Re: Freight car Distribution

Charlie Vlk

The issuance of David Leider's fine history "Wisconsin Central in Illinois" has triggered some thinking about the traffic on the CB&Q that might be considered as an example of why Freight Car Distribution is not just a statistical exercise. The book gives in-depth background about the railroads building into Chicago in competition with the WC and the intrique of that era.

One would think that the GN and NP would have had financial motivation to channel traffic from the owning railroads to the Q from Minneapolis after Hill bought the Burlington.
But this was not the case..... he artificially controlled the existing traffic allocation to the SOO, M&StL, C&NW, MILW and CGW that existed prior to getting control of the Q.
A recent post by a BN retiree on the CB&Q list confirmed that this even-handed treatment of the competition persisted until the day of the BN merger, when in the middle of a recession the traffic on the Twin Cities Line doubled overnight at their expense.

While this may seem to argue in favor of a statistical solution, the point is that traffic patterns had political, economic, physical route, and regulatory overlays that influenced whose cars showed up where.

The UP/SP (and C&NW) have been cited as examples of this.

Since most of us model specific chunks of a real railroad or model our own road after one the best guide for fleet composition would be source evidence of what cars typically showed up on that line... wheel reports, photos of trains, yards, waybills, photos of industries. National statistics need to be tweaked with the local truth.

Charlie Vlk

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