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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 12 (March 1, 1938.)

Railway Progress In New Zealand — General manager's message — Railway Expansion

Railway Progress In New Zealand
General manager's message
Railway Expansion.

The past month has seen evidence of railway expansion in many directions, among the signs being the record week of high railway revenue (week ended February 5th) when, without any special cause other than the natural increase in business, the gross revenue reached a point higher than in any previous week in the history of our Railways, not excepting Christmas and other special occasions. A further sign was in the running of the first ordinary passenger train on the newly constructed East Coast Railway between Napier and Wairoa (5th February).

Additional evidence came directly under my personal notice in a daylight rail-car trip from Auckland to Wellington. On this line, so many necessary track improvements are under way at present that, like all work of a similar kind where active operations must be maintained, they inevitably cause some temporary slowing up of traffic movement until such time as the major and permanent improvements they bring about are effected.

Amongst those causes which have imposed some temporary slowing up of speed in train movement until the works which are spread over the 426 miles between Wellington and Auckland are completed, are the construction of overbridges and subways which are to replace level crossings at several points on the Main Trunk, repairs to structures, and track improvements at several points. All of these works are reduced to an absolute minimum, and they must be proceeded with according to programme.

Although the rail-car, “Arai-Te-Uru,” on the occasion I refer to did the through journey of 426 miles in 9 hours 25 minutes, there were actually 19 points on the line at which speed restrictions ranging down to 6 miles per hour were in force, slowing up the normal speed over a total distance of 10 miles.

The cumulative effect of this series of speed checks, averaging about one in every 20 miles, on fast express trains will be readily understood by any motorist who has experienced similar speed checks when a main highway is under repair or reconstruction. With the completion of the work the temporary disability, which is quite unavoidable, is soon forgotten in the light of the lasting benefits obtained.

Hence, despite adverse comment on the occasional late running of some trains, I consider that the staff concerned, in endeavouring to maintain time-table schedules, has done very well in the circumstances which also included a record expansion of traffic coincident with the temporary checks imposed by track and road improvements of greater dimensions than usual.

When, however, the major works referred to are completed, the working of traffic will be greatly expedited, which will certainly give relief to the operating staff and considerably improve the position from the passengers’ point of view. The completion of the biggest work, the duplication of the main line on the Papakura-Ngaruawahia portion of the Auckland—Frankton run, has become particularly pressing, as this 87 mile section now carries a density of traffic amounting to over 4 million gross tons per mile of track per annum—actually 33 per cent, more than the average carried in the years 1931 to 1934, and 700,000 gross tons per mile more than in the previous record year 1929/30.

Then there are the Plimmerton-Paekakariki duplication and Kakariki-Greatford deviation which will bring about considerable operating benefits when completed.

This brief summary of conditions at present affecting train operations on the North Island Main Trunk line provides an explanation of what is being done to remove the difficulties created by operating trains over a single line of track with grades and curves probably without parallel in the world so far as a main line system is concerned.

General Manager.