Re: Freight Tariffs

Tim O'Connor


I think tariffs were based on commodity and weight per carload,
and of course, source and destination. Changing the rules to be
more flexible as cars got larger, and railroads wanted to offer
multi-car discounts, was the subject of the huge "Big John"
hopper case in the 1960's. Tariffs were published and anyone
could offer them. For example, a railroad from A-B might have
the best route, but any other competitor serving A and B also
could offer the same rate, even if that meant going A-C-D-B.
So routings were often seemingly bizarre, involving hundreds
of extra miles (if not thousands). The SP brought Oregon lumber
down through Texas and up via the Cotton Belt to St Louis, rather
than short-haul itself via Ogden and the UP. The all-SP route
was hundreds of miles further, but UP could offer no advantage
on rates -- only service.


In general terms, how were shippers charged for the railroad's
services. In particular, a shipper has 3/4ths of a 1944 box car
volume worth of widgets, but the railroad supplies a 1923 built 8
1/2 foot tall car, which gets filled to the rim with the same number
of widgets. Do the shippers get charged for "a car and up to 50 tons
times X number of miles", for "volume times weight times miles", or
what? Same thing applies to grain shipments (actually, the photos in
the 1932 ARA box car book which show the different lines on the
inside lining, for different grain types, is what got me thinking
about this!)

A "high level" explanation of how this worked might help making more
realistic car assignments during an operating session.

Phil Buchwald

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