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pect of a renewal of competition under the initiative of private operation was one of the most important reasons for the unanimity of the demand on the part of the public for a return to pre-war conditions of transportation service.
For a considerable period before the war, with uniformity of rates and charges, competition had been confined almost entirely to service. The soliciting
forces of competing lines emphasized the superiority of their terminals or the regularity and expedition of their train service. The road which had shown foresight in locating its terminals advantageously, or had foregone a part of its dividends over a series of years so as to improve its facilities and equipment, made the most of these favorable factors in its trafficsoliciting efforts. The road which had inadequate or less accessible terminals, or was otherwise meagerly equipped, was forced to excel in other features of service. In other words, the
, spur of competition was a helpful tonic which reacted to the benefit of public service.
During federal control, with virtual pooling of facilities wherever practicable, and with complete elimination of competition, the terminals and other facilities of the prudent road were used in common by other roads which had been unable or unwilling to improve their facilities and equipment. Naturally, with the return of competitive conditions of private management the well-managed roads were disinclined to share their advantages with competitors. The year 1920 consequently witnessed a general reversion to the pre-war status and the abandonment of most of the innovations of the Railroad Administration. A few instances of unification still remain, such as the joint use of the Pennsylvania passenger terminal in New York by the Pennsylvania and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroads.
The Transportation Act of 1920 empowers the Interstate Commerce Commission to require the joint or common use of terminals, including main tracks for a reasonable distance outside of the terminals, when such a requirement is believed by the Commission to be in the interest of public service. As yet the Commission has not formally exercised that power. Probably it will not be invoked until the Commission has worked out its recommendations for the voluntary consolidations provided for in the Act.
Joint use of locomotives has not been continued, although in some cases during the heavy traffic period of 1920 roads with surplus power rented locomotives to roads which were short. As to freight cars, the per diem rules agreement, the car service rules, and the interchange code of the Master Car Builders' Association have been readopted substantially as they were before federal control. The per diem rate for the use of freight cars has been increased from 60 cents to $1 and the car service rules have been amended in certain particulars, but these amendments do not affect the individuality of ownership and control under normal conditions. The Interstate Commerce Commission, however, has been given greater power (under the Transportation Act) to control the distribution of cars and locomotives when conditions justify the exercise of that power. A Commission on Car Service has been created as a branch of the American Railway Association and has been clothed with certain administrative powers of policing the railroads to see that the car service rules are properly observed.
There is little likelihood that the Railroad Administration standards for locomotives and freight cars will be continued as such, but probably there will hereafter be a closer approximation to uniformity in certain features of design and appurtenances. The individual roads are reverting to the former practise of designing locomotives and freight cars to suit their local needs. The ultimate result will probably be to reduce the number of types of peculiarly local design, and in freight cars particularly there will be further progress toward standardization.
All of the accounting short cuts used by the Railroad Administration in dividing joint revenues and expenses have been abandoned. The plan for standardizing operating statistics, however, has been perpetuated by the Interstate Commerce Commission. During the year 1920 this plan was continued by the Commission without change; but effective on January 1, 1921, certain modifications were made at the request of the railroad executives with a view to reducing the clerical work required by the original plan.
The right of the shipper under Section 15 of the Act to Regulate Commerce to specify the route over which his shipment should be carried has been restored, but the Interstate Commerce Commission is authorized by the Transportation Act of 1920 to order changes in the routing of traffic when in its opinion a road is unable so to transport the traffic offered to it as properly to serve the public.
Prior to the date of the termination of federal control the railroad companies took steps to reorganize the “off line” soliciting agencies which had been abolished by Director General McAdoo, and on March 1, 1920, or shortly thereafter, practically all of these agencies were again functioning. In discussing this subject in an earlier chapter attention was drawn to the fact that the public did not take kindly to this abridgment in service.
A few of the consolidated ticket offices have been continued. In some cities certain of the roads have withdrawn, but the joint offices are being used by the remaining roads. In Chicago, for example, three roads withdrew while nineteen remained. In most cases where the offices were broken up, or where some of the roads withdrew, the action was taken because certain of the roads believed that the joint offices worked against their individual interests under competitive conditions. Undoubtedly the consolidated ticket office tended to throw a greater number of passengers to the strong lines and correspondingly to reduce the passenger traffic of the weaker roads.
The policy of reducing or eliminating duplicate passenger train service, such as that between Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, and the Twin Cities was quickly abandoned. With the return to former conditions of competition it was but natural that the service should be restored substantially on a pre-war basis.*
The efforts of the Railroad Administration to centralize the purchasing of equipment, rails, ties and other materials and supplies never produced satisfactory results. The Administration itself abridged the scope of the plan in 1919, and it died at the end of federal control.
Advertising for traffic purposes was entirely discontinued during the first year of federal control, but was resumed to a limited extent in 1919 with a view of stimulating passenger travel. In 1920, under private operation, advertising was resumed on the former scale.
The permit system for controlling traffic at the source, a plan which had much to do with the prevention of congestion during federal control, has been continued in part, particularly in the field of export traffic. Shipments for export are not accepted unless the shipper can give assurance that ship space will be available at seaboard. The plan works well in preventing an accumulation of cars at water terminals.
On the whole it may be said that nearly all of the innovations of the Railroad Administration
* During the year 1919 the Railroad Administration restored a large part of the passenger train mileage taken off in 1918. Out of the 67,290,482 train-miles (per annum) discontinued in 1918, the Administration restored 11,461,758 (per annum) up to June 30, 1919. The reestablished service included some of the limited trains, such as the Broadway Limited of the Pennsylvania Rail. road between New York and Chicago.