Re: AUTOMOBILE SHIPMENTS IN BOX CARS IN THE 1950S


Tony Thompson
 

Richard Hendrickson wrote:

 
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.

     Though broadly correct, I think this summary gives somewhat the wrong impression. If you look at traffic statistics, shipping of completed autos by rail declined sharply after 1950, and by 1959 less than 10 percent of all new autos went to market by rail. That was entirely reversed in the 1960s with auto racks, as some other freight car list would cover. Auto parts are a different story, and Richard's summary is right on target.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
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