The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 12 (April 1, 1930)
An extension of the facilities provided for reservation of seats by intending passengers on the New Zealand Railways, and improvements in the system of making and recording these reservations have been arranged. The new system now about to be introduced is briefly outlined in the following article.
Formerly the fee for reservation was ninepence per passenger, and, if the passenger reserved at an “out-station,” he was required to pay an additional fee of ninepence to cover the cost of the telegram to the main station at which the lists were held and the reservations made. The fee has now been fixed at a flat rate of one shilling. This covers the cost of the reserving and telegraph or other fees involved.
Fourteen was the maximum number of days in advance of date of travel that any passenger could make reservation, and personal application at the booking office was necessary. Now, however, arrangements for reservation may be completed at any time desired, and passengers unable to call at the booking office may make tentative arrangements by telegram or telephone and complete the transaction as arranged between the passenger and the booking clerk.
Numbering And Recording Machine.
1. Recorder; 2, safety catch to prevent involuntary operation of machine; 3, safety catch to prevent the numbers being out of step with recorder; 4 and 9, rubber stamping; pad; 5, 6, 7, 8, shewing (5) ticket after being numbered; (6) the booking clerk's identification letter; (7) progressive number of ticket; (8) name of issuing station.
Coincident with the improved facilities for booking seats, it became necessary to devise improved methods of dealing with the business.
Under the old system, the booking clerks were supplied with a plan of each class of carriage and a berthing list. When a passenger desired to reserve a seat, the booking clerk issued a paper ticket on which the following entries were required before the ticket was handed to the passenger: station of issue; date of issut; stations from and to; number of seats and amount paid; details of seats reserved[unclear: ;] train and date of travel; signature of issuing officer. The necessary entries had also to be made on the berthing plan.
Attention to all this detail took considerable time and the possibility of errors (and the difficulty in locating such errors) was ever present, especially when other offices in the same centre were working on an allotment of the seats and the station itself was making reservations from “out-stations.”
After a considerable amount of investigation it was decided, in order to hasten the work and to reduce, as far as possible, the risk of duplication page 30 of reservations, to adopt a card system. Briefly stated, the method is as follows:—
For convenience in reserving seats, each car is given a letter designation, and, as far as possible, these letter designations are standardised; for instance:—The letter Z represents a first-class smoker; B, a second-class smoker; Y, a first-class non-smoker; C, a second-class non-smoker; and L, a ladies’ car.
Each car is allotted a card, perforated into a number of tickets, corresponding with the number of seats in the car. The tickets are complete, except that, at time of issue, the destination station is to be entered thereon. Arranged immediately behind the card is the corresponding office list and, as a ticket is removed, the duplicate seat number on this list becomes visible. In this manner the particulars in reference to station from and to which passenger is travelling, may easily be entered without any risk of the wrong space being utilised for this purpose.
As a passenger is allotted a seat, the ticket is merely detached from the perforated card and the necessary entries (stations from, and to, which seat is reserved) made on the office copy.
This office copy is handed to the guard on the departure of the train.
Each booking clerk is supplied with a numbering machine which registers in one action, on the back of the ticket, its progressive number and the station of issue, the booking clerk then merely having to insert the passenger's destination station.
The numbering machine has on it a device which shows on a visible register the number of the last ticket issued. Thus the accounting is extremely simple, the daily debit in shillings being merely the difference between the opening and closing numbers.
There are a number of interesting and useful features embodied in the numbering machine. For instance, it cannot be operated unconsciously, and, on account of an ingenious attachment which renders erroneous manipulation impossible, the registering device must shew the same number as the stamping machine.
Full provision has been made for reservations required from “out-stations” and also for several reservations of the same seat for different stages of the journey between the terminal stations. The method is to use the card ticket for the first reservation, and paper tickets (with carbon duplicates) for subsequent reservations of the same seat, such reservations being checked at the close of business each day.
Arrangements are made for two or three offices reserving on the same train by marking off the tickets allotted to the other offices, provision also being made, whenever necessary, for the exchange of such seats between the different offices.
The cards, which are 11in. × 9in., are housed in Kardex cabinets. Forty-four cards are accommodated in one tray, and nine trays make up one cabinet. Approximately, the cards for a train for three days are housed in one tray, and one cabinet holds the cards for one train for a month.
In order to expedite booking and prevent the possibility of error, different coloured tickets are used for different classes of cars.
For “out station” reservations there is a system of code words for the respective trains and the respective classes of seats. These are printed with other necessary information on the visible portions of the cards in the trays, that telegrams received may be decoded with a minimum of trouble.page 31
There is also provision for a system of signalling on the visible portion of the cards, when in the Kardex tray. By this means it can be seen at a glance how the reservations are proceeding. For instance—
Red: Car full.
Blue: Car full from station of departure, but seats available for reservation from intermediate stations.
Yellow: Do not book this car till Z car is booked up.
When the tickets are being prepared for the trays, particulars in regard to the date and time of departure of the train are endorsed on the tickets by means of an adjustable metal disc date stamp.
The system has had a thorough trial and has been found satisfactory in every respect. The risk of error is reduced to a minimum, the tickets are fully printed and therefore more legible to passengers than written tickets, and the work is performed in a minimum of time. It is possible, during rush periods, to divide the booking among any number of clerks and afterwards return to normal working without any disorganisation of the system. The cost is less, and accounting simple and effective.
During a recent four-weekly period, the Wellington reserved seat offices issued no less than 14,500 reserved seat tickets for passengers travelling from Wellington, besides allotting seats for a very large number of passengers joining trains (which departed from Wellington) at “out-stations.”
Mr. G. T. Wilson of the Head Office staff of the New Zealand Railways is principally responsible for the details of the scheme, and Mr. F. Freed in charge of the Mechanical Branch of the Chief Accountant's office is responsible for the registering and numbering devices embodied in the new system.