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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)

Relieving Peak Traffic Congestion

Relieving Peak Traffic Congestion

Mr. R. S. Kent, Divisional Superintendent for the South Island, spoke at the last conference of executive officers in Wellington on the above subject, in the course of a five minutes address. He pointed out that during the peak period of goods traffic in the South Island, from about February to May, there was an increase of about 30 per cent. in the average goods tonnage to be handled as compared with the other months of the year. Amongst practical suggestions for relieving the congestion during the peak period he mentioned the advisability of limiting the use of engine power as far as possible for the work of the Railway and other Government Departments. Mr. Kent thought the Stores Department might help by arranging for supplies of coal, sleepers, rails and fastenings, etc., to be built up at depots during the slack months; that the Maintenance Branch could perhaps arrange for relaying and other non-urgent work to be eased off during the busy season; that the Signals Branch might lay out their work so that big works were carried out during the winter months; that the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Branch might keep their car and wagon repairs down to a minimum during the busy season, so that maximum rolling stock might be available for the peak period; and that other branches using portable huts should have these removed from wagons when the latter were urgently needed for other traffic.

Referring to other Government Departments, Mr. Kent said that the State Coal Mines might be approached to stock up during the railway slack period, and that similar action might with advantage be taken with the Public Works Department in regard to their principal requirements, and the Power Boards in the matter of pole supplies from overseas. Similarly, he thought that the Wheat Pool Board, and the owners of private siding stores might co-operate to help in spreading their traffic over longer periods, and so release wagons for other purposes. “An improvement at ports could be made,” said Mr. Kent, “if shipping agents advised captains by wireless regarding the conditions exisiting at the respective ports.” Chambers of Commerce and Carrying Agents might also assist by helpful co-operation in maintaining a more even flow of traffic which would secure greater expedition in handling for all.

The General Manager (Mr. H. H. Sterling) said that the suggestions made by Mr. Kent would help them to think along fruitful lines. “We are absorbing more than a fair share of the shocks resulting from an unregulated flow of traffic,” he continued. Some of the matters referred to by Mr. Kent had been dealt with in the annual report, and Mr. Sterling was sure a more timely subject could not have been chosen. “Let us,” he said, “educate outside bodies to a point where they will actively co-operate, then use that co-operation to soften the shocks resulting from sudden and sharp fluctuations in traffic.” The conditions referred to were not confined to Government Departments, but extended to all phases of transport. “The country,” said Mr. Sterling, “cannot go much further in expecting the Railways to find rolling stock for a few peak weeks.”

At the conclusion of the conference the General Manager arranged for a special committee to deal comprehensively with the matters opened up by Mr. Kent's remarks.