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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/227

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Fallacy of the Train-Mile Unit.

train must, therefore, move according to a time-table and orders. The space occupied by a train, unlike a stationary machine, is so variable that time becomes the essence of the proposition. The train crew cannot be allowed that freedom of action which permits of piece work. Too many arbitrary conditions are necessarily imposed to warrant a very extended application of a practical bonus system. One delayed train will upset the whole day’s combination. On the other hand, the task imposed upon a train crew is extremely definite and easy to measure, when the equation can be solved for all the variables.

So fallacious a unit of compensation as the train-mile breeds numerous illogical practices. We penalize ourselves every time we run a train without full tonnage. Conditions of traffic may demand quick movement regardless of tonnage. When business is heavy terminals are congested and empty equipment is scarce. We all know that the way to relieve congested terminals is to run light, fast trains. This serves a double purpose, relieving the terminals and increasing the earning power of the equipment. Unfortunately our fundamental conception is so distorted that we mulct ourselves