Page images
PDF
EPUB

EXTRACTS FROM THE EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE INTER

STATE COMMERCE COMMISSION. Under this heading reference is again Carriers are entitled to ignore the made to the two principal objects of the order of the commission and await the act to regulate commerce, the publi- judgement of the circuit court upon a cation and observance of traiff rates, petition by the Commission and another and the correction on complaint, of trial of the issues in that court. The established tariff rates. The Com- more important the case may be, the mission says in substance that success- greater the benefit conferred upon ful regulation of rates depends upon shippers or communities, the less likely the effective operation of both branches is the order of the Commission to be of regulations. The act, as amended by obeyed. The Commission must not only the Elkins Law of February 19, 1903, render a just decision, but one that is and which deals with the publication convincing to the carrier, to afford and invariable application of tariffs, the relief from unlawful rates contemappear to be operating successfully plated in the statute. If the decision as applied to carriers subject to its of the Commission is right, the public provisions; but, as elsewhere explained, is entitled to have it go into effect. it is believed that these provisions If it is wrong, its operation could be might be made somewhat more definite enjoined upon showing to that effect and extended to apply to other agencies by the carrier in a suitable and summary connected with transportation which proceeding in the Federal court. The may now be used as a means of afford- amendments to the statute recommending concessions to shippers, which in ed by the Commission involved no fixing effect reduces the cost of moving their of whole tariffs of rates in the first inproducts.

stance or at any time, but simply the The Commission calls attention to redressing of transportation wrongs the fact that there has been no amen- shown to exist after full investigation, datory legislation conferring power over during which all affected interests have this rate and making the orders of the been heard; and when an order is issued Commission effective. In the present against a carrier under such procedure state of the law, after careful and often it should by operation of law become extended investigation, the Com- effective upon the date therein specimission

may
find a

rate complained fied. against to be unreasonable and order In the fixing of rates by carriers upon the carrier to desist from charging all commodities for transportation in that rate for the future; but it can not all directions and between all points though the evidence may and usually reached by railroads, it is inevitable does indicate it, find and order the that much injustice, unfairness, reasonable rate to be substituted for reasonableness preference, and disthat which has been found to be unlaw- crimination will be practiced, ful. Any reduction of the wrongful withstanding the greatest

and charge amounts to technical compliance ripest judgment may be exercised by and frees the carrier from any legal the railway officials. These errors of obligation under the order. The Com- judgment on the part of the railway mission can condemn the wrong, but officials constitute the reason ior Federal it can not prescribe the remedy. Two regulation and the basis of the present cases of unreasonable rates decided wide-spread demand for an amendment during the year are cited as showing of the existing statute which will enable some reductions from the rate found their speedy correction. unreasonable, but which were not so The Commission alludes to the persistgreat as those recommended by the ent misrepresentation by many who are Commission.

interested in opposing this legislation,

un

not

care

re

an

that the amendments desired would confer upon the Commission the power to arbitrarily initiate or make rates for the railways, and that it would be most dangerous to place this vast authority in the hands of five men, especially five men who have had no experience as railway traffic managers. No such power has been asked by or is seriously sought to be conferred upon the Commission. Though the popular demand may eventually take that form, under the stress of continued delay in remedying ascertained defects in the present plan of regulation, the amendment recommended by the Commission, as to authority to prescribe the reasonable rate upon complaint and after hearing, would confer in substance .the same power that was actually exercised by the commission from the date of its organization, in 1887, up to May, 1897, when the United States Supreme Court held that such power was not expressed in the statute.

The law provides for a complaint, full hearing, a report and opinion, and an order. This proceeding is essentially judicial in character and form, and bears no resemblance in any degree to the arbitary action which would result under authority to make tariffs of rates absolutely for the railways, either in the first instance or after some form of hearing or investigation. The situation is regarded as increasingly grave, in view of the rapid disappearance of railway competition and the maintenance of rates established by combination, attended as they are by substantial advances in the charges on many articles of household necessities. Though the law is extremely defective, aggrieved shippers have no other resource than to appeal to the Commission in the hope of some relief from conditions which they regard as intolerable.

All concede that rates should be reasonable and just. When they are not so, there is now no adequate means of making them reasonable and just unless the carrier can be convinced and persuaded to do so. The interests of one party can not be safely relied upon determine and protect the

rights of another. Authority to quire the establishment of joint through rates over connecting and continuous lines is also believed to be necessary, if authority to correct an unreasonable or unjust rate should be granted.

Much importance has been attached to this report, and much publicity and discussion is being given to it on account of the somewhat radical and very positive recommendations regarding the regulation of rates charged by the railways of the country for the transportations of interstate commodities. Also the President in his message to the present congress took emphatic stand upholding the recommendations of the Commission in part as follows:

“The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce; and such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy

the other.” “The most important legislative act now needed as regards the regulation of corporations is this act to confer on the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to revise rates and regulations, the revised rate to go at once into effect and stay in effect unless and until the court of review reverses it.”

on

[blocks in formation]

(3) When the owner of the car becomes a dealer in the commodity transported, the fact of ownership gives him an important advantage over his competitor.

