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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)


The whole question of goods transport is so closely associated with competitive conditions arising out of motor truck development that concentrated attention is now being devoted by railway executives the world over to containers for terminal traffic. In these they see a possible solution of the difficulties met with in their endeavour to give a door-to-door transport service for merchandise.

In a recent number of “Modern Transport” it is pointed out that door-to-door transit of goods by railway-owned containers has passed the experimental stage in Great Britain, and a gratifying measure of success has been achieved. The traders have expressed satisfaction with the scheme, which gives many of the advantages of a private siding, minimises the risk of damage and pilferage, saves handling, and effects considerable economy in packing, in the cost of packing materials, and in the carriage thereof. On their part, the railway companies have seen a return for their outlay in a steady but appreciable return to rail of traffic which ordinary conveyance had failed to retain. As a general rule, the railway companies add a small percentage charge the addition is small, being often as low as five per cent., but, as the addition is small, being often as low as five per cent., and usually representing less than the saving effected on packing costs, the supplement is considered a reasonable business arrangement. Container-conveyed goods are charged at net weight only, nothing being added for the weight of the receptacle.

At the Fifth World Motor Transport Congress held at Rome in 1928, Signor Silvio Crespi initiated a movement which has now resulted in a competition, organised by a representative group of transport bodies, to determine the best system of container for international traffic.

In stating the conditions of this competition the joint committee announces that it is desired to find the most practical solution of the problem of combined goods transport, by rail, sea and road, in order to reduce as far as possible the cost of packing, storing and sorting, and to convey the goods from the point of production to the point of consumption by the most rapid and economical means.

Although numbers of containers have been tried out, designers have still to produce a container suitable for universal adoption. The greatest interest will, therefore, centre round this competition which may be expected to spur inventors and manufacturers to fresh efforts in order to win both the valuable prizes offered for designs and page 6 the business which will accrue to those holding patents for the best types of containers.

In New Zealand, as in other countries, door-to-door collection and delivery of goods traffic, if it could be done by the use of adaptable and easily handled containers, would greatly reduce packing and transhipment costs for rail-borne goods and would be particularly useful for through booked inter-Island traffic. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the competition above referred to may produce a container of outstanding merit such as any railway might adopt with confidence.