Re: AUTOMOBILE SHIPMENTS IN BOX CARS IN THE 1950S
On Oct 18, 2013, at 1:41 PM, William Keene <wakeene@...> wrote:
Yes, in large numbers.
All, or almost all, of them.
Both. As postwar autos grew in size, 50' cars with auto racks we're used in larger numbers, but there were many 40' rack-equipped auto cars in this service, including some that were built new for that purpose in the late 1940s and early '50s.
Owing partly to the development of the interstate highway system in the '50s, the shipment of new autos by truck rather than by rail made serious inroads into rail traffic of new autos, which is why the railroads began developing auto rack flat cars. However, at least from 1945 through the late '50s, rail shipments of new autos, as well as of auto parts, was a substantial source of revenue, and the railroads developed a system of assigned-service pools in which each RR on a certain route contributed a number of cars to the pool roughly proportional to their route mileage. Cars assigned to the pools had pool numbers and return routes stenciled on them so they would rapidly be returned empty to the point of origin.
After WW II the auto industry diversified geographically (often using war production plants that were purchased from the government for a small fraction of what they were worth), so new autos were being produced in large numbers at locations far from the former center of the industry in the Great Lakes states, e.g. Georgia, Texas, Southern California. Increasingly, some models were made in only one factory and thus had to be shipped long distances to markets in other parts of the country, and the greater the distance, the more likely they were to be shipped by rail.