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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)

Social Service Values

Social Service Values.

“The railways can pay only as a community investment,” Mr. Sterling continued. “You can put the debit down in £ s. d.—but what about the credit? You cannot evaluate social service, which must reach a certain standard the same as any other. Regard the problem as one of accountancy if you like, with a capital of 55 millions. If it were then said to the executive, ‘Do what you like, but make the railways pay as a self contained commercial proposition,’ the first thing one would light on would be the workers' weekly tickets. They are quite unremunerative so far as the railways are concerned. But would anyone say these ought to be abolished?” This was an example of the kind of service which the railways performed, the value of which was well known and universally accepted without question, but which value could not be stated in terms of money so as to enable the service to be shewn in the figures of the accounts.

“Looking back over the intervening years from the humble beginning of our railway system, we cannot but be struck with the pioneering work of the railway builders of those days. The construction of the Lyttelton tunnel was a large work for the Canterbury Provincial Government to undertake, and it says much for the foresight, enthusiasm and courage of the pioneers that such an important link in the transport system was brought to a successful conclusion.—Hon. W. B. Taverner.