The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
Having completed a busy transport season in the Canterbury district, few facts and figures bearing on the work of the Wagon. Office at Christchurch may prove of interest to readers of the New Zealand Railways Magazine.
The Westport Combined Railway Employees Picnic.
On March 11th about 1 000 railwaymen of the Westport section, with their wives and families, entrained for Mokihinui where they spent a most enjoyable day in picnic and games. The children (almost every one of whom received a present) were the special care of the energetic committee which planned the events of the day, and to whose efforts the success of the outing was largely due.
Last grain season was an exceptionally heavy one. This, together with the usual heavy live stock traffic with which the office was called upon to deal, kept the staff fully occupied from January until the end of April.
Requisitions for 16,712 empty wagons of all classes were dealt with during that period, each requisition being for a separate order—from one up to 100 wagons. In addition, the alterations and cancellations of original orders for live stock wagons amounted to 1155.
It is not generally known that such alterations and cancellations of orders take up a considerable amount of time. In most instances several original orders could be dealt with in the time required to deal with one order which, for some unforeseen circumstance, has to be either changed or cancelled by a client at the last moment. It is of general advantage to the Department's clients that altered orders and late orders should be kept at a minimum. Moreover, the country staff should whenever possible point out to clients the benefit of ordering their requirements early. Not only is the work of the wagon office retarded by the receipt of late orders, but also that of the shunting staff who have to break up trains to supply the wagons required. This breaking up of trains, of course, necessitates double shunting and, in addition, it frequently delays not only the double-shunted train, but other trains following and crossing.
Farmers and other country clients will be interested to have some particulars regarding “empty wagon cards” for placing on the empty trucks supplied to order at the various flag stations. This office prepared 4695 of these cards during the period from January to the end of April.
The practice in this district is to count meat vans on the basis of one “W” i.e., taking one “W” as one van, one “V” as 2 1/2 vans, and one “Vb” as 3 1/2 vans. On this reckoning 3749 vans of frozen meat were loaded in the Christchurch district during the period from January to April inclusive, necessitating the running of over 70 meat specials, each of which arrived at Lyttelton in time to commence loading at 8 o'clock each morning.
The system in operation for dealing with this particular transport work in the Christchurch office is as follows:—
Upon receipt of orders they are transcribed to a set of forms known as the “supply sheets”—one set of sheets being used for each day. During the busy season orders are received up to a fortnight ahead of requirements, and at such, times quite a number of the above sheets are used. The orders are next numbered and recorded in a wagon order book. In addition to this, the orders for live stock wagons are entered in a special stock book, ruled up in columns for H and J classes of wagons, and also containing spaces headed up for the main stock receiving page 27 stations. (The entries in the stock book are grouped under the day on which the supply has to be made.) In the Canterbury district all orders covering the transport of live stock on the day following that of the commencement of the journey, are brought forward in the stock book, in red ink, for the latter day.
On the day previous to the loading of stock, a “stock sheet” is prepared from the particulars shown in the Stock book. This Stock Book shows the particulars of stock wagons being loaded at every station for each train. Instructions to the Goods Yard Foreman in connection with the make-up of trains are prepared thrice daily from the “supply sheets”—seven copies of each set being typed. To ensure accuracy in the matter of stock wagon supply the “supply sheets” and “stock sheets” are checked with the yard orders. As a further check a number of the busier stock loading stations send a “check wire” each afternoon, giving the total of stock wagons loading for the following day and the particular station's requirements to meet these orders.
Each day, about mid-day, the officer in charge makes up a list of special trains required for the following day.
While the “stock sheets” give the accurate loading of live stock traffic, a certain amount of estimation of ordinary traffic likely to be offering for the stations generally has to be made, and this work provides much interest when the season is at its height.
The problem of special trains required entails quite a number of consultations with the Locomotive Foreman with a view to fitting in runs to conform with the engineme's hours. The matter of engine power available has also to be taken into account. Moreover, weather conditions have to be considered in connection with the special train problem.
The work of the Christchurch Wagon Office, although of a very strenuous nature during the busy season, creates a great deal of interest with the staff who carry out that work.