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UNIFICATION OF THE RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Mileage Mileage Mileage Mileage Mileage
from 600 from 400 from 250 under
II 72 94
18.52 41.73 100.00
6,331 17,460 43,274
14.63 40.35 100.00
17 34 362 436
10,700 26,388 67,697
20.16 13.01 12.04
19 14 20
28 19 27 53 434 561
11.55 10.91 13.14 20.76 100.00
10.53 7.17 7.46 16.98 100.00
44 25 24 44 1055 1192
direction of the Statistician to the Department of Agriculture,
The data relating to changes in rates, given in this article,
1 Bulletin No. 15, Miscellaneous Series, Division of Statistics, United States
The average rates per passenger, and per ton of freight, per mile, on all of the roads of the United States for which the necessary data could be secured, stated in gold, were, during the years named, as follows:
Year. 1870... 1875.. 1880. 1885.. 1890.. 1895 1898
Rates in cents per mile per-, Passenger. Ton of freight. 2.392
The foregoing apparently shows that the average passenger rate advanced slightly from 1870 to 1880, and that during the next eighteen years there was a decline amounting to 19.21 per cent. of the average for 1880; the net decline from 1870 to 1898 being 4.19 mills per passenger mile or 17.52 per cent. Compared with this, the decline in the average rate per mile, per ton of freight, appears especially noteworthy. The latter rate declined 60.14 per cent. during the years from 1870 to 1898, the rate for the earlier year being two and one-half times that of the later, and the net saving to the shippers averaging 1.136 cents per ton-mile. Without in any way limiting or qualifying this statement of the extensive and rapid decline in freight charges, it is necessary, in order that this phase of railway development may be perfectly understood, to establish the fact that the foregoing comparison is scarcely fair to the passenger service. A quotation from the report in which the figures were published will explain the manner in which substantial similarity, among the things compared, has been lost in connection with passenger service, though it has been practically continuous in freight service. This difference fixes a limit to the value of the statistical method as applied to passenger rates. On this subject the report says: “The accommodations offered to the traveling public during the years prior to 1870 were greatly inferior to those provided at the present time, and the last three decades have been characterized by an improvement that has been continuous and progressive. The time required for passage between important cities is now but half, or less than half, that formerly consumed, and the safety of passengers has been correspondingly increased. Though it may appear
that the decrease in the charges for the transportation of passengers has not been as great as that in the charges for freight service, it should be borne in mind that the thing which the traveller purchases with the money paid as fare has varied in his favor in every important element except that of distance. The dollar with which a man purchases transportation in a train moving at a modern rate of speed, provided with air brakes and automatic couplers, with coaches of modern construction, over a track composed of Bessemer steel rails weighing one hundred pounds to the yard, on a line provided with block signalling apparatus, purchases vastly more than a dollar paid for transportation under the conditions which existed but one or two decades ago."
Nevertheless if comparisons are made between the rates charged for particular services, at widely separated dates, many very important reductions will be found. For example, in 1848, it cost $4.00 to go by rail from New York to Philadelphia, and five hours were required for the journey. At present the rate is $2.50, and the faster trains make the trip in two hours.
The following table shows many similar changes:
1848. 1898. 1848. 1898.
Hrs. Min. Hrs. Min. Boston, Mass. Albany, N. Y.
5 45 $5.00 $4.50 Fitchburg, Mass.
50 2 30 I 21 1.25 1.25 Portland, Me. 115 5 30 3
2.50 Providence, R. I.
1.25 1.00 Philadelphia, Pa. Harrisburg, Pa... 105
35 4.00 3.15 Baltimore, Md.
3.00 2.80 Havre de Grace, Md.. 60
1.77 Baltimore, Md. Annapolis, Md.... 26
1.60 1.00 Washington, D. C...- 40
45 2.00 1.20 Frederick, Md.
2 20 2.50 1.75 Cumberland, Md... 192
But it is in freight rates that the reduction has been greatest, and that any reduction is most important. Data regarding the reduction in the average rates, per ton of freight per mile, have already been given. The following statement shows similar data for a few selected railways:
The averages for the roads shown illustrate very fairly the extent of the downward tendency of railway charges in the various sections in which they are located, and the table thus presents a view of the downward movement throughout the entire country. Without going back of 1883 (that year being made a basis of comparison, to avoid any complication due to the difference between values expressed in gold and in currency), it is important to note that the reductions of the last fifteen years have equalled 30.76 per cent. of the rate of 1883 for the Fitchburg Railroad; 26.84 per cent. for the Erie Railroad; 27.20 per cent. for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway; 51.50 per cent. for the Illinois Central Railroad; 37.35 per cent. for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway; 54.81 per cent. for the Southern Railway; and 50.03 per cent. for the Union Pacific Railway. The aggregate revenue of these roads, from freight service, was, in 1898, $114,152,720. At the rates obtained in 1883, the traffic carried by them in 1898 would have produced $195,460,806, and the total saving to the patrons of these roads, on account of reductions made within fifteen years, was, therefore, $81,308,086. From 1883 to 1898 the average rate per ton, per $ mile, for the entire United States, declined from 1.205 cents to -753 cent. The saving to shippers of freight in the single year 1898, by this reduction, estimated upon the basis of the total * Rates for these years reduced to their equivalents in gold.
• Average for five months ended June 30, 1898 ; average for previous seven months, .950 cent.
freight movement of that year, was $515,630,645. The entire revenue from freight in 1898, for all the railways of the country, was $876,727,719. This saving may also be profitably compared with the total amount paid in dividends and interest on railway securities, during 1898, which was $342,279,580.
An examination of the charges for specific services in the transportation of property will usually show similar results.
Rates on eastward-bound shipments from Chicago to New York are the basis upon which all rates, applied to traffic originating west of a line from Toronto to Huntington, West Virginia, and destined to points on or near the Atlantic seaboard, are calculated. Thus any changes in the Chicago to New York rate correspondingly affect all charges in the territory indicated. Remembering this fact and recalling the vast grain traffic originating west of that line, it is clear that no single rate can be of more importance than that charged for moving grain from Chicago to New York.
The following table shows average yearly rates on wheat and corn between those points via the all-rail routes:
AVERAGE RATES' IN CENTS PER BUSHEL.
12.00 Instances of reductions could be multiplied almost indefinitely. The rate on canned goods, when shipped in carload quantities, from San Francisco to New York was $4.20 per hundred pounds in 1880; $1.00 in 1890; and 75 cents in 1897. The rate on raisins between the same points was $4.20 per hundred pounds in 1880; $2.95 in 1890; and $1.00 in 1897. The rate per hundred pounds on grain shipped in carload quantities, from St. Paul to Chicago, was 20 cents in 1883 and 12.5 cents in 1897.
1 Rates for 1863 to 1878 inclusive reduced to equivalents in gold; other years as reported by the Chicago Board of Trade.