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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/122

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Letters From A Railway Official.

rather than fancied importance of function. Signals are important, but so is the track. Each is an incidental component of railway operation, not the whole operation itself. On most railways the section foreman should be the responsible head of a complete sub-unit for everyday maintenance and inspection, including track, bridges, fences, poles, wires and signals. This may involve giving him more help or a shorter section.

One of the problems of line and staff is to determine what is intelligent rotation between the two. The line officer, dealing with men rather than ideas, may get into a rut of practice which prevents his seeing the beauty of the rainbow which the untrammeled staff officer may be tempted to chase too far. Some officers succeed brilliantly at originating or developing ideas in the staff and fail miserably at handling men in the line.

True individuality about which men prate the most is that which is understood the least. Our Army and Navy are insisting that before being staff officers, all officers, except surgeons and chaplains, must first learn to handle men by serving in the line; that crystallization in the staff must be prevented by periodic rota-