(4) When the owner of the car is also the

owner of the commodity trans

to

to

an

ported,

freight rate,

TERMINAL RAILROADS.

excessive rental for the for such contentions, and provide more car may amount to a preference in the adequate and certain remedies for the

as against the shipper suppression of these abuses. The only who does not own his car.

way in which complete remedy can be Instances of rebates granted by car afforded is by investing this Commission, companies from the icing or refrigeration or some other tribunal, with power to charges on fruits are mentioned. It is inquire whether these charges are reasclaimed that these icing charges, whether onable, and to make them reasonable made by the carrier or by the private found unreasonable.

This can be car company, are compensation for accomplished in two ways: private service not part of the transporta (1) By making the common carrier tion service performed by the common responsible in the matter of this special carrier, that they are therefore not re equipment and refrigeration service, if quired to be published, and are not they are not now responsible. subject to regulation under the statute. (2) By bringing the car line companies Practically the icing charge is part of which provide this refrigeration for the shipper's cost of transportation. interstate shipments under the jurisThe fruit shipper must use the railroad, diction of the act to regulate commerce, he must use the refrigerator car, and and making their charges subject to the the car must be iced.

The effect upon

determination of this Commission the shipper of fruit is exactly the same if his competitor receives a concession The terminal railroad owned and conin the icing charge as it is if he receives trolled by shippers is believed by the a corresponding preference in the freight commission to be a most dangerous rate.

means of giving preference to favored When the owner of private cars is also persons. A few instances of large excess a shipper, to whatever extent the amount over fair compensation for services perpaid by the railroad for the use of the formed are given by the Commission, car exceeds a reasonable compensation which seem to entirely justify their callthe owner of the car is preferred in the ing attention to the growth of these matter of the freight rate

the practices. From every point of view shipper of the same commodity who they commend this matter to the serowns no cars, and this point is discussed ious attention of the Congress. at some length in the report.

In speaking of voluntary submission The Commission has held that these of controversies to it, the Commission exclusive contracts, when they result calls the attention of Congress to the in unreasonable icing charges, are un point that some, at least, of the most lawful, and that the failure of the carrier important controversies involving the to publish such charges is also a violation rates and methods of railway carriers of the statute. We feel reasonably certain are rather between competing communthat these holdings are correct, and ities, or producing regions, than bewill be finally sustained. The private tween rival lines of railway. It will be car lines and the railroad companies seen at once what a tremendous and farearnestly insist, however, that the icing reaching condition is involved in this is a private service 'over which this statement-a condition which predicates Commission has no jurisdiction under that the vast railway development has the present law; and if it should turn extended far beyond the point at which out after three or four years of litigation any of the great systems finds its interthat our opinion is wrong, the shipper ests so identified with a single community will be entirely without remedy.

to feel indifferent to the demands Without conceding the correctness and needs of competing communities; of the claims stated by the carriers and and the commission frankly confesses car lines, there can be no doubt that that there may be entire sincerity in great good would be accomplished by the contention on part of officers of such legislation as would leave no room a great railway system that any adjust

over

as

were

sanc

more

ment which satisfies the rival communities to be served can not be seriously objectionable from its point of view. The Commission thinks its usefulness would be very much increased if its determinations, in cases of voluntary submission of controversies, tioned by authority not now possessed, and urges Congress to make amendments recommended for that purpose.

In speaking of the character of cases now pending before it, the Commission thinks it probable that, directly or indirectly, almost every locality and nearly all the people of the United States are affected. This shows the people the increasing necessity, and the expanding functions, of the Commission, or that the continual push of industrial activity is developing new and hitherto unknown conditions and opportunities.

The Commission comments upon the use of safety appliances as follows:

"The good effect of the amending act, especially in securing

effective control of trains through the increased use of air brakes, is marked. Since the law become fully operative the number of brakemen employed on trains has been reduced on

eastern roads upon the stated ground that the control of trains by air brakes renders the employment of the former number unnecessary. The number of cars inspected during the year was 208,177, of which 65,183, or 31.31 per cent of th whole number

found defective. А smaller number were inspected this year than last, because the provision in the new law relating to air brakes has entailed much additional work in inspection and securing evidence in airbrake violations. The inspection is made, as far as possible, according to the standards of the Master Car Builders' Association. These include all matters relating to the safety of employés, and the inspection is therefore not confined strictly to appliances required by law. Such action tends to promote uniformity in equipment and practice.

