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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 12 (April 1, 1930)


To haul what the farmer grows the Iron Horse burns what the miner hews. As more than three-quarters of the total quantity of coal used on the railways of New Zealand is locally produced, the above fact has a very definite bearing on the national aspects of transport. It supplies one quite convincing reason why the rail method of conveyance should be used wherever preference as between road and rail can be given. With world prices sagging, the need for keeping the home market in a good buying condition is particularly pressing.

But the miner and the farmer are not alone affected. Every section of the community benefits if the railway returns are good, and if they are bad, feels the pinch of the tightened belt, the hungry day of the Rangitikei.

Our railways are now a highly efficient transport instrument evolved through long years of experience in the business, with their economic principles of operation fully understood and their actual financial situation in plain view.

They respond in general to the law of increasing return—the more they are used the better they pay.

In these present times, special attention should be paid by the average citizen—the business man, the employee, the manufacturer, the primary producer—to the effect that can be produced by their own actions in regard to the means they use for transport, and the relation of those actions not only to the general transport situation, but also to their actions and reactions on the welfare of the community as a whole.

The time is ripe for a straight talk to the taxpayer regarding the personal effect on himself of the present patronage accorded to services competing with the railways. The situation differs vitally from that obtaining where private railways are running. There, if the lines fail to return a reasonable profit upon the investment, the shareholders alone are the losers. They have put their money into something that proves a bad investment, and they either accept the position philosophically, or pull out at the first opportunity. Here the situation is wholly different. Here the shareholders are the people as a whole. They cannot pull out, neither can they afford to adopt a philosophical attitude. The opportunity is theirs to make the railways successful by using them or to let the railways be a deadweight on the community by failing to use them. There is no way by which this issue can be evaded. For this reason page 8 it is well that a reminder should be given the public from time to time of the fact that, to some extent, national prosperity, so far as it is affected by transport, is in their own hands.