Re: Freight car distribution

Tim O'Connor

In theory... perhaps... The only way to settle these arguments
would be to be able to analyze per diem records. Let's say that
railroad X owned 10% of US box cars, and also usually had 10% of
US box cars on its own lines. Then if X received a steady amount
of per diem rent for 90% of its own box cars, we could conclude
that its own box cars were offline 90% of the time and therefore
that 90% of X's online box cars were from other railroads.

Unfortunately, like wheel reports, enough data may not exist. In
the 1950's some railroads published reams of data in the annual
reports to stockholders -- I have GN and IC examples. GN wrote
at some length about how its own cars were disproportionately
found OFFLINE -- in effect, making GN a supplier of rental box
cars to the rest of the industry. And per diem didn't cover the
cost of new cars in the 1950's!

To me, this example of GN at least shows that if GN owned 3% of
the box cars in the country (just for argument sake) then on the
AVERAGE, the number of GN box cars on other railroads should be
more than 3%. I think NP was in the same boat, perhaps even more
so... This does not say which railroads had how many GN box cars
and I would expect to find a lot of variation consistent with a
more or less random distribution.

Tim O'Connor

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