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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)

Co-ordination of Rail and Road Services — Recommendation of Royal Commission

page 10

Co-ordination of Rail and Road Services
Recommendation of Royal Commission

“To what extent it is possible and desirable, in the interests of the economic welfare of the Dominion, to co-ordinate rail and road transport, having due regard to the rights of owners of road transport services, the necessity of a satisfactory standard of service and all other relevant considerations.”

The Royal Commission on Railways, to whom the foregoing question was submitted for investigation, makes the following interesting reference to the subject in their Report, recently presented to Parliament.

If by co-ordination of road and railway services is meant the utilization of these means of transport to the best advantage of the community from an economic point of view, your Commission is of opinion that, under existing conditions, it is not possible to co-ordinate rail and road transport unless the full control and operation of all such transport is vested in one authority. The whole matter, however, is one which requires a large amount of careful study and investigation, which, in the time at our disposal, your Commission is unable to give.

However, your Commission is of the opinion that it is essential that motor transport, particularly that engaged in freight service, be licensed, regulated, and controlled by a properly constituted authority, which would require to take all factors into consideration before licenses are granted. The effect of existing competition between railway and road is to increase the cost of transporting primary products and the lower-class goods, which usually are not carried by motor transport, and to reduce the costs on higher-rated goods and on general merchandise. The average railway rate on goods carried last year was 2.32d. per ton per mile. This is much lower than is possible by motor transport.

Owing to the loss in railway revenue from goods and passenger traffic, the average rate on goods carried will have to be increased, and, as the great bulk of the traffic is primary products and lowrated commodities, the increase will fall on them. The diversion of passenger traffic from the railway to the motor-vehicle has caused a large and continued decrease in passenger revenue, and will have the effect of materially increasing the goods rates, if losses are to be arrested.

It is uneconomic and most inadvisable that the cost of transporting primary products or of materials necessary for their production should be forced upwards, and is against the interests of the Dominion; but if motor transport is permitted full scope in all districts, without restriction, the effect will be to increase the total cost of transport and cause economic loss.

Under some conditions it is apparent that motor transport on all classes of goods will be more economical than railway transport, and should be permitted and encouraged; but in view of the fact that trunk railways are necessary for connecting distant centres and for the carriage of passengers and all classes of goods between them, as well as for the development of the Dominion, the folly of allowing unrestricted motor transport along these routes, which is, on the whole, more economically given by the railways must be apparent, and should, in our opinion, be permitted only in cases where it can be shown to be warranted.

For the purpose of co-ordinating rail and motor services it will be necessary to introduce legislation to provide for the establishment of a suitable authority to make regulations for the license, control, and regulation of motor transport throughout the Dominion. We recommend that consideration be given to the question of enacting the necessary legislation.