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RAILWAYS ADMINISTRATION.

REMODELLING AT NEWPORT.

NEW TYPE OF GOODS ENGINE.

Interesting particulars of a new type of goods locomotive and plans for remodel-   ling the Newport workshops were dis- cussed by Mr. N. C. Harris, acting chief mechanical engineer of the Railways de- partment. in evidence yesterday before the Royal commission which is inquiring into railways affairs. Mr. Harris mentioned that the "life" of a locomotive was about. 30 years, and that during the last finan- cial year 20 old enginess of a book value of £50,000 had gone to the "cemetery."

Mr. Harris described at length the organi- sation of the rolling-stock branch of the department.          

The Chairman (Mr. G. W. Stead).-In dealing with repairs at Newport, have you sufficient accommodation at present?

Mr. Harris.-No; we do far too large a proportion of our repair work in the yards, partly "through lack of floor space, and partly owing to insufficient covered accom-   modation. We have plans for providing a definite line of development at the work shops by utilising the angle space between the Newport-Williamstown and Newport Geelong lines It is possible by loop-lines   off these two lines to obtain a satisfactory "lay out'' for the locomotive and car and wagon divisions of the workshops. We have during the last, eight years been suc- cessful in obtaining authority to construct three of the buildings that are provided for in that project. We have now bofore the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways a proposal for the new locomotive erecting shop at Newport, which, with portion of the machine shop, will be able to deal with the heaviest parts, such as wheels and axle-boxes.

Do you find, with the accommodation     you have, that- expenditure is increased owing lo insufficient floor and covered Space?- Yes; our expenditure is a great deal higher than it should be.

Mr. H.W. Buckley - Does your ulti-   mate project involve the pulling down of the workshops?

Mt. Harris.-- Not neccessarily: it may be possible to use existing buildings for handling light materials. As a rolling-stock repair shop on an entirely satisfactory lay- out, the original buildings did not fit in with the project. As far as locomotives are concerned, we will not alter the alloca- tion of repair work which now exists as be- tween North Melbourne and Newport. We   have 200 engines, out of a total number of 662 now in commission, at North Melbourne with covered accommodation for 70. A certain proportion of repairs at North Mel-   bourne is done on the open road, which is inefficient. But as a rule the standard of work at Nortth Melbourne is good. We have a project for a new locomotive depot at South Kensington, and are now prepar- ing an alternative project to fit in with the mechanical handling of coal at South Kensington. Both projects provide for a   much greater area of covered accommoda- tion for engines.

Plans for New Locomotives,

"Our construction plan-) provide for two Pacific and 11 X class goods locomotives," said Mr. Harris. "The. X is a" modified C class engine," which will have a trailing truck. It will be of the Mikado instead of the Consolidation, type. ' It will have the characteristics of the C, but it will   haver a tender similar to the Pacific, and much greater fuel and water rapacity. It will also have a 'booster.' The new loco-   motive will do its work in less time than the C engine, and will run through from Melbourne to Bendigo; or from Melbourne to Seymour, without-losing time in refuel- ing at the roadside. Its tractlve power will he approximately 37,000lb).. without a 'booster.' or 42,000 with a'booster.-'

Unavoidable Mistake.

In reply to Mr. Chapple, Mr. Harris     said:-We have had 11 "boosters" for the new X engine in stock since the beginning of the year. In stocking them so early an unavoidable mistake was made. When the X class engine was authorised our officers had to make provision for various engine parts, and they had less to do than those who were designing the new engine. Orders were, therefore, by mistake, placed   too early.

In further reply to Mr. Chapple, Mr. Harris said:-"During the last financial year we broke up 20 old locomotives as follows:-One D. 1 DD, 14 OR,, 2 RY. and 2 T engines. Their book value wns about £50,000 but that was not "their replace- ment value. The writing-off would be against maintenance expenses.

Mr. A, H. Leeson. - What proportion of Wonthaggi coal do you use in your

locomotivos ?

Mr. Harris. - About 60 per cent. Vic- torian and about 40 per cent. Maitland (N.S.W.) coal. But the proportion of Vic- torian coal used last year was hilgher than usual, as conditions were extraordinary. There were no disturbances at the State coalmine last year.

In reply to Mr. Leeson Mr. Harris said: -Facilities at Newport for truck repairs are simply disgraceful. Unless we charged the Ballarat mid Bendigo workshops with freight on material (which wo do not), I should except heavy truck repairs to be undertaken at Ballarat and Bendigo more cheaply than at Newport or Jolimont, or North Melbourne, though for light truck   repairs North Melbourne is definitely the most economical of repair-shops.

Advantages of Butty gang System.

