The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 2 (June 1, 1932)
General Manager's Message?
General Manager's Message?
Despite the generally depressed condition of industry and trade, the Department is still able to show a steady improvement in its net revenue position. How long this can continue will depend largely upon the general course followed by the external trade of the Dominion, and in this respect the outcome of the Ottawa Conference is of considerable moment to the railways of this country. The improvement referred to above has been effected partly by a lower-fare policy, but chiefly by very heavy economies in expenditure, amounting to nearly £1 ⅔ millions in the past eighteen months. This source cannot be tapped indefinitely. There is an irreducible minimum in the cost of railway operating as the essential factors of safety and efficiency have to be steadfastly maintained. Substantial net gains may be looked for, however, if a trade revival sets in, for the railways are now ready to carry a substantially augmented passenger and freight traffic without adding materially to the cost of operating. Hence the possibility of improved Empire markets for New Zealand's primary products appears to be the main present hope for further improvement in the railway position here.
The passenger situation is becoming better stabilised as a result of the operations of the Transport Act. Freight traffic, however, is a difficult problem at present owing to competitive conditions under which the Railways as “common carriers” are at a disadvantage with road competitors who, while giving no general “common carrier” service, are eagerly catering for parcels of traffic which look tempting—easy to handle, available in bulk lots, etc.—and which the Railways depend upon to balance those other classes of traffic—difficult to handle, capable of paying only a low freight, available only in small lots, etc.—which they carry as part of their transport service to the Dominion. This uneconomic competition “rocks the boat,” cuts across the lines of any scientific adjustment in rates, and is not in the best interests of the people as a whole.
Meanwhile it is good to have such frequent evidence, as the information that reaches me from all sources presents, that the attention and courtesy of the staff as a whole is meeting with general public approval and commendation. To deserve patronage is one of the surest ways to obtain it, and the courteous and helpful attitude of the staff towards the clients of the Department has been an important feature in securing recently much new business for the Railways.