AND GOODS the article entitled RAILWAY CLERKSHIPS particulars of the qualifications necessary to secure an appointment in the employ of a railway company were given, and it was there explained how such a position is to be obtained. It was briefly indicated there, too, what the tyro should do in order to secure promotion, and it now remains to be told what are the duties of the higher-grade men —the canvassers, townsmen, goods agents, and station-masters—and how such positions are to be obtained.
The Duty of a " first in the list, the " canvasser," is to the railway company what the commercial traveller is to the manu facturer, i.e. a getter of business. It is his duty to ferret out prospective customers and secure their traffic, if possible. Needless to say, he must be a thoroughly experienced man, for he has to quote rates, and get rates fixed when there is none in operation from the point from or to which the goods are travelling, and fixed low enough to secure the traffic; give advice as to the best methods of loading, routes, and so on ; explain the special Advantages accruing to the trader if the merchandise is conveyed by his company ; and take steps to see that it does actually travel that way when the order has been procured—not always an easy matter, as he has his competitor to reckon with. He is not stationed in one particular town, but is provided with an " all station " pass, and free to travel here and there in search of business. His duty, in brief, is to learn what there is on the move, and be equal to the occasion.
A " townsman's " duties consist chiefly of conducting those negotiations with the traders which, from their nature, cannot very well be conducted suc cessfully by correspondence ; inspecting goods alleged damaged in some way, or smashed in transit ; a satisfactory settlement of claims ; collecting accounts ; acting occasionally in the capacity of a canvasser ; arranging the transfer of goods wrongly delivered, or redelivery to the railway company of consignments delivered in error—in short, he has to act as on intermediary between the local depit of the company and the traders in the town.
The duty of a station-master and goods agent may be dealt with under one heading, as sometimes—at small country stations, for instance—one man has to act in the two capacities, and in the majority of cases, even when there are two distinct officers, the first-named, the station-master, is the responsible party. He is the supervisor, and he has to control all the affairs of the company at that station. It is he whom the company holds responsible not only for the punctual dispatch of the trains, and the propel: conduct of the affairs of the company in that town, but what is much more important, for the financial success of the station. Hence it will be seen that
his position is no sinecure.
The duty of a " goods agent "—or " local goods manager," as he sometimes called—is to control the traffic department and effect the safe and early dispatch and delivery of the merchandise handed to the company tom conveyances Every week he has to prepare an '' abstract " showing the exact amount of trade done at his branch during the preceding seven days, which, together with various other tell-tale documents, has to be forwarded regularly to headquarters. At the end of the month he has to draw up a similar statement, and a " comparative statement," and from these accotint the general manager can see at a glance just what is being done there, Should there be a decrease in the returns, the goods agent is called upon pretty smartly—often by wire—to " explain the decline in traffic instanter,' and if this explanation is not a thoroughly sound one, further " whys " and " wherefores " follow quickly by wire.
Such, passed in brief review, are the duties of the various officers. Now let us consider how the positions are to be attained.
It may be said in the very first sentence that success on the line, from the initial stage onwards, can only be achieved through the persistent study and perseverance of the individual. It is not for one moment suggested that there is no such thing as influence in this sphere—there is a good bit of it : and it would be idle to deny that the man who has a director at his bad; stands a better chancy: of quick promotion than the man without such aid, But we arc here talking of those who Ire too honourable to adopt subtle means for personal, material advancement, and who have only their nwn grit and energy to depend upon. Success conies to these by way of reward foi the due and proper exercise of the intellect The " canvasser " graduates for his position in the goods office, where he learns the general routine of railway work. If a man shows marked ability for " getting there" he is picked out for outside work, where, as has been shown, he has special opportunities for showing his ability. And the "townsman" follows the same procedure—i.e. he goes through the various dep(its of the goods office, so as to obtain that knowledge which will stand him in good stead later on, when dealing with the general body of traders. He must be up to all the moves on the board, and possess a keen power of observation and analysis, so that when, for example, he is examining a parcel of goods alleged to have been damaged during transit, he can tell whether the damage is of recent or ancient occurrence, and whether, therefore, the claim is legitimate and just or not.