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

Aptitudes

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Aptitudes

The conscious development of aptitudes is one of the features of modern education. It is also, without being so particularly expressed, the main feature in modern business. The same notion has of course been understood and practised by individuals from time immemorial. In the fields of fashion there are many extremely interesting historical records of fashions being adopted either to hide or display the physical idiosyncrasies of individuals. Byron, it will be remembered, suffered from foot deformity, and it is thought that this, preying on his mind, tended to embitter his outlook on life. As a relief he sought excellence in swimming, where the disability ceased to be of much moment.

The ancient wisdom contained in the proverb “In the country of the blind, the oneeyed man is king” has come to have special significance in regard to business relations at the present day. All progressive business consists in a ceaseless search for points of advantage that may help the individual business as compared with others—ceaseless because the factors that make up the conditions under which commercial competition progresses are constantly changing in number, scale, and relative significance.

So it has come about that the railways of to-day are engaged in a campaign of sorting, readjusting and reassembling to develop those features of their service in which they are able to supply the public with exceptional, and, if possible, exclusive transport facilities—exclusive, that is, in the sense that their equivalent cannot be supplied by any other means of transport.

The point has recently been made by British and American journals that the very congestion created on the roads through the increased number of privately-owned motor cars may be turned to the comparative advantage of the Railways, and pointed attention has been drawn to the action of the Insull Lines, a system which serves the country outside Chicago. Here the advertisements stress the fact that greater speed and greater safety are available to the citizens of Chicago visiting the nearby holiday resorts by comfortable electric trains rather than by motoring on the congested main roads. An intensive campaign has resulted in owners leaving their cars at home and going by rail.

Similar action has been taken elsewhere, by steam operated lines, and here in New Zealand already on certain race-days there is a developing tendency to revert to the railway for the same reason. New Zealand railway endeavours to develop along specialised lines in transport efficiency have found expression in two types of transport not previously tried out, and in both cases marked success has been achieved. These types are the farmers’ trains and the commerce page 7 trains; the second of the latter for the Auckland district is to leave the Queen City on the 15th of the present month for a nine-days' tour of the Northern part of New Zealand. The running of these types of trains has emphasised the fact that no other means of transport could so effectively aid towards the desired end of giving fast, comfortable, low-priced transport for large parties of similarly interested groups during a tour covering an extended area in a necessarily limited period of time. In every instance where these special type trips have been organised their success has been acknowledged directly by those who made the special journeys and indirectly by the fact that future trips of the same kind have been planned and carried through.

There are many other points of advantage which the railways can offer, but the above are mentioned as an indication of the general tendency of the times in the direction of developing the aptitudes of business as well as the aptitudes of individuals in the course of the world's steady advance towards a higher civilisation.

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.

Well-Merited Success

Miss M. V. Roussell, M.A., a graduate of Victoria University College, Wellington, was recently successful in passing the State and Hospital examinations in massage at Dunedin, heading the list in each case.

Miss Roussell, who is a daughter of Mr. P. G. Roussell, General Superintendent of Transportation, N.Z.R., is a past pupil of the Jubilee Institute for the Blind.