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The deflection of commerce from certain important centers of trade and of industry has led to certain efforts in this country toward the construction of railroads in the interest of particular cities, and for the regulation of rates on the great trunk lines. One of the plans proposed for the accomplishment of this latter purpose is that of
A DOUBLE-TRACK FREIGHT RAILROAD, ESPECIALLY DESIGNED TO ENGAGE IN THROUGH TRAFFIC BETWEEN THE WEST AND THE SEA
It is susceptible of proof that a double-track railroad employed in the carriage of freight to the full limit of its capacity would form a cheaper line of transport than any existing rail line. This fact is clearly recognized by persons familiar with the circumstances and conditions governing the economy of transport by rail; and there appears to be no doubt that when the commerce between the West and the seaboard shall have increased sufficiently to require the enormous capacities for transportation which would be afforded by such a road the demand will be met. Indeed, that demand has been, in a measure, supplied already by the New York Central Railroad Company in its “four-track line" from Buffalo to Albany. There are, howerer, well-informed persons who think that the facilities afforded by that company are somewhat in advance of the actual demands of commerce. The additional doubletrack freight-line is said to have cost about $25,000,000.
In the case of the company just mentioned the extraordinary capacity for transportation has not been provided especially to meet the demands of " through traffic" between the West and the seaboard, but mainly to meet the requirements of an enormous mixed traffic, embracing the car. riage of freight and passengers—local and through traffic—and in order to meet the exigencies of fast and slow trains ;-express and way trains.
Perhaps a general estimate of the necessity for the extraordinary track facilities provided by the managers of the New York Central Rail. road may be formed from the following comparative statement collated from the last annual reports of the New York Central and of the Pennsylvania Railroad Companies:
The freight-traffic over the Pennsylvania Railroad appears to have slightly exceeded the freight-traffic on the New York Central Railroad, but the passenger-traffic of the New York Central Railroad is more than double that on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Evidently the New York Central Railroad requires more extensive track-facilities than the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Company is now pursuing the policy of gradually enlarging its facilities, in the way of tracks, at points where such additional tracks are, from time to time, found to be necessary, in order to avoid the detentiou of trains. On those portions of the road where the train movement can be accommodated by a double-track road, only two tracks are provided. On other parts of the line three tracks have been provided, and at certain points four and even more tracks have been laid, and additional tracks are constantly being provided at points where the concentration of traffic requires such increased facili. ties. It is probable that in the course of a few years this road will have four continuous tracks from New York and Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. The policy of providing track-facilities pursued by the New York Central and by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company does not therefore appear to differ very much. Several years will elapse, however, before the traffic on the roads west of Buffalo and west of the Ohio River will require four tracks, there being at the present time but one continuous line of double track from the seaboard to the city of Chicago, viz, the one formed by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad.
The tendency on the part of railroad-managers in all parts of the country has been rather to anticipate the public requirements by supplying tracks, equipment, and terminal facilities than to wait for the actual demands of commerce. Indeed, one of the most marked features of the strife which has been going on for several years between the rival trunk lines is the enormous increase in the capacity of those lines, both in equipment and in tracks. This has led to a reduction in rates, and to all the difficulties which have arisen respecting the maintenance of remunerative competitive rates. The supply of the facilities for transportation has far exceeded the demands of commerce, and the natural result has been that rates have fallen and that the value of the properties of the roads themselves has suffered an enormous depreciation.
The construction of a double-track freight-railroad has been advocated upon the ground that its great capacity would afford cheaper transportation than on any of the existing lines. But a fundamental condi- . tion of the economy of providing enlarged facilities for carrying on any enterprise is that the net income from the additional business secured shall exceed the interest on the additional capital invested for the purpose of attaining that object. A failure to conform the magnitude of the instrumentality employed to the work to be done has already led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in unproductive railroad in. vestments.
It may be readily shown that, under existing conditions as to the volume of traffic between the West and the seaboard, the cost of providing and maintaining the extraordinary facilities of a doubletrack freight-railroad would cause the cost of transportation upon it greatly to exceed the cost of transportation even upon some of the existing single-track lines engaged in a mixed freight and passenger, local and through traffic.
Various estimates have been made as to the capacity of a doubletrack freight-railroad. For the purpose of the present consideration, the capacity assumed by Mr. C. P. Morehouse, assistant engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, may be taken. Mr. Morehouse assumes the tonnage on such a road to be:
Tons per annum. Eastward
24,000,000 As the result of a careful computation, be found that the amount of tonnage eastward would require a flow of trattic in an unbroken current of one hundred trains daily, each train consisting of fifty cars, the cars weighing eight tons each and carrying loads of twelve tons, an interval of ten minutes being allowed between the time of the running of trains; or, to employ the language of the gentleman abore named, " allowing the operations of the road to fow on like the current of a mighty river, undisturbed by drought or by freshets." Evidently such favorable conditions cannot be realized in practice. Almost insuperable difficulties present themselves, not only as to the movement of so many trains, but as to the terminal facilities which would be required for such av enormous traffic.
But aside from the question of capacity, the practicability of securing the requisite amount of traffic is the condition which determines the whole question.
