Page images

This Commission and the courts have recognized the right of the carriers to establish reasonable rules and regulations; but when so made they are to be enforced in such manner as to do no injustice with such impartiality as to carry no unjust discriminations against individuals, localities or traffic.

One important element, which entirely revolutionized the normal circumstances and conditions of the local coal traffic, enters into this case. The great anthracite coal strike, with its resulting extraordinary demand for bituminous coal, brought about the almost unprecedented prices for this other fuel, that made profits possible on the working of mines far removed from the railway line, and it was this temporary condition which tempted the complainant and others to embark in the enterprise of exploiting these mines, handicapped as they are under normal trade conditions by the superior and more economical methods of loading with tipples on sidings along the roadway.

But the demand for coal, which raised its price, at the same time created such a demand for cars as to cripple the railroad lines in the East, and brought about such a congestion of freight as almost to paralyze transportation. Everywhere coal lines and yards were crowded with cars; motive power was inadequate, and car shortage increased. Under these conditions the great railway systems penetrating the Eastern bituminous coal fields found it necessary to publish notices laying an embargo on the receiving and transporting of many kinds of freight to many points, which resulted in embarrassment and expense to shippers and receivers of the forbidden traffic, but which action was approved by the public and the authorities as warranted by extraordinary conditions, that demanded heroic measures to avoid congestion of freight, hasten the handling of the coal, and relieve the great distress of the public that grew out of the lack of domestic and manufacturing fuel.

The extraordinary high price of coal was brought about in part by the inability of the bituminous carrying lines to furnish and haul cars for its transportation. One of the reasons inducing complainant to undertake the handling of coal from country mines not otherwise profitable, was the very fact that the railroad was unable to furnish any of its patrons with the number of cars demanded. It does not appear that the operated mines along its line were given much above one-third of the cars ordered, nor within from 25 to 50 per cent of their capacity of production. The road was threatened with litigation by the operators already suffering from shortage, if the demands of individual shippers were supplied, which it was said “would have crowded out all other freight.”

Some rule controlling the distribution of cars available was a necessity. The tipples could load a car in from 2 to 15 minutes on their own sidings, sometimes in train loads, dropped by gravity into position and by gravity out on the line, under such favorable conditions by reason of the expensive facilities, as to lead one of the officials to declare that it favored the movement of coal by 50 per cent over wagon loading cars, which required to be placed on sidings and drilled into trains.

We are not called upon to decide whether railroads may, in the ordinary course of their dealings with shippers, discriminate between tipple and wagon loading cars, as in the Harp Case (118 Fed. 169); or whether, without a rule, they may in an emergency like that of the great coal strike and subsequent car famine discriminate between competing individuals under like conditions by furnishing some and denying others, as in the Glade Coal Company Case recently decided by the Commission (10 I. C. C. Rep. 226). But this point is clear, that under such conditions as prevailed during the period under consideration, with the public clamoring for fuel, with a supply of cars far below the demands from constant patrons, with a freight congestion that taxed the motive power to its limit, the defendant was justified in establishing a rule for that emergency which, justly enforced, was calculated to hasten the movement of this great staple and relieve the distress of a burdened public.

Under these conditions we do not feel justified in condemning a rule to continue to supply the mines in operation with such cars—all too few—as were available for distribution, moved thereto, not by the embarrassment of furnishing a car to the complainant whose facilities seem to have been better than the average, but by the threatened flood of demands from individuals along the line less favorably equipped that would take up its whole supply of cars, fill the sidings, and reduce the amount of coal handled.

The evidence showed that cars to the extent of 50 or 80 per cent of the capacity of the mines were distributed in the period under consideration, and this included individual or company owned cars, foreign cars and cars belonging to the railroad company. No record was kept of individual demands for cars, though the trainmaster testified that if all wagon shippers had been given all demanded it would have crowded out all other freight—even warehouse sidings—and would have diminished shipments east.

Some regulations regarding the distribution of cars were imperative. The mines in operation along the line of the road were embarrassed by the unavoidable shortage and were loud in their protests and threats of suits against an aggravation of that shortage by the transfer of their agreed percentage for the wagon loading of coal to be hauled from a mile and a half to three miles, with a possible result of closing their own mines. The defendant was harassed by its inability to furnish cars or relieve the congestion, and in desperation had even declared embargoes against certain localities and traffic.

The complainant introduced testimony to show that his handling of cars would not delay shipments, but this emergency period the defendant company had to take into consideration the delays and dangers and expense of complying not only with complainant's demands but what would be the result of complying with all individual demands. One witness declared his opinion that tipple loading in train loads facilitated the movement of coal 50 per cent and defendant's superintendent said the movement from the tipple mines was “very much quicker.”

As to the alleged discriminations in favor of competitive wagon shippers, the evidence does not establish any intentional wrong to complainant by any undue preference for any other individual country mine consignor. Some cars were secured by other wagon shippers as well as complainant, but none seem to have been regularly supplied and the freight trainmaster testified: “We did our best to comply with the orders.” At least some of the cars so used for shipping wagon loaded coal were secured by individuals unloading cars in use, without authority and in some instances shipping them in with small quantities of freight for that purpose.

Under all the circumstances, such a rule as the one under consideration does not seem unreasonable. An emergency had arisen under which the shortage of cars already pressed hard upon established industries. The regulation temporarily adopted seemed best calculated to relieve the situation, to hasten the delivery of coal, and give the best service to the public and the operating mines, both already suffering from the inability of defendant to provide the extraordinary facilities demanded by the abnormal conditions. The complaint must be dismissed. 10 I. C. C. REP.

No. 702.






Decided March 25, 1905.

1. A ruling that an antecedent haul to one locality and no previous trans

portation to a competing locality constitute justification for a lower charge from the former to a common market, would be in effect to approve the equalization of natural advantages and disadvantages as between localities, and such equalization is not sanctioned by the Act to

regulate commerce. 2. With competition for the carriage of grain to and via Duluth and

other northern lake ports, rates of 10 cents on wheat and 742 cents on other grain from Minneapolis to Chicago are as high as can be obtained by the all-rail lines between those points, and competition by lines other than the defendants from Minneapolis to East St. Louis has fixed the rate by all lines at 10 cents per 100 pounds, and this also controls the rate to Louisville. The rates from Cannon Falls, a point in Minnesota 48 miles from Minneapolis, to Chicago, East St. Louis and Louisville, are also competitive rates, and in its competition with Minneapolis Cannon Falls is entitled to as low rates to common points as the difference in conditions will permit. In view, however, of the desirability of keeping open the Minneapolis market to Cannon Falls grain, the short distance between those points, and the low rate from Minneapolis forced by competition, it is apparently not unjust that the grain rate from Cannon Falls should be as high as the local rate to Minneapolis plus a 742 cent rate therefrom to Chicago, provided the Cannon Falls dealer is not thereby subjected to

disadvantage as compared with the Minneapolis grain dealer. 3. Under present rate conditions the Cannon Falls shipper is subjected

to disadvantage as follows:

First: The combination of rates on rye and other coarse grain from Cannon Falls to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Chicago is 12

« PreviousContinue »