways. In this connection they are keenness itself, and every assistance is given to the public and those using the railways. It has been said that we would not be able to get the men to enter into the matter in a business spirit; but that has undoubtedly been disproved, for they are now endeavouring to place every facility at the disposal of farmers and others in order to gain business for the Railway service.

Mr. Bell(Bay of Islands): But what I want to do, in conclusion, is to most heartily compliment and congratulate the Railway staff on the splendid work they are doing now in the carrying-out of fine work under very difficult conditions. They are faced with conditions we have never had in New Zealand before-the marvellous development of the motor car; and where that is going to end I do not know. I can see that there are even more difficult times ahead of them than they have to-day. Every mile of good road that we build where that road is running close to a railway line is going to make the task more difficult. But what I want to say again is that we appreciate very much the splendid efforts the staff are making not only in the almost impossible task of making our railways payable, but to make them attractive to the public. Every one of us know and page 6 have had experience of the conditions of years ago that when you went on a railway station to board a train you felt you were under an everlasting obligation to be allowed to go there, and the railways and the tramways in this country became very unpopular indeed. To-day a complete change has taken place, and we find that every Railway officer right from the highest to the lowest is doing his best to assist the travelling public and to place the Railways in such a position in the public mind as they are entitled to. If they continue as they have been doing during the past four or five years I am sure it will be found that the people, as a body will do all they can to assist the Department in bringing the Railways to a payable state. I think it is only right, on an occasion such as this, when we have the opportunity of dealing with the Railways Statement, that we should congratulate those men who, in my opinion, are doing excellent work in the interests of the railways of the Dominion.

At Fairy Springs, Rotorua.

At Fairy Springs, Rotorua.

Mr. Glenn (Rangitikei): I wish to say that we in this country are most fortunate in the loyal service given by the employees of the Department; and the Minister of Railways can well be proud to be the head of a great State Department which, to my mind, has tackled the various problems with business-like, progressive efforts to meet the demands of the public of the Dominion. I have always had a great admiration for the employees of the Department, and I know that the services rendered by them are appreciated generally. The way in which they have met the extraordinary circumstances of the changes in the transport system is entirely to their credit. For instance, we hear of stationmasters who go out in their own time to look for business. That is the right spirit, and the only spirit which can give the Railways an opportunity of coping with the altered times. The efforts of the Minister to house the employees of the Department have been much appreciated by those interested. In most cases we have the satisfaction of feeling that the staff of the Department are at least decently and comfortably housed. I am just a little nervous as to where we are getting to, and whether it would be wise to finish the job on which we have started out. If we take the report of Mr. Hiley, and also that of the Fay-Raven Commission, it is gratifying to read their remarks upon the state of the permanent-way. There are no employees of the Department who do better work than the surfacemen, some of whom are personal friends of mine. Experts who have come from outside this country tell us that the permanent-way of the Dominion is something to be proud of. In carrying twenty-six million passengers the Department has had no fatal accidents, and that is a record to be proud of. The return of 3.39 per cent. of net earnings on the capital invested shows the benefit of the methods employed.

Mr. Dickie (Patea): Sir, I cordially agree with the remarks of previous speakers who have expressed appreciation of the railway policy generally. I want particularly to refer to our commercial agents. Every one knows that these officers have done very valuable work in connection with the Railways in recovering business from the motor services. The public and the local business men of my district have been canvassed by the commercial agents and the station-masters, and, as a consequence, 90 per cent. of the wool is passing over the railway again. In that connection a considerable number of our farmers have made small sacrifices, but they realised that even if they have to pay 1d. or 2d. a bale more in freight they are patronising their own concern. I want to say also that as far as my district is concerned the permanent-way page 7 officers and other officials of the Department have been only too willing to consider any suggestion that might be made with regard to the improvement of the yard facilities for handling stock. They have always met us in a splendid manner. Two or three of our loading-yards in my district have been greatly improved during the past year.

Mr. Hockley (Rotorua): Sir, I just want to occupy a few minutes in connection with the discussion on this important statement. I think every member has read it with pleasure and with very great interest. It is on a par with the improvement generally so far as the working of the Railways Department is concerned in recent years. Everybody to-day recognises the improvement in the Service, the way the convenience of the public is studied, and the manner in which the staff carry out their work. I want to associate myself with the remarks of the honourable member for Rengitikei in expressing appreciation of the efficient manner in which the Railway staff carry out their duties and the marked courtesy which to-day is shown everywhere throughout the Service. The successful operations of this great Department are of far-reaching importance to the Dominion.

New Locomotive Depot (under construction)Westland.

New Locomotive Depot (under construction)Westland.

Sir John Luke (Wellington North): I desire to associate myself, Mr. Speaker, with the remarks of other honourable members in congratulating the Railways Board, the staff, and all employees on the very fine position which has been achieved in connection with the running of that great institution. When we take into consideration the competition from motor-buses and motor-wagons, I think we can say that so far as our railways system is concerned this country has at the head competent men determined to do their best notwithstanding the many difficulties they have had to face. Now, I want to say a word or two in relation to the workshops. I had the honour of being one of the first engineers who worked in the Petone workshops, and as a result I have taken a great interest in the development of the workshops. At that time we had to accommodate ourselves to whatever work was required to be done by the Department, and I believe the same spirit has been manifested by the members of the Railway service right from its inception.

Mr. J. R. Hamilton (Awarua): I am very pleased to note the considerable alteration that has taken place in the relationship between the users of the railways and the staff generally. There has in the last few years been a noticeable change in the methods adopted by the Department in trying to meet the requirements of the country people in particular.

Mr. Bellringer (Taranaki): I desire to express my appreciation of the very fine work that is being done by the railway servants throughout the Dominion. There is certainly a changed spirit throughout the Service. Undoubtedly the competition brought about by the motor services has created a very difficult proposition for those who have to carry on the railway service. At the same time, there has been an earnest endeavour made to meet the new conditions, and I am quite satisfied that success will be achieved. All along the line the Department seems to be endeavouring to meet the public need and to combat the competition that has to be encountered.

Mr. Armstrong (Christchurch East): Sir, in respect of the management of our Railways, I wish to say that, taking everything into consideration-the population of New Zealand as compared with that of other countries, and the various phases of motor competition-there can be no doubt that our Railways are very efficiently managed.

Mr. Harris (Waitemata): Again I desire to congratulate the Railways Department on the marked improvement in administration. I believe that, generally speaking, the people of New Zealand recognise that they are indebted to the officers of the Department for the very great improvement in railway administration in recent years. The Department is out to cater for its customers-the public-to an extent that was not the case in past years, when the people were almost under an obligation when using their own railways. To-day the situation is changed, and the Railway officers now go out of their way to cater for the convenience of passengers and shippers of goods and produce, and it is only right that public recognition should be given to that fact.