Re: Team tracks that look like private sidings?

Tom Campbell

Ok... trying again...

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Just to clear up a couple of things.

There were certainly industry sidings on 'R' Street that wandered off onto private property;
the two tracks in the CRC case were definitely on city streets. There are examples of
sidings that even though they are situated on R Street itself, were considered `private
industrial spurs' by virtue of business paying a lease for their use. A few sidings, as in the
two in this case, were considered team tracks and businesses that happened to lie
adjacent could take delivery from these tracks, but they could not demand preferential

The original franchise for SP's line down `R' Street traced its lineage to the Sacramento
Valley Railroad in the mid 19th century. From the ICC valuation reports of 'R' Street it
looks like individual sidings each had their own franchises- for many of the sidings the
`carrier' retained the franchise but with a lease agreement the spur could be considered

To help explain how a siding could be at one time considered `private' but later revert to
railroad control, I'll quote the testimony regarding that second siding from the case. This
is F. C. Nelson, assistant general freight agent for SP:

"The track adjacent to the J.L. Russill plant is a portion of a spur originally built for the
Capitol and Sacramento Van & Storage Company under the so-called old industrial basis,
whereunder the industry paid for the perishable material, such as ties and grading, and
the railroad paid the remainder. Eventually, the track having been abandoned by the
original owner, being maintained by the Southern Pacific, we came into complete
ownership of the track."

Neither land nor track ownership was ever a question in this case. It really turned on
whether the CRC would follow WP's suggestion (drawn from an earlier ICC ruling) that a
track's definition, such as the distinction between private and team tracks, should depend
on usage.

Looking at the decision for the umpteenth time it appears that the CRC was willing to
consider it. They decided that the WP was unable to prove `exclusive or preferential use'
for either siding. The commission noted that "Although the Grocery Company handles the
majority of the shipments from and to one of these tracks it should be observed that such
a condition may normally arise from the amount of business done by the Grocery
Company and the convenient location of its plant with respect to said track."

This is the spur that saw 166 of 170 carloads go to the Valley Wholesale Grocery over an
18 month period. I'd hazard a guess that the Western Pacific felt this qualified as
'preferential' usage. Many of those 166 carloads were shipments that Valley Wholesale
Grocery shared with other grocery businesses. They used the spur as their own team track
in that the other grocery businesses would often unload from the car directly to their
trucks without the goods going into the warehouse.

From everything I've seen, I agree with Dennis. Team tracks are only team tracks when the
railroad designates them as such- and there is always a list somewhere. One of the
exhibits in the case is a letter from a few years before the case from the SP to the WP
listing out which industries are adjacent to team tracks.

This was a depression era case. I wonder if the SP designated this track as a team track
partially to deny the business (by denying the cheap tariff in the reciprocal switching
agreement) of the Wholesale Grocery to the WP in an era when business was tight.

Tom Campbell
Elk Grove CA

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