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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)


Sudden as all such visitations are, and unpredictable (either as to location or time) from any seismological data so far assembled, the disturbance on the eastern side of the North Island, which brought disaster and grief to so many of our citizens, found the Railways immediately available for the work of both succour and evacuation in the devastated area. It supplies an epic in efficiency. Within fifteen minutes of word being received of the need, the first relief train was ready for despatch to the military camp at Tren-tham, and within twenty-four hours a comprehensive service was organised to the nearest possible point, and sufficient passenger rolling stock had been concentrated on this point to effect the evacuation of the whole area, if found necessary. Within three days, despite sunk bridges and twisted tracks, the train service was re-established right into the heart of the stricken district, and the Napier express was able to leave almost “on time” with a total of nineteen cars.

It is in times like this that the national value of railway; is most clearly demonstrated, and the existence of a well-disciplined and experienced transport organisation is seen to be a practical necessity. The manner in which the problem was dealt with by the Railways during the most acute period of strain has brought encomiums from all quarters, and adds one more to the remarkably fine record of achievements established in times of stress from flood, fire, or earthquake, during the period of railway, operation in this country.

The vital losses in life and property which have been suffered in the Hawke's Bay province are being met with that sterling type of fortitude and brotherly sympathy and helpfulness which is the true indication of national character. But while time can be relied on to heal both the human and the material effects resulting from the present shock, immediate conditions require the most careful and considerate attention of which the people of the Dominion are capable.

In the work which has fallen on the shoulders of various sections of the commuuity. page 5 the Railways have been called to bear a heavy share, and the strain placed upon certain members of the railway operating staff has been continuous and arduous. All has been borne with remarkable endurance and intelligent helpfulness which have materially assisted in the great work of succouring the afflicted.

This is a country of quick recoveries and great resources, and in the devastated region it may well be that we shall see reconstructed, within but a brief period, civic centres, with all their accompanying amenities of civilisation, finer even than those that have been destroyed; and in this work, to which efficient transportation means so much, the administration, management, and men of the Railways may be depended upon to lend every assistance within the ambit of their respective powers.