The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)
The Railway and Its Friends
The Railway and Its Friends
In surveying the general situation of the railways to-day it is perhaps too much the habit to direct attention to the hostility concentrated upon them, usually from quarters having financial interests in means of transport to which railways success spells menace. The prophet of old who felt that the world at large was against him and his cause, gained assurance that he was not deserted from the thunder, the rain, and the “still small voice.” So may confidence and the winning spirit be revived and restored in the ranks of the railways, and in those responsible for them, by a review of those who by word and deed constantly prove their attachment to the rail as a means of transport for passengers and freight.
First, of course, there are the children, who one and all are fascinated by the sights and sounds associated with stations, yards, locomotive and train movements, tunnels, signals and so on. Some of these never outgrow their early interest in this, the most powerful form of motion for which the skill of man is responsible. So we find men like our legal friend in Hamilton who will travel up and down in the parlour car of the Rotorua Limited for the sheer joy of examining the clever and convenient additional appliances that this king among cars contains, or our photographer friend at Auckland who never misses a chance to snap anything new or old that appears worth while in the record and realm of the rail. If our publicity work is rightly performed the interest of children in the railways will continue to increase as they grow older, and they will tend to take more pleasure in the history, shape and sound of an old railway whistle than in the tomb of Napoleon, Bradman's averages or the records of racehorses.
Then we have the big business man who takes the broad view of railway services, recognises their economic necessity and the general low average of the charges they make for the services they perform. He has no hesitation in giving the order “send everything by rail,” because he knows that, on the general average, his firm's costs will be lower and the service received more satisfactory than if he were to peddle his transport work sectionally. The good housekeeper knows that it is better to find a good grocer and stick to him than page 6 to wear out shoe-leather, waste time, and risk the possibility of inferior brands by calling from shop to shop to find the lowest price at which each of the various articles required can be obtained.
Other good friends of the railways in this country are the Chambers of Commerce, the Farmers’ Unions, and the Commercial Travellers’ Associations. The membership of these bodies is usually made up of those more or less directly interested in transport. They know the difficulties that have to be overcome and can size up the amount of organisation and concentration upon the job required to produce the necessary power and carrying capacity wherever needed, and at the briefest notice, for all kinds of passenger and freight traffic throughout the railway system of this Dominion.
The concensus of opinion amongst ordinary travellers appears also to be friendly—there are many more commendations than complaints. Then friendly help is rendered by local carriers in most of the localities nowadays, and although this has an element of self-interest in it at times, such help and support is none the less real and deserves every encouragement.
We have it in our own hands largely whether this assembly of friends shall increase or decrease—for friendship is nothing unless reciprocal and even business enemies may be turned to friends by business skill and courtesy, while clashing interests may be made to chime together by co-ordination of effort applied in a national spirit. The only fight that is worth while is that which is conducted in the public interest and with the achievement of better service in view. But a survey of our friends beyond the borders of the railway gives us assurance that our efforts are not unwatched and our services are genuinely acknowledged.
The Royal Commission on Railways.
The following is the text of a letter of appreciation addressed to the General Manager of Railways, Mr. H. H. Sterling, by the Secretary to the Royal Commission on Railways (Mr. F. K. Mackay), upon the conclusion of the Commission's work of investigation into the working of the various branches of the Railways Department.
I have been directed by the Royal Commission on Railways to extend to you as General Manager of Railways its thanks for the valuable and ever ready assistance which you rendered to the Commission during its investigations into matters connected with the Department. More particularly the members of the Commission desire me to place on record their appreciation of the prompt and thorough manner in which you personally, and also the various members of your staff, responded to their many requests for statistical and other information.page break