The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3 (July 24, 1926)
The Board's Message
The Board's Message
The opening words of Abraham Lincoln's first public speech are;—“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” The Board consider these words are specially applicable to our service at the present time. We are very gratified to see and congratulate the staff on the keenness with which so many of them have entered for the correspondence classes in traffic working. Already the entrants number some 1,400 and it is especially pleasing to note that some 200 belong to Division 2.
The classes already working in accountancy, tariff matters, and traffic instructions, are but the forerunners of many others. Arrangements are well in hand for classes in locomotive practice, maintenance work, and stores control, and it is firmly anticipated that these will be availed of with the same enthusiasm as those already commenced.
Following these it is hoped to establish classes in pure and applied mathematics, literature, etc.
Training in the working of mechanical appliances such as signals, valve motions, headlights, steam heating, air brakes, etc., by the use of models and cut sections has been commenced in a small way, and this is a feature which we hope largely to expand.
It will be found of great advantage to members taking the classes that the subjects under study are largely those with which they are dealing in their daily work. A good technical knowledge enables work to be done quickly and well and without the strain inseparable from duties imperfectly understood.
Members will also find that with technical facility they have gained the first requisite for valuable mental activity.
The day of rule of thumb methods has passed, and few people nowadays will be found bold enough to advocate the preeminence of the man with a purely practical training.
Disraeli defined a practical man as one who practised the errors of his forefathers. The definition may be considered somewhat sweeping when applied to the early days of railways when the good practical man was invaluable. To-day with the many problems of transportation awaiting solution it is not sufficient to merely carry on with recognized past practice. Constant analysis of operations is necessary with the view to improving services, shortening methods and reducing costs.
The problems awaiting solution or adjustment are many, some external to the organization—such as the creation of a public opinion that will recognise what the railways have done and are doing for the assistance of industry; others appertaining to the organisation—such as the creating and maintaining of morale, the wise control of the human element and labour conditions, the securing of a fair output for the expenditure.
In the economies of operation a clear perspective of the varying conditions under which work is carried out is necessary, with accurate information of the arithmetical values of the various functions. While conditions on our railways may be somewhat different from those on systems in other parts of the world, the problems are much the same, such as:
Methods of calculating the cost of moving freight and passenger traffic.
Effects of speed on cost of operation.
Effects of penal rates on goods train operation.
Costs of terminal handling.
Fuel consumption measured in terms of work done.
Establishment of units of measure for work performed.
Establishment of a normal maintenance expenditure for varying classes of tracks.
Statistics as obtained are used largely qualitatively, that is, they indicate tendencies and enable comparisons to be made so that the administration may place the weaknesses. For special problems such as are quoted above, a quantitative analysis, taking into account the many variables affecting the question, is required.
A great expansion of the business of the New Zealand Railways may be looked for in the future. Since 1900 it has increased fivefold; young members of the service may therefore rest assured that there are opportunities ahead of them.
Everything is worth while when a breed is in the making.—R. Kipling.
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Things gained are gone, But great things done endure.—Swinburne.