During the year 1875, the total east and west tomage of the New York State canals, the New York Central Railroad, the Erie Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad amounted to 26,216,000 tons. This, however, embraced the entire through and local tonnage of the three rail. roads mentioned, and the entire tonnage, both local and through, of all the canals of the State of New York. The total tonnage of the New York canals amounted in the year 1875 to 4,859,858 tons, whereas the through tonnage east and west amounted to only 1,351,203 tons. It is estimated that the entire through traffic between the Western States and the States of the Atlantic seaboard does not exceed 8,000,000 tons annually. This clearly indicates that the fundamental coudition ot' cheap transportation on a double-track freight-railroad, viz, a traffic of about 24,000,000 tons, cannot be secured at the present time, nor until after the commerce between the West and the East has increased to several times its present volume.
There is no railroad company in this country which can afford to refuse any class of traffic, through or local, which will, under any circumstances, yield an absolute profit, or the carriage of which will yield better results than refusing it, volume of traffic being the most important condition toward securing cheap transportation.
At the present time the great through lines obtain the larger part of their net profits from their local traffic. This is illustrated by the relative amount of local and through trattic on the Pennsylvania Railroad : Ton mileage of through freight....
... 484, 043, 840 Ton mileage of local freight.
995, 370, 626 Not ouly does the local traffic of this line and of the other trunk lines greatly exceed the through traffic, but the rates which are realized from the former greatly exceed those which can be obtained for the latter.
A single-track road operated by the aid of the telegraph has a very large capacity, and there are comparatively few even of the so-called "trunk lines" which have a traffic large enough to warrant the expense of a double track.
If the double-track freight-line of the New York Central Railway shall prove to be a source of profit, its success will be due to the foilowing exceptional advantages: First. That it has the most remunerative local freight traffic of any great trunk line in the United States. Second. That it has a larger passenger traffic than any other trunk line in the United States. Third. That it has the following valuable eastern connections or feeders, viz, a double-track line from Albany to New York, the Had. son River from Albany and from Athens on the Hudson to New York City, and railroad connections with all parts of the New England States by the Boston and Albany Railroad, and the Hoosac Tunnel lines, Fourth. That it has a number of tributaries or branches to its main line which bring to it a large amount of traffic. Fifth. That it has an immense lake commerce tributary to it at Buffalo; and, Sixth. That by means of its western rail connections, the Grand Trunk Railway, the Great Western Railway of Canada, the Canada Southern Railway, and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, and the connecting lines of those roads, there is drawn to it a large share of the commerce of the Western States.
It has been supposed that a new line, so constructed and operated as to afford cheaper transportation than any existing line, would secure the larger proportion of the entire through traffic between the West and the seaboard. This is believed to be an error. There are certain geographical limits to the traffic-interests of each transportation-line, limits which are determined by the location of the line itself, the number, extent, and location of its connecting lines, and the nature of the combinations and agreements which it can enter into with other lines.
That a new trunk line, supplying facilities for cheaper transportation than any known line, would operate as a regulator of rates on other lines, is undoubtedly true, but each of the other lines and their branches would also be able to secure a hare of the throngh traffic within certain geo. giaubical limits. This fact is illustrated by the competition existing between the lake and canal route and the various trunk lines connecting the West with the seaboard. The water-line is the cheapest route of all, and it operates as a valuable regulator of rail rates; but, not withstanding this fact, during the year 1876, 83 per cent. of all the grain which reached the seaboard cities was transported on railroads and ouly 17 per cent. was transported on the Erie Canal.
The facts as to the volume of traffic and the very low rates which have prevailed during the last two years prove that no new line can be sustained upon through traffic alone.
In the foregoing statement an attempt has been made to point to the impolicy of constructing a double-track freight railroad at the present time, mainly for the purpose of affording cheap transportation for the surplus products of the West, or, in other words, for the purpose of transporting an amount of through tratfic which canuot be secured. It is not to be inferred, however, from considerations such as these, that no neuc trunk line should be constructed, either in the interest of any Atlantic seaport, of the section of country along its line, or of producers in the Western States. On the contrary, the fact is clearly appreciated that the development of the vast resources of this country will not only require new trunk lines, but also many lateral lines, until every center of local trade is placed within reach of the facilities of transportation by rail. Additional trunk lines will be required, whose interests shall be closely identified with the interests of their termini. Such roads must, however, be constructed upon well-established economic and commercial principles touching the adaptation of means to ends. Every road constructed with due regard to these considerations may become a source of profit, not only to its proprietors, but to the section of the country in which it is located, although its aggregate traffic may be far below its maximum capacity. The managers of every new railroad must aim to secure traffic of all kinds and from every available source, even if such traffic yields but a very small margin of profit beyond the actual cost of hauling and handling, and the enlargement of facilities must never be far in advance of the demands of the traffic. Under such a policy, the time may come when a double track will be required, and the highest development of railway enterprise yet realized will have been reached when the traffic shall have attained a magnitude requiring the enormous capacity of a double-track line exclusively for the transportation of freight.
THE CINCINNATI SOUTHERN RAILWAY.
The construction of the Cincinnati Southern Railway by the city of Cincinnati is an enterprise which has commanded public attention, from the fact that it is an effort made by a commercial city for the purpose of defending its interests against the competition of rival cities. This road extends from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tenu. Ciucinnati has, for many years, carried on a large and very profitable commerce with all the States lying south of the Ohio River and south of the southern boundary of the State of Missouri, the avenues of this commerce at the present time being the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the railroads wbich have been