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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 8 (November 2, 1936)

Railway Conscious

Railway Conscious.

Following reports from all districts in New Zealand of improvements in rail traffic—notably in reference to the larger numbers of passengers carried by train—there has been much recent comment by speakers and the press regarding the public becoming increasingly “railway-minded.”

This consciousness of the railways and of the service they perform for the public, is more than merely a pleasing sign of the times; it is the accumulated effect of years of effort and concentrated attention by the staff of the Service in pleasing the public by catering for their transport wants in such a way as to secure for them in the highest degree that “safety, comfort and economy” which forms the background of the Department's now world-famous slogan.

Railway consciousness begins with the very young if they are put in touch with railway affairs at that stage. A youngster's first railway journey is a tremendous affair, and usually follows some acquaintance with railway sights and sounds—the rush, clang and bustle of a shunting yard, the click and ring of rails, the busy life of a station platform, puffs and spurts of steam and warning blasts from hard-pressed locomotives—huge of size and portentously powerful of aspect. Then there is all the drama of movement to set the mind and imagination dancing—coloured lights, signals, uniforms—and the grace of marshalled trains. These entrance the youthful mind and nurture the romance of transport.

From this source, no doubt, is derived that large body of railway “fans” and “boosters” (advocates and supporters, to put it in purer, though weaker, English) who, although not connected in any way officially with the Railways, love to study timetables, and the history and classes of engines, and every detail of railway equipment. Some of them, with technical aptitude, make models of locomotives and trains that show not only craftsmanship of the highest type, but also a love for the subject which inspires them to a perfection of attention to the tiniest details of their work. Others, with a mathematical bent, take pleasure in preparing train diagrams, and sketching out for themselves the changes involved in the whole system by some alteration which they think might improve the service. Some sing songs about the railways, others write poems about them, others photograph them from every angle and in every phase, and others, again, just ride on the trains whenever they can make the opportunity.

The low-fare excursions, of which increasing numbers are arranged as the years go by, are proving a particularly good means for making the public “railway conscious,” and this interest amongst an increasingly large proportion of the people has a definitely stimulating effect upon members of the service.

As the railways take their passengers to the most pleasant places, and their freight in the most convenient way, nothing but good can come from increased use of the railways—particularly as they are so closely associated at every turn with the trade and commerce and general well-being of the nation. In these circumstances it is to be hoped that the ranks of the railway conscious may increase to the Nth degree!