Re: Speaking of private car rosters

Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>


I suspect we have economics and accidents of history to explain why tank
cars and reefers (and to a lesser extent stock cars) were privately
owned, but other car types were not.

Most of these cars were (a) specialized, especially when fitted up for a
particular industry or commodity, and (b) fairly low use compared to
general freight cars. IIRC, most railroads were reluctant to invest in
such specialized cars due to the lower dollar return. So much for the
economics. As for history, Armour tried to corner the market on
refrigerators at the turn of the century, and Standard Oil attempted the
same with tank cars. These companies put considerable pressure on the
railroads not to compete, or lose through routing of the monopoly-owned
special cars. This kept railroads out of the game, and allowed other
private players (or railroad-owned consortiums) to move into this niche
when Armour and Standard Oil lost their monopolies.

As for other car types, consider that Trailer Train, Railbox, and
Railgon more or less did/do offer "private" fleets of cars for hire
today. Of course, these ventures are owned by participating railroads,
but the companies are managed independently.

Kind regards,

Garth G. Groff

Dave & Libby Nelson wrote:

As it appears it was a smart move to form all of the reefer and tank car
companies, why didn't other car types and commodities get addressed this way
too? Fer instance, 50' boxcars with auto racks (or in later years, the
autorack cars). Or plain jane coal hoppers running between Gary Indiana and
the Pocohontas coal belts? Or any covered hopper? Or depressed flatcar?
Superficially at least, it appears these situations are not far off of
reefers from California -- loaded one way and returned empty.

So why wasn't it done?
Dave Nelson

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