Preventing vs. Paying Claims.
Many roads cling to the belief that their wonderful interior combustion and hot air harmony give the operating department sufficient information to serve the practical purpose. My observation has been that this information is not sufficiently fresh; that it trails along too far behind the actual transaction. Some roads, like the Southern and the ’Frisco, have organized special bureaus in the operating department to minimize the causes of freight claims and to follow up discrepancies while the case is fresh; in other words, to investigate before the claim is filed. Sometimes this duplicates the work of the freight claim office and sometimes it does not.
So bad have been freight loss and damage conditions on most American railroads that almost any kind of attention has resulted in improvement. Nearly every road can cite figures in defense of its particular treatment of the situation. There are many good ways. In the absence of an absolute unit of comparison the best way must be largely a matter of opinion. To me the logical and practical principle has been discovered by two of the best managed railroads in the country, the Chicago & North-Western and the Chesapeake & Ohio.