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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/117

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The Line and the Staff.

partment under a secretary of foreign affairs, leaving the secretary of state as senior to be the able righthand man of the president. Here again the size of the proposition, the volume of business, is the proper determining factor.

On a small railway the chief engineer as a line officer may be able to do all the engineering himself. As the business grows he requires such special staff advisers as an office engineer, a locating engineer, a bridge engineer, a tunnel engineer, a signal engineer, etc. Some roads make such engineers line officers by giving them extensive authority over working forces. Usually I believe this is a mistake. It seems better for these engineers to be real staff officers, thinking, inspecting, warning, instructing (in the sense of lecturing), improving, designing and perhaps sometimes installing, but never directly operating or maintaining. The same general reasoning applies to the mechanical bureau when the business of the chief mechanical officer attains a volume necessitating the help of such valuable staff officers as a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a testing engineer, etc.

When the telegraph came to supplement the railway, men stood in awe of its invisible ef-