John Stevenson Macintyre
Appointed Consultant Engineer 26th October 1886
Previously, he had worked upon the Eastern Counties Railway and had played a major role in the development of Harwich Harbour, part of the Great Eastern Railway empire.
He was highly regarded as being careful and methodical in his work.
He was engaged to provide a report and advise on economies on the line, along with a committee from the company Board (see AGM notes Aug 18th 1886).
This was completed and presented at the general meeting on 23rd February 1887.
The committee found that the company's reduced earnings arose from two causes: the (by now cyclic) depression in the slate trade and competition from other rail transport (the LNWR) for goods and mineral traffic. The depression was beyond the company's control and the effect could only be countered by increased economy of any sort; there appeared to be a slight improvement in the demand for slate. (possibly due to the reduction in the price of slate.)
In the competition area, the report went on ' ... received the careful attention of the board and they have endeavoured to meet it so far as practicable so as to retain the traffic ... '
It also considered ' ...it was inevitable that a considerable portion of the goods traffic should pass into the hands of the LNWR, but, in the mineral traffic which is the item of first importance, this company occupied a more advantageous position and by reducing rates, entering into through booking arrangements with the Cambrian Company and meeting as far as practicable the wishes of the quarry proprietors they have succeeded up to the present in retaining the great bulk of this traffic. '.
The passenger traffic had been only slightly affected, having benefited by increased through traffic almost to the extent of the loss sustained by reduced return traffic to Portmadoc.
On expenditure, Macintyre reported:
• Permanent way costs were comparable with those of other similar lines except that chairs and fish bolts could probably be obtained more cheaply by contract; recently they had been produced in Boston Lodge works.
- The cost of the new locomotive had inflated the cost of locomotive power; considering the costs of repairs and renewals, the costs of the carriage and wagon departments were slightly above those on other lines in the neighbourhood.
- Traffic expenses and general charges were moderate, being less than or equal to other rail companies.
- Operations at Boston Lodge should be restricted to ordinary repairs and renewals; savings might be made by obtaining locomotives and passenger carriages by contract.
It is apparent that work was being undertaken at Boston Lodge because it had the capability, rather than because it was the most efficient or cost-effective way. Whilst this was good for the local economy, it was costly for the Company.
The committee made the following recommendations to the board which agreed to put them to the general meeting:
- 1) That the operations at Boston Lodge should be confined in future to ordinary repairs and renewals so far as the engines and passenger carriages are concerned; that the building of new rolJing stock be limited to goods and mineral wagons, quarrymen's carriages and vehicles of this class and that the staff employed be proportionately reduced and the expenses kept as low as may be practicable, consistent with maintaining the rolling stock in good and sufficient working order and repair.
- 2) That the building of any more new engines should not be undertaken without consulting the shareholders.
- 3) That tenders should be obtained at least annually for the supply of the various stores for the permanent way and locomotive departments so as to ensure that the supply is obtained on the best terms possible.
The recommendations were accepted and the tendering procedure put into immediate effect