The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)
The Call for Co-operation. — Captains of Commerce and Industry
The Call for Co-operation.
Captains of Commerce and Industry.
The Railway Department does not own the railways; they belong to New Zealand's people. When the owners have a proper sense of ownership of this enterprise in which £49,000,000 is already invested, they will do their best to help their own managers (the Department) to “make the railways pay.”
New Zealand's people have a tendency to regard the problems of their own railways as things which concern only the Department entrusted with the management; but that is obviously not the wisest attitude for the general taxpayers, who are really the shareholders. The further the railways go back on the road of revenue, the deeper will be the dip into the Consolidated Fund.
This year's Railway Statement has shown that not all the ways and means of gaining and maintaining an adequate revenue for the railways are within the control of the managers unless they have the right measure of co-operation from the owner-users. The owners must banish any notion of “loose-hold” of the railways; it must be “use-hold.”
Whatever may have been the old-time Mahomet-like attitude of the railways to the mountains of business when the Department had practically a transport monopoly, the new order of to-day is very different. Mahomet has rather become Mercury, speeding among the mountains.
In those old days, when regulations rose in ramparts about the railways, it was said that the authorities were prone to forget that the people were the real owners of the railways, but that pose has passed away. To-day the Department is alert and eager to give the people the best possible use of their own railways, at the least possible cost.
The other day a leading article in one of the newspapers held that if the State Railways were a private enterprise they would pay handsomely, but the writer did not set out the lines on which private ownership would make its handsome profit out of the public. A general statement of that kind is not helpful either to the present owners of the railways or their managers. It is like vaguely telling a traveller to go north, south, east or west, without indicating any of the roads.
However, among the many users of the railways, there are some who can offer adoptable or adaptable advice on matters of which they have acquired sound knowledge, here or elsewhere. To such constructive well-wishers the Department does not present a wooden ear. It will be always pleased to receive helpful suggestions.
During recent years Chambers of Commerce, Manufacturers' Associations and other organisations must have observed a ready willingness of the Railway Department to make the service meet New Zealand's needs. Those organisations are heartily invited to act as candid friends in regard to possibilities of improvements.
The railways are here to stay. Changes may come for certain sections of lines, but the system as a whole must continue for the national welfare. Whether the continuance is to be at a profit or a loss-in accordance with the customary business view of profit and loss-is a question which the owners must help to answer.
Various aspects of this subject of co-operation between the owners of the railways and their managers will be discussed in a special series of articles in the “Railways Magazine” beginning with the next issue.