Freight Tariffs


Rob Kirkham <rdkirkham@...>
 

I would like to advocate that no matter what, the tariff materials not be sent to the local landfill. I am not sure freight car modellers will ever care about these documents, but they might.

While I have no strong desire to master the subject, I think tariff's are a potentially important source of info that could be used to analyse the transportation of goods throughout North American and even globally.

Its a vast subject, and to date my only reading on it has related to the tariff's controlling traffic moving on railways within Canada. Disputes over tariffs were taken first to the Board of Railway Commissioners of Canada (later, "Transport Commissioners") for determination. Some of their decisions were the subject of judicial review by the superior Courts. Others were appealed up through the appellate Courts. These Canadian tariff cases often made the news - either the daily press or in industrial publications. Some became the subject of Royal Commissions or inquiries. All of this means written descriptions of who wanted what; who said what; etc. In other words, these decisions provide lengthy descriptions of railway traffic and the business folks affected by it. In my experience these discussions are a useful (if hard to access) source of info about market conditions and places and industries served by rail. I am sure there were equivalent bodies in the United States during our era, and perhaps this is old news to many on this list.

What I've noted from reading these cases is that often quirky rates were set that made little sense apart from the broader economic and political context. So for anyone who wishes to expend the effort to learn about and understand tariffs, the quirks and the changes to the tariffs over time can provide helpful clues about broader issues. I expect this will include information about rail service to industry - information relevant to the movement of freight cars.

The study of such things probably belongs more to economic historians than modellers, but we modellers benefit from this type of research. Remember that historians tend to do research where there is date to be researched. So I suggest that preserving this sort of information is fairly important. Long term, I know.

Just my two cents.

Rob Kirkham
We have a ton of Freight Tariffs at the Colo RR Museum.

Aside from some lawyers who show up once in a while to use them there seems
tob e no obvious use for them or info contained in them.

Chuck Yungkurth
Boulder CO

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