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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

General Manager's Message — Difficult Times

page 7

General Manager's Message
Difficult Times.

An indication of the world-wide depression in railway business is given in the records of the principal railway companies operating in the various countries. In Great Britain for the first seven weeks of 1931, and following a year which produced heavy declines when compared with the previous one, the four group companies shewed these decreases—Great Western 16.2%, London, Midland and Scottish 9.7%, London and North Eastern 10.5%, and Southern 4.3%. Amongst other overseas and foreign railways which published weekly returns there have been even more serious declines in most of the principal companies, and decreases to some extent in every one of them.

Under such conditions the only course to pursue in regard to outgoings is to reduce expenditure to the utmost extent consistent with efficiency. Upon this point it is interesting to hear that the Rt. Hon. Viscount Churchill, Chairman of Directors of the Great Western Railway, in commenting on the financial results of his Company for 1930 remarked that there was a decrease of £1,837,186 in receipts and that the gross expenditure had decreased by £982,314.

“This,” he continued, “is more than 50 per cent. of the reduction in the gross revenue, and is a result which, I think, you will all agree with me, reflects the greatest credit on all concerned …”

Acting on a like principle the London, Midland and Scottish Railway effected savings of £2,080,735 against a reduction of £4,953,839 in gross railway receipts, or something less than 50 per cent.

In following a similar line of action upon our railways here the decrease in expenditure for the year ending 31st March will be in the vicinity of 75 per cent. of the reduction in the gross revenue, a result which compares very favourably with that achieved by the most successful of overseas railways.

These are difficult times, and the economies now enforced are of a kind which normal conditions of trade would not require; but they have this advantage, that when business does recover we will be in a position to make the best use of it by reaching the present maximum operating capacity more quickly than would otherwise be possible, and then letting out sail only upon such courses as the future trend of our business demands.

Adjustments and Economy Measures.—Since the New Year we have been busy adjusting the railway machine to the new conditions produced by slackness of trade. This has involved a wider spread of the load to be carried by individual members of the service, and in this work I wish again to acknowledge the helpful adaptability of my chief executive and other officers and the staff generally in such readjustment.

Typical of the economy measures now in train is the evolution by our technical staff of a new type of locomotive which will save a large percentage of the banking now necessary in various parts of New Zealand, and help to produce a better operating figure in train and engine mileage. In this and other ways our costs of operation are being reduced to assist in striving towards our ideal—all needful service at the lowest possible cost.

General Manager.