Frt Car Distribution, diversions, routing et al


After 35 years of railroading and sitting in clerks, yardmasters, car
distributors, trainmasters chairs I'll throw in my two cents.

Yardmasters did not supply cars to industries. Unless it was a large
industry with specific switching requirements most yardmasters did
not have time nor want to deal with the industry/customer. Empties
on hand at a given terminal were assigned to car orders placed by
customers within the terminal complex. Keep in mind that this might
also entail supplying cars to locals operating out of the terminal
over 100 to 150 miles of a division. Normally this activity was done
by industry service clerks or local car distribution folks. Yes we
did deviate from planning but attempted based on the destination
specified by the industry, to find an appropriate Rule 1 or Rule 2
empty. Lacking this we found, or looked for, an appropriate home
road car. Also local conductors had a habit of providing empties to
shippers at their disgression and not via the direction of the local
orders provided by the clerks. Yardmasters did appreciate the clerks
that went out of there way to make their switching easier by finding
cars in appropriate blocks to supply customers on car orders. Most
clerks new the short home routes for empties without looking at an
ORER. Usually this was specified in "tide" or "flow" instructions to
specific terminals to eliminate any confusion over "where" to send a
foreign empty. My early experience with the ORER was looking for
load limits and capacity on specific cars to fill car orders.

Shippers did specify routings but were not required to do so.
Shipper specified routings were more commonplace during the 40's and
50's and fell off during the 60's and 70's and shippers began to let
the railroads determine the best routing. In most cases the carrier
that originated the load tried to get the longest possible
routing "on-line" to get the largest division of revenue. However,
some customers liked to specify their routing to avoid either major
terminals or to pay back a marketing person.

Diversions were specified by the broker. However, a car could be
diverted once without cost to the broker providing the car was going
in a straight line movement between two end points. Example would be
diversion lumber moving from Pacific Northwest via MSTL to Peoria and
Peoria being the broker specified destination. It the car reached
Albert Lea, MN and was diverted to Indianpolis, IN for the final
customer the diversion was free. However, if the diversion was from
Albert Lea, MN to Sioux Falls, SD then, depending on era, was either
treated as a diversion with a specific charge, or as an entirely new
shipment because of the diversion being back in a westward movement.
Brokers made every attempt to sell their product enroute and in a
linear fashion.

Tim Gilbert and I talked a number of times over the years. His
conclusions were based on careful analysis of data and his own
personal background. We are lucky to have had his insight into car
distribution and breakdown of ownership and use.

Dan Holbrook

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