The most conspicuous difference here shown is that between the tonnage of the Central Pacific and the Eastern roads. This must be considered in noticing the rates charged; for the revenue depends not so much upon what rate is charged as what it is charged upon. The average rate of these Eastern roads is 100 of a cent, while the Central Pacific charge is 2 100 cents. But, on the other hand, the Eastern lines hauled upon an average, to each mile of road, 1,989,851 tons; which is a rather strong contrast to the 229,050 tons hauled by the Central Pacific. While the average rate of the Western company is two and a half times greater, the tonnage is eight and a half times less than on the Eastern lines. The difference in the rates thus seems to be more than counterbalanced by the great disparity shown in the traffic.
Among other inequalities which command consideration in any comparison of the rates of different roads is, in addition to the amount of traffic, the miles of road on which the traffic is carried. There must clearly be a great difference between the expenses of two lines, the one having 100 miles of road with a traffic of 10,000,000 tons, the other having 1,000 miles of road with the same amount of tonnage—supposing, of course, that the average distance each ton is hauled to be the same in either case. Many of the expenses, in connection with stations, etc., are nearly ten times as great in the latter as in the former case, while all the expenses of maintenance and operation are much greater with the longer than with the shorter line.
There is, of course, added to this, the consideration of the value of the property. A line, for instance, of 100 miles, representing $5,000,000 of value, would make, other things being equal, ten times the profit of a road of 1,000 miles, representing $50,000,000 of value. An equal amount of traffic upon roads between which such disparity exists places the shorter road at a great advantage in any comparison—it would make a larger net profit, though having a smaller capital.
Any approximation to an equality of conditions must thus recognize, in addition to the amount of traffic, the miles of road operated. Taking this into consideration, we find further that the average net earnings per mile of road operated, from the freight traffic on the above Eastern lines, is $7,285; and upon the Central Pacific it is but $2,949. We should consider, on the other hand, that, although the Central Pacific system of roads twice crosses the Sierra Nevadas, has many expensive tunnels and snow galleries that cost $40,000 a mile, yet the Eastern lines represent more value, as a portion of each road has double tracks, and the New York Central, for a distance of 286 miles, has even four parallel tracks. Fully considering these differences, however, there still appears no such difference in the values as exists in the net earnings. The conclusion, therefore, seems fully justified, that, although the rates on the Central Pacific are greater, the net receipts are less, than on the Eastern lines; and the difference
- "Report of the New York Central Railroad to State Engineer," 1880, p. 9.