Re: Uses for Reefers

Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>

Paul Koehler said:
The railroads did not want to haul empty reefers westbound. That's why they
offered them three for one or two for one to avoid the empty mileage
payments. Check item in the Westbound Transcontinental Tariff it was either
1 or 2, that offered the 3 for 1 or 2 for 1 reefers.
No argument. I merely stated PFE's objective, which was to serve their customers by providing cars for perishable loading. I would bet that in peak season, SP and UP swallowed their dislike of hauling empties, in order to make sure those high-revenue perishable loads were taken care of. Throughout the 1950s, perishables (via PFE payments) were the top freight revenue source for SP. You can find that in the annual reports. It may have been true for UP then as well, though I haven't researched that.
In the 1960s and later, as PFE lost traffic to trucks and had to lease its cars from the parents rather than buy them itself, I'm sure their position was less strong, and they became more cooperative with the parent roads; and the mechanical cars then becoming prevalent were much more suitable for westbound loading than the damp (if not wet) empty ice cars. So I'd say Paul's statement became more and more the rule as the sixties went on.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
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