Mr. Chapple.. -- Do you know anything about a wheel-turning machine at New- port operated hy men under the bonus system, and of complaints that the machine was destroyed by over-speediing, which in- volved repairs costing .-800?  

Mr. Harris. - Such complaints are too trivial for words. That sort of rubbish was talked about a great many jobs when we changed over from day labour to the "butty gang system. There are no solid facts to substantiate them. Undoubtedly it would be advantageous to all concerned if the "butty-gang" system were increased. It raises not only the capacity of the work- shops but the earnings" of the men and the standard of living."

Cost of Shorter Working Week,

Mr. L. S. Benjamin. - You have men at Newport, some, working 48 hours a week and some 44 hours a week. Do you notice any difference in efficiency? . '

Mr. Harris. - The cost of work in- creased when the change was made from l8 to 44 hours a week, but efficiency is an- other matter. The majority of men made a faithful effort to give tho same output working 44 hours as they had given in 48 hours, but they were not uniformly suc- cessful.      

Mr. Chapple. - What is your opinion of the automatic couplers?

Mr. Harris. - That is one of the jobs that has got to bo done to make ours a real railways system. It is a tragedy to see the conversion period threatening to spread over so long a time. It will take about eight years to convert the whole of the rolling stock. In the next year we propose to equip 16-ton trucks with automatic couplers, and to use such trucks in one       block. In that case we will leave off the intermediate buffers. We propose to charge to working expenses the cost of stripping vehicles.and the original cost of buffers, couplings, and draw-gear.

Mr. Harris said that the commissioners   had twice recommended to the Cabinet in July, 1027, that Mr. H. N. May, workshops manager at Jolimont, be appointed superin- tending engineer of railway Workshops, but the recommendations were rejected. Mr.   May's achievements in economy and effi- ciency had resulted in savings of many thou- sands a year, but he was still a technical officer of the branch without proper recog- nition of his value to the department.

In the remainder of his evidence Mr. Harris dealt with the efficiency of hopper wagons,, timekeeping, at Newport, the system of boiler inspection, cost of truck   construction, and other matters affecting the branch. ,  

The commission adjourned until half-past 10 o'clock this morning, when Mr. A. O Whittaker will continue his evidence.  

MINISTER HEARS COMPLAINTS

"BONUS UNDER NEW NAME."

Reinstatement of Dismissed Men.

A deputation consisting of members of the Iron Trades Council waited on the Minister for Railways (Mr. Tunnecliffe)       yesterday and complained that the bonus   system was being "surreptitiously intro duccd" into railways workshops in defiance of an introductlon by the Ministry that all payment by results should be discontinued. Mr. R. O'lahallornn quoted the case of a man at the North Melbourne shops who, he said, was being employed on what the commissioners termed "price work," but which was actually the old bonus system under another name.

Mr. Tunnecliffe. - If that is so it is a direct contravention of an agreement which the Railways Commissioners made. I will certainly look into it. '

Mr. O'Halloran complained also that men had becn dismlssed from the Newport shops on the ground that no woik was

available.-when work similar to that which they had been doing was offering at the Bendlgo. shops. Instead of giving the dis-   missed men the opportunity of going to Bendigo the commissioners had filled the vacancies there with men from outside the service. He had been told definitely by the Premier (Mr. Hogan) that dismissed men would be reinstated directly suitable

vacancies occurred.'

Mr. Tunneccliffe. - I do not know any- thing about dismissals, but there is an understanding with the commissioners that men who have been dismissed through lack of work should be given the first oppor- tunity of reinstatement. If what you say is correct the commissioners have directly violated the agreement. I will go into the

matter with them,

The deputation asked that when the opinion of the railways medical officer concerning a man's fitness for employment,   differed from that of the man's own doc- tor the matter should be referred to an in-- dependent medical practitioner. Such a   right of appeal, is was considered, should apply not only to applicants for employ- ment, bul also to employees injured in the

course of their work.

Mr. Tunnecliffe - It seems' to be rea- sonable. I will discuss the matter with the commissioners and ascertain their views. I   know that their aim is to have every man in the service as physically fit as possible,   but, personally, I think that a great under, taking such an the railways should be pre- pared to carry a fair proportion of physi- cal defectives, just as outside organisations do. Public opinion seems to be crystallising,

in that direction.

Objection was taken by the deputation to the importation of picks by the Railways department. It was contended, that picks

could be made in Victoria.

Mr. TuuneclifTe. - That is a matter which     I intend to discuss with the commissioners. I was at Wonthaggi recently and saw picks turned out like hot-cross buns for use at the State Coalmine, which is a branch of the Railways Department  

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