Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/311

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RAILROAD PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES.

management, and their eagerness to adopt every improvement as soon as produced, chief among which improvements must rank the steel rail. Quoting from Mr. Edward Atkinson, Mr. Fink said that an artisan in the Eastern States pays the transportation from Chicago on a year's food by a single day's labor, and so great have been the reductions during recent years, in railway charges, that, had the rates of 1873 been maintained until 1879, the roads would have had in the interval $922,000,000 more revenue than they actually collected. In 1880 more than three times as much freight was carried by the roads as in 1868, and at sixty per cent less rate; and, although shippers may grudge certain companies the appreciation of their property which has taken place—an advance in value decidedly less than that which has overtaken real-estate holdings generally—no agitation has yet been promoted to pay dividends or make up deficiencies on unprofitable lines, although such lines have been indirectly great sources of prosperity to their districts and the country at large. Mr. Fink recognizes the injustice of charging different prices to different firms for the same service, but has no faith in any attempted legal preventives of the practice. Rebates may be granted a year or two after a transaction, or may take the form of gifts, or in other ways detection may be evaded. His explanation of the disparity so often complained of, between local and through rates, is very interesting. A line is built chiefly to accommodate and develop the region through which it passes; that region, without it, might remain backwoods or unbroken prairie; and, therefore, as the services of the road are of most value to its own district, that district should in justice principally contribute to its support. Now, when a road has a fair local business at regular tariff rates, and can add to its business without proportionate increase of expense by taking through freight originating in a city like Chicago, where many competing roads center, then it is allowable to grant marked reductions in terms to attract a share of through business. It is plainly unfair, under the circumstances, to take the stand of certain complainants and ask that local rates be based upon through rates. Mr. Stanford, President of the Central Pacific Railroad, explains some of the discriminations of his line on the same principle. A car-load is taken from New York to San Francisco for $300, but if dropped at Elcho, 619 miles east of San Francisco, the charge is $800, the sum of the through rate from New York to San Francisco, plus the charge from San Francisco to Elcho. Mr. Stanford points out that his road has to meet severe water competition at San Francisco, and that therefore the local rates charged towns created by the line can have no relation to competitive terms, and must wholly rest on considerations of the revenue to be earned on the capital employed, after the expenses of management are paid. Facts worthy of being weighed in this connection are that cars carrying local freights are, on an average, not more than a quarter filled, and that they are subject