The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 6 (October 24, 1926)
A Successful Innovation — Schedule System in Workshops
Perhaps the greatest innovation introduced with the new system of Railway Workshops Production was the Schedule System which has been in operation in the New Zealand Railway workshops since 1925.
The magnitude of the undertaking may be better understood when it is explained that not one shop in the Dominion was, at the outset, or is, even yet, adequately equipped, or so arranged as to facilitate the progress of the work. Much headway is being made in this direction, and shortly these shops will be the cynosure of all eyes.
Some of the outstanding points which strike one regarding the actual working of the system are:—(1) The interest taken in the operations as planned, and the willing attempts made to accomplish the desired results. (2) The studying of the operations, so that preparations may be commenced in advance to avoid delays. (3) The attitude adopted when the work is coming in, and the determination displayed in order to recover lost time when a reverse is encountered. (4) The ready and willing service rendered by the men to their leading hand, indicating the spirit of co-operation and good feeling existing between the men and the officer in charge. (5) The appreciation shown by the men of the fact that their services, under the system, can be readily and fairly assessed through their detailed performances being shown on their daily time cards. This stimulates towards a higher state of efficiency, resulting in improved quality and quantity of output.
These facts must convince the greatest pessimist that, with the will and the determination manifest at this early stage, the results will be most satisfactory when the many handicaps, which still exist, have been removed and the system becomes finally established. The systematic moving of the various parts of the engine, to the departments concerned, and the prompt return of the completed work to the erecting gangs, has reduced the number of days that engines are in the shops by over 30 per cent.
The system has not reached perfection, but considering the out-of-date machinery and appliances and other disabilities, such as cramped accommodation, the progress already made is highly satisfactory. All concerned are doing well, working cheerfully, and anxious to see the scheme go ahead. They are the typ of men who believe that the principle of condemnation before trial is the attitude of the ignorant. Even after so short a space of time they realise that the introduction of the system was justified. Assiduity, and resolve to accomplish the work as arranged and to surmount all obstacles, are outstanding characteristics of each and every one of them. When this system is put into full working operation, or, in other words “When fast the waves of progress roll, free'd from error's long control,” the only wonder will be that something of the kind had not been adopted earlier.
Safe as a Bank
Though pilfering, damage to consignments and losses in transit are matters which fortunately give cur management less and less concern, they constitute very real and most difficult problems for the goods operating and commercial officers of the big railway systems of other countries. In the United States particularly, these problems are the subject of constant study, and much has been done in recent years to effect a diminution in claims due to these causes. Compared with 1920 for instance (we take the figures from “Railroad Data,” which is issued periodically on behalf of the United States railways), claims in 1925 had been reduced by 88 per cent., while theft losses show a reduction of 34.5 per cent., against 1924. After reference to the fact that in 1925 thirteen million less-than-car-load cars were handled, each containing an average of 180 packages of freights, “Railway Data” observes: “The question may well be asked whether goods are not safer from thieving while in the custody of the railroad than anywhere else in the world outside a bank vault.” This improved safety in the transport of goods is attributed to various causes among which are the activities of the Protection Section of the United States Railway Association; elimination of delays; increased police efficiency; better packing; flood lighting of yards; thorough analysis of reports of cases of pilfering; greater co-operation between the claim prevention and police departments; and propaganda to induce co-operation on the part of the railway staff and of firms consigning goods.
Business Agent Tells Rotary About Railways and Roads
At New Plymouth on 6th September the salient points of the working of the New Zealand Railways last year, popular fallacies regarding railway rates, the factors determining what the railway freight rates should be, and the nature and effect of road competition were subjects touched on by Mr. A. W. Wellsted, Commercial Agent for the Railway Department, in an address given at the weekly luncheon of the New Plymouth Rotary Club.
Mr. Wellsted emphasised to Rotarians the fact that the railways belong to the public of New Zealand, each member of the community being a shareholder in the huge co-operative concern. As such, the public should assist the railways to pay by giving their business to the railways. Instead of that, many people were at present mistakenly saving money in rail freights in order to pay out more in road rates and taxation.
Revenue and Upkeep.
In explaining the results of last year's working of the railways, Mr. Wellsted mentioned that the net earnings were equal to 4.35 per cent, of the capital invested in lines open for traffic. It was interesting to note that last year every first-class seat earned £45, and every second-class seat earned £33/6/-. He said this provided an answer to the argument sometimes heard that the difference in fares between the two classes should be abolished; if that were done the fare would have to be higher than the present second-class fare to bring the revenue up to the same level.
Apart from interest on the capital invested in providing and forming the railway line, it costs the Department an average of £369 a year to maintain each mile of line, as compared with the relatively small annual license fee paid by road vehicles. Interest charges represented a deduction of 4/6;.27d. from every 20 shillings earned.
“It is sometimes assumed that competition justifies reduced rates, but this assumption is frequently incorrect. Competition is often extremely extravagant in its operation and unjust in its effects. The time is fast approaching when competition between road and rail, where such is wasteful, must be eliminated. When it is remembered that wherever road transport is used where rail would do as well the total transport bill of the Dominion is being increased, it is evident that a combination and co-ordination of the two is in the interests of this country. In a young country such as this, still in its developmental stage, all thinking people must admit that the duplication of transport is a distinct loss to the community as a whole.”
The Traffic See-saw.
“Here in New Plymouth,” said Mr. Wellsted in conclusion, “in the seaport and principal town of Taranaki, the province that by the excellence of its roads tempts a man to put down a deposit and buy a motor lorry, and where road competition is rife, I put it to you that it is your duty, not only from a railway point of view but on broad economic grounds, to use your own national transport system for the carriage of your goods, and so enable us to keep our rates down. Decreased traffic means increased rates on what is left.”
Floods At Mercer.
Along the lower reaches of the Waikato River the immediate banks are too low to keep high flood waters within them, with the result that on occasions large areas of the surrounding country become inundated. Mercer often suffers in this respect and sometimes for considerable periods.
On the 6th August last the Waikato River began to swell and on that day at Mercer the water rose 8 inches, on the 7th another 11 inches, on the 8th a further 9 inches and the rising continued until the 13th, on which day the highest point of the flood was reached. At the height five sets of rails in the Mercer shunting yard were under water, and the Auckland-Hamilton road was submerged for three-quarters of a mile to the extent of 23 inches at the deepest part. The river then subsided gradually. It was not until the 20th August that the road and shunting yard became entirely free from the flood waters.
During the period of the submersion of the road, horses were used to assist motor traffic over the affected portions. Through traffic by rail was not interrupted.
The only slave left on earth is man minus his machine…… The function of the machine is to liberate man from brute burdens and release his energies to the building of his intellectual and spiritual powers for conquests in the fields of thought and higher action. The machine is the symbol of man's mastery of his environment.—Henry Ford.
* * *
Transportation is Civilisation.—Kipling.