The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)
Aprevious article dealt with the preliminary training of a recruit porter engaged in shunting work. It is now proposed to deal with more advanced phases of the subject.
Busy country stations, which are not provided with a regular shunting service, have to depend on goods train engines for shunting requirements.
Owing to the limited time allowed and the necessity for keeping time-table schedules, there are many problems for the member in charge of the shunting work. He should, when possible, make an accurate forecast of the tonnage which is going forward and find out what wagons he is likely to receive. He should inspect his yard before the arrival of the trains, ascertain the position of all wagons which are to be lifted, couple up when possible, see to correct carding and sheeting, etc., and also have a look at the loading of vehicles which will have to be shunted back to finish unloading. Much valuable time is lost by not carrying out these preliminary duties. Due regard must be paid to the daily requirements of yard work, wagons left in position for later loading and unloading, and (at times) certain movements made which will make the work of following trains much lighter.
Different stations deal with different classes of traffic, but most busy country stations have a regular general goods, dairy, produce and stock traffic. These particular lines demand efficient handling. It reflects discredit on the service if our customers are inconvenienced by faulty handling of their goods. There should be continual co-operation between the office and outside staff with regard to the working of stations, and members answering queries from the public should be able to give accurate information as to space and facilities for loading. These points do not come altogether within the scope of shunting duties, but experience proves that possession of full information as to general requirements of traffic, help a good deal in laying out work. The bugbear of train delays and “please explains” cannot be overlooked here, but members can rest assured that necessary work carried out to facilitate the Department's business will always receive recognition.
Attention should be paid to the engine tonnage schedule, and members should be fully conversant with the capability of engines working their stations and section.
The system of providing shunting engines for busy stations is being extended and, with this extension, there comes the call for greater efficiency in shunting work. Old time methods where memory played the most important part in the shunter's qualification, have been discarded, and in place thereof has been built up a system which depends on carefully prepared written schedules for the control and guidance of shunting work. It would be quite impossible to detail any system which would fit the varying conditions in different centres. The general practice is to perform routine work under a scheduled system and to make the best arrangements for dealing with emergency and seasonal traffic. It is in these latter cases that, very often, our service works at a disadvantage. The work offering at many of our yards and junctions has outgrown the railway facilities available at the moment, and the very best human effort often fails to fully meet the situation. We can, however, keep on doing our best with present facilities until such time as they are modernised generally, when the railway service will be in a better position to deal with the traffic offering. The shunting staff can do much to assist under conditions such as the above, and careful observation and anticipation will help to overcome difficulties.
It must be remembered that delay in loading operations becomes very expensive when labour is standing idle waiting for trucks. This is especially so at shipping ports, and it is under such circumstances that motor transport gets its opportunity. To-day there are very few railwaymen who do not realise the menace of this competition, and if each member will determine that as far as he is able there will be no cause for complaint, then we may hope for a yet page 13 further increase in business with a corresponding betterment of conditions for the staff.
In summing up, it can be said that we should aim at method and system in laying out shunting work so that all cases which may arise will be provided for. This can be done by each member becoming thoroughly familiar with his own part of the duty schedule and planning out the quickest and most efficient way of carrying out his part. It helps also to have a knowledge of the working of the dovetailing parts of other duties: for instance, the shunter can, with advantage, know something of the system by which lists for train loading are compiled. The passenger shunter will gain by learning the itinerary of car services after they leave the station. Under emergency conditions he is then in a better position to judge as to the next best thing to do. In fact what should be aimed at is training which will enable the shunting staff to deal with such situations as are just off the regular routine. The main objectives are for each one to do his best with his own job; to try and help the other fellow; and always to remember that the interests of the public and the Department are also the interests of the railway staff.
Engines That Have Run Their Race.
Having outlived their utility as efficient transport agents the locomotives illustrated above (giants of a former day) were recently deposited in the bed of the Oreti River, Southland, to serve as a protection to the railway embankment which is liable to erosion by flood waters. The passing of these locomotives from the active list closes one chapter in the Dominion's railway history.