The law is generally well observed, so far as the proportion of air-brake cars in service is concerned, but

many of these cars are run in such defective con

dition as to be really inoperative in respect to use of the air brake. Instances of defects are given, and the failure of carriers to properly educate employés in the use of air brakes is noted.

On account of the greatly increased size of trains, the opinion has been expressed that locomotives should be equipped with two air pumps, to work singly or in combination. In any event, the small pumps now used should be replaced with pumps of the largest capacity.

Air-brake cars are frequently found cut out without anything to indicate the reason for such action. This is generally due to the negligence of trainmen, who fail to apply defect cards. Trainmen are often careless in the observance of those conditions which lead to proper compliance with the law.

Many of the defects in cars found not in compliance with the statute were of such a nature as to require men to go between the cars to couple and uncouple them, thus placing their lives in danger and violating the spirit and letter of the safety-appliance statute.

While 31 per cent of the freight cars inspected were found defective, only 42 out of 2,319 inspected passenger cars were found improperly equipped. The number of defective passengers cars was less than 2 per cent of the whole, and these defects were generally of a minor character and were immediately repaired

The number of trainmen killed in coupling accidents during the year was 278, and the number injured was 3,441. A large proportion of these deaths and injuries were due to defective equipment, compelling the men to go between the cars to couple and uncouple, and might have been avoided had proper attention been given to the maintenance of safety appliances. When the same attention that is now devoted to passenger equipment is given to freight equipment, the number of deaths and injuries will largely decrease.

Two prominent roads entering St. Louis have issued notice that they will refuse to receive cars from other roads unless the coupling appliances are in good condition.

This action has pro

some

were

duced most excellent results and should train accidents in 1904 compared with be extended to other parts of the coun- 1903 is 641 per cent. The fact that try.

there were ten unusually disastrous acThe number of prosecutions for vio- cidents during the year is mentioned. lation of various provisions of the safety- The number of deaths resulting from appliance law is noted. None of the these ten accidents, eight of which were suits have come to trial, and in most collisions, is about 23 per cent of the cases they have been settled without total number killed in all the train actrial by the roads confessing judgment cidents of the year, which comprise over and compromising the amount of the 6,000 collisions and 4,800 derailments. penalties to a greater or less extent. Although there has been earnest disThese prosecutions spur the roads to cussion of the subject in the public press, activity in maintaining their safety ap

it is noticeable that the very magnitude pliances in better condition.

of the questions involved appears to have The extension of time granted to the produced some confusion, and in the Colorado and Southern and Denver and multitude of causes assigned the real Rio Grande, to enable them to apply to question in many cases has been lost Congress for a change in the amended sight of. The paramount requirement, law permitting them to dispense with as pointed out in the last annual report, the driving-wheel brake on their narrow- is an effective measure for the prevengauge locomotives engaged in road ser- tion of collisions, vice and substitute the water brake The Commission 'urges with added therefor, was further extended by the emphasis, if possible, the same means Commission upon application of the recommended in its last annual report roads. These carriers presented a bill -the adoption of the block system. As for this purpose, and it was favorably to whether the cost of introducing the reported by the committees of both block system would be a burden on the Houses at the last session, but did not railroads, no definite claim upon their come to a vote. In view of such action point has been presented, and it has in Congress, the further extension until been mentioned only in a vague way. March 1, 1905, was granted.

The cost of introducing the manual Through concurrent action with the block system can scarcely be called a Civil Service Commission, improved burden when we see it introduced on rules have been adopted for the appoint- single-track lines of not very heavy ment of safety-appliance inspectors. traffic and find no prominent mention The greatest care is taken to ascertain of expense in the annual reports of the the technical knowledge of applicants companies. The same reasons that exfor these positions and to enable the isted for the introduction of the autoCommission to secure the services of the matic coupler and air brake by the provery best men.

visions of the safety appliance act of

1893 apply to the prevention of colliThe article in the report on railroad sions by compulsory use of the block accidents opens with a table giving the system. The report discusses the use of principal totals for the years ending automatic versus nonautomatic signalJune 30, 1902, 1903, 1904. There were ing, and says that the question is one 43,266 employés injured and 3,367 killed of immediate capital expenditure. Conin 1904, as compared with 33,711 in- sidered strictly on its technical merits, jured and 2,516 killed in 1902. The the block system is the acme of simplicfigures for 1903 are intermediate be- ity. It is the simple embodiment of the tween those for 1902 and 1904. In 1904 theory that train shall

be there were 8,077 passengers injured and started from a point on any main-line 321 killed; in 1902, 6,089 injured and track until it is known that such track 303 killed; in 1903 there were 6,973 in- is clear of all other trains up to a cerjured and 321 killed. The increase in tain point beyond. In other words, a the number of deaths of passengers in space interval must always be main

RAILROAD ACCIDENTS.

no

ever

« PreviousContinue »