Графични страници
PDF файл

to give satisfactory service. The point of traffic saturation was reached.

This was the situation in 1915, when the flood of extra traffic incident to the great war broke upon the railroads. They were not prepared for the overload, but met the emergency with resourcefulness. The year 1916 brought a further in

. crease in traffic as the orders for war materials to be shipped abroad grew in volume. Then came our declaration of war against the Central Powers in April, 1917, and with it the mobilization of the army and navy, the construction of cantonments, the beginning of the ship building and aircraft programs, and the large scale production of ammunition and supplies of all kinds for our fighting forces.

Having in mind the fundamental fact that during the 10 years immediately preceding the date of our participation in the World War the railroads of the country had been unable to earn net income sufficient for them to maintain their credit and to attract new capital for needed enlargements and improvements in facilities, and that the abnormal traffic incident to war conditions was so great as to exceed the capacity of their lines and terminals, it was inevitable that congestions and delays should occur. Such a result, particularly on the lines serving the eastern seaboard, where most of the additional traffic centered, could not be avoided.




HE gravity of the situation was fully realized by the railroad executives, and when we

entered the war they acted quickly in an effort to meet the emergency. It will be recalled that in 1914, almost immediately after England declared war against Germany, the British Government took over the railroads and operated them through a board consisting of the general managers of the principal railroads. When the United States became associated with the Allies, a move similar to that taken by the British Government was anticipated by our railroad executives, but they decided to take the initiative themselves. Within five days after our declaration of war against Germany the Railroads' War Board was organized under a resolution signed by the chief executive of practically every railroad in the United States. The resolution bound the railroads individually to coordinate their operations during the war within a continental railroad system, “merging during such period all their merely individual and competitive activities in the effort to produce a maximum of transportation efficiency.” The complete text of the resolution follows.

Resolved, that the railroads of the United States, acting through their chief executive officers here and now assembled, and stirred by a high sense of their opportunity to be of the greatest service to their country in the present national crisis, do hereby pledge themselves, with the Government of the United States, with the Governments of the several States and one with another, that during the present war they will coordinate their operations in a continental railway system, merging during such period all their merely individual and competitive activities in the effort to produce a maximum of national transportation efficiency. To this end they hereby agree to create an organization which shall have general authority to formulate in detail and from time to time a policy of operation of all or any of the railways, which policy, when and as announced by such temporary organization, shall be accepted and earnestly made effective by the several managements of the individual railroad companies here represented.”

The personnel of the Executive Committee of the War Board was as follows:

Fairfax Harrison (Chairman), President, Southern

Railway. Howard Elliott, Chairman, Northern Pacific Rail

way. Hale Holden, President, Chicago, Burlington &

Quincy R. R.
Julius Kruttschnitt, Chairman, Southern Pacific

Samuel Rea, President, Pennsylvania R. R.

While the controlling motive was one of patriotic endeavor to make the railroads the greatest possible aid to the Government in prosecuting the war, there was undoubtedly a desire on the part of many railroad executives to demonstrate to the public that American railroad men under private ownership and control of railroads could do their part in the emergency without formal Government action like that taken in England. Such a demonstration, if successful, would curb the activities of the growing number of people who then looked with favor upon Government ownership as the ultimate solution of the railroad problem, and who advocated the immediate taking of the railroads as a war measure.

By the terms of the agreement, which was brought about by a special committee of the American Railway Association (the details of the plan had been worked out several weeks before we declared war), the operations of all railroads as a continental system were to be directed by the executive committee of the Railroads' War Board, to whom the chief executive of each railroad company had formally delegated authority to merge competitive activities and to make common use of facilities and equipment. The activities of the Railroads' War Board were tied into the activities of the Council of National Defense by Daniel Willard (President, Baltimore & Ohio R. R.), a member of the Council who became ex officio a member of the War Board, and were similarly coordinated with the work of the Interstate Commerce Commission through Commissioner Edgar E. Clark. The two ex officio members participated in the deliberations of the Railroads' War Board and in the shaping of its policies. There was also active and continuous cooperation between the Railroads' War Board and the army and navy, and the Food and Fuel Administrations, and points of contact were estab

lished with practically all other governmental agencies.

Each railroad individually was operated by its chief executive under instructions from the executive committee of the Board. Outside of freight car utilization and troop movements, an excess of centralized control of detail was avoided. The executive committee exercised its control through regional committees presided over by the following chairmen:

[blocks in formation]


WM. SPROULE, President,

Southern Pacific Lines. These chairmen, with the executive committee and the ex officio members, made up the complete Board. As regional executives they exercised jurisdiction in territories which corresponded with the five army departments, namely, the Northeastern, the Eastern, the Southeastern, the Central, and the Western districts with their respec

« ПредишнаНапред »