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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 7 (December 1, 1932)

Co-ordination of Road and Rail Transport — Extract from the N.Z. Government Railways Board's Statement, 1932

page 44

Co-ordination of Road and Rail Transport
Extract from the N.Z. Government Railways Board's Statement, 1932.

The Royal Commission on Railways (1930) recommended that consideration be given to the question of enacting the necessary legislation for the purpose of co-ordinating road and rail services. Subsequently the Transport Licensing Act, 1931, was passed, constituting machinery designed to enable this objective to be attained. The principal of the Act is the control of commercial road transport services by a system of licensing. The view of the Board is that some such machinery was absolutely essential to enable progress to be made towards the rationalisation of the transport industry. It felt strongly that the conflict of interests and the unnecessary duplication of transport services that were arising could be effectively dealt with only by a body of a judicial type functioning along judicial lines. To the extent that the Act constitutes machinery of this type, the Board believes that it is a step in the right direction.

The Licensing Authorities under the Act have commenced to function as regards the passenger services. The Act has not yet been brought into operation as regards the goods services. The Board desires to express the opinion that the bringing of the Act into full operation both as regards passenger and goods services has now become one of urgency. Until this is done the Board is not in a position to formulate a tariff policy for the purpose of its future working. The fact that the Transport Licensing Act, 1931, definitely adopts the principle of licensing of passenger services, and provides that it may be adopted for the purpose of goods services, seems necessarily to require the Board to assume that the adoption of that principle is the policy which has the approval of Parliament. This being the case, the Board in formulating its tariff policy requires to do so in a way that will take account of the principle laid down in the Transport Act. The difficulty, from a practical point of view, however, as matters now stand, is that, while this policy appears to have the imprimatur of Parliament, it is, as regards the very important portion of the transport industry that affects carriage of goods, inoperative, so that the Government Railways Board is left in an indefinite position in regard to the formulation of its tariff policy. What the Board urgently needs to know is the basis on which it is to formulate this policy, and inasmuch as it assumes from the Transport Act that that basis is to be, as regards the road traffic, a system of licensing, it desires to urge that that policy should be brought into active operation as regards the goods traffic—as has already been done as regards the passenger traffic—at the earliest possible moment.

Where appropriate, the Railway Department is being represented before the Licensing Authorities at their proceedings. It is the policy of the Board to adopt an attitude of helpfulness towards these authorities, and the Board will be desirous of affording all relevant information and suggestions that may assist the Licensing Authorities towards a proper decision in each case. The Board, while endeavouring to discharge its primary obligation to safeguard the interests of the railways, will continue to take a broad national view of the position, which fundamentally means the delimiting as far as possible of the operations of the various forms of transport so as to enable each to give to the Dominion service of a kind and quality and at a price for which it is best adapted, having regard to all the factors bearing on the best interests of the Dominion as a whole.

A particular phase of this delimiting process is involved in the consideration of the problem of the branch lines and isolated sections.