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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 12 (April 1, 1928.)

Current Comments

page 17

Current Comments

The Electrification of the Lyttelton Tunnel.

One of the most important works undertaken in recent years by the Railway Department (the electrification of the Lyttelton tunnel) is proceeding steadily. The poles to carry the overhead wires between Heathcote and Christchurch have already been erected, the gangs now being busy erecting the necessary poles in Lyttelton yard. With the completion of the pole erection, the work of rigging is to be commenced. Power for the operation of the trains is being brought from the Addington Sub-Station (Lake Coleridge Supply), the route for the 11,000 volt feeders, from Addington to Christchurch, having been cleared some time ago. In the tunnel itself the drills have been tried out with satisfactory results, and the erection of the necessary fittings is in hand. The powerful electric locomotives are due to arrive from England right up to schedule time, and, as far as can be seen at the moment, electric trains will be running between Christchurch and its port at the appointed time.

* * *

“Engaged in a Great National Service.”

Speaking recently at the Railwaymen's Carnival at Manchester—a carnival organised for the crowning of the Queen of Railwaymen of the United Kingdom (Miss Mabel Ruth Kitson, the daughter of a railway signalman)—the Rt. Hon. J. H. Thomas (with whom was associated Sir Ralph Wedgwood and other representatives of the companies and employees) voiced the views of the workers in the railway industry in the following well-chosen words:—

“This joint gathering involves no sacrifice of principle on either side. It is rather a demonstration of the common recognition that both are engaged in a great national service, the efficiency and success of which are our equal concern. I go further and say that, until this elementary economic truth is not only recognised but practised, there cannot be achieved the best results which will ensure a fair and equitable standard of life for the workers; and also a fair return on capital.

“Such a meeting will do much to promote a better understanding between us. It affords an opportunity for the officials to get into closer and more human contact with the rank and file, and it shows the men that the officials are really anxious to mix among other employees on a common level.

“While such an association is calculated to engender a better understanding, it will, at the same time, help to create that primary condition so essential to industrial peace—the confidence of each side in the other, because mere letter agreements, however watertight from the legal point of view, are not really worth while unless they are entered into with the genuine desire and intention to play the game.

“Efficiency must be the order of the day, and the only way to secure that is by team work.

“It is indisputable that the efficiency and safety of our British railways are second to none in the world. Our motto is service, and we intend to hand down to posterity a great transport organisation.”

* * *

Efficiency on the Indian Railways.

Mr. S. Whitehurst (Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Indian Peninsula Railways) who arrived in the Dominion recently on a holiday tour—and, incidentally, to study our own railway system—observed in an interview that labour troubles are unknown in the railway services of India. Speaking of railway conditions there he said:—“There were no unions and no interference with management, and dissatisfaction among the men was almost absent. The old Civil Service bogey of promotion by seniority had been done away with, and men were promoted purely on merit. This method was giving great satisfaction and ensuring greater efficiency. As nearly as possible I work my shops on the form principle, and we are able to assemble an engine in an hour.”

Mr. Whitehurst observed also that there were some 3,000 men employed in the locomotive department of the Jhansi shops, and over 2,000 in the car and wagon shops.

The Indian railway system was, he said, almost entirely under Government control, with a railway board of management.