The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 4 (August 1, 1927)
Paderewski Travels By Private Car On New Zealand Trains. — Pays High Tribute to Comforts, Convenience and Service on the N. Z. R
Paderewski Travels By Private Car On New Zealand Trains.
Pays High Tribute to Comforts, Convenience and Service on the N. Z. R.
Sir Ignace Paderewski's personal representative, Mr. Sharp, together with the great pianist's business agent, Mr. Gordon Joubert, took the opportunity at the conclusion of their South Island tour to call at Railway headquarters and convey the compliments of our distinguished visitors on the excellence of the arrangements made and the high quality of the service rendered by the Railways during the tour of the party.
Mr. Joubert said that in the course of their American tour of 40,000 miles he had travelled in most of their private cars, such as the “Pilgrim,” the “Los Angeles,” “Chicago,” “Ideal,” etc., but these could not beat the private car allotted to them in the South Island. “That car,” said Mr. Joubert, “just could not be any better. As a day car it is the limit of excellence.”
He went on to say that they missed the dining car, which was a regular feature of all long distance travelling in the other countries visited. “Taking your meals as you go helps to kill an hour or two of the journey,” he continued, and went on to describe the great commissariat furnished by some roads.
“Did you not find your way to our dining rooms?” he was asked. “Oh, yes!” was the reply, “and they couldn'st be beaten. There was always good quick service, and an excellent menu. And I suppose it is a good change to get out and have a walk about. But we always felt hurried-afraid of missing the train, I suppose.”
Didn'st you have enough time for your meals, then? was the next question.
“Well,” said Mr. Joubert, “I must confess the time always did turn out to be sufficient. In fact we usually had a few minutes to spare. But then the service was so prompt that the whole room was able to be quickly attended to.” “I suppose,” he added, as an afterthought, “when you get used to it, you would always feel you had plenty of time, as well as actually having it.”
The pianos taken about on the tour to be used by the Master are instruments that must be cherished; the party regard them as almost human. It was a further source of pleasure to find that our men handled them perfectly, and that their stowing and transport gave the utmost satisfaction.
Asked regarding the general service rendered by the Department and staff, Mr. Joubert's comment was, “remarkable! Your service here is equal to anything seen anywhere. Then the handling was perfect, no jolting anywhere, smooth starting and stopping, and easy motion on curves and grades.” He went on to say that in the United States, owing to the great weight of trains a terrible jerk was sometimes experienced in starting. This rough handling, he explained, was probably due to the equipment there having been allowed to run down during the war, and the leeway not yet having been fully made up.
What surprised the party more than anything was that such good service was rendered by the New Zealand Railways although there was no competition for the patronage of such parties as theirs. “Why,” he said, “In the States there would sometimes be as many as fifteen “street men” down to meet us on arrival at a terminus.” Asked what he meant by “street men” Mr. Joubert explained that these were agents of the different Railway Companies whose duty it was to be round about the streets visiting commercial houses, hotels, etc., looking for business. “A fine lot of men they are, too,” continued Mr. Joubert. “They will do anything for you to get your patronage. They just telephone the ‘passenger agent’ and he does all the arranging. The latter must have great power and be in touch with every department, for he arranges your page 8 freight, luggage, accommodation, and everything else in connection with your trip.”
Mr. Joubert thinks the “street men” the “solicitors,” the “passenger agents” and the “freight-men”-all types of business-getters employed on the United States railways-perform a great service. And they fight for business on “service” only, for the Interstate Commerce Commission keeps a watchful eye on things to prevent rate-cutting between one line and another.
Immediately a convention of any kind is mooted the agents of the railways are on the spot endeavouring to secure the business, and whenever a party travels, one of these men will “ride the train” all the way, keeping in touch with the requirements of the traveller.
Mr. Joubert appreciated the advantage of one management controlling all the railway lines in this country, and mentioned that when their car was in New York it had to be shunted to another part only about half a mile away “as the crow flies,” yet it had to be handled by the crews of four distinct companies, the “Pennsylvania,” the “Lehigh,” the “New York Central,” and the “Eric.” With waits at various points on the way for the engines of the different companies, it took four hours to get across that half mile.
Living on the train and travelling by express services, M. Paderewski was at times able to give four recitals per week.
The sundry cost for travel on the American Continent amounted to a considerable sum.
Mr. Joubert mentioned that on one occasion when owing to the cold weather, the car they were occupying had to be specially heated, a “Mogul” engine was attached, and the charge for the heating service amounted to £48. The bill showed charges for cost of coal, including its transit from the mine, cost of water, wages of crew, wear and tear, and then a percentage for “extra expense.” On another occasion £53 had to be paid for one switching movement from one company's line to another.
Our visitors are tremendously impressed with the magnificence of New Zealand scenery. Their word for it is “unsurpassed.” They feld sure that nowhere in the world was its like to be found. “You should make a living out of it, like San Francisco does,” was one expression. “The Southern Alps have all the grandeur of Switzerland,” said Mr. Joubert. “Sydney is no more beautiful in its seascapes than Wellington, whilst the view from the Cashmere Hills at Christchurch looking down towards Lyttelton is unique in its wonderful charms.”
“You have not a place that is not beautiful,” was the final pronouncement on the appearance of the Dominion.page break