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probably not as knowledgeable in our business as we are, could come along and say, “You have to lay all 132-pound rail,” when it costs $150 a mile to lay 132-pound rail, for no reason. I admit this is hypothetical and may be farfetched.
Mr. MACDONALD. I agree.
Mr. MENK. In the reading of the bill I don't think it can be refuted that they might have the authority to do it.
Mr. MACDONALD. I would doubt it very much.
Mr. BROWN. I do have some questions, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to ask that you look at this booklet.
Do you have a copy of that?
Mr. Brown. Yes, a supplementary memorandum, the “Railroad Safety Record." This has raised a number of questions for me which I would like to go over briefly with you if I could.
I think that the most economical way, from the standpoint of time, is with reference to the tables. I won't press the question of No. 3. I think that is a matter for discussion some other time. But I do want to ask a question on table 3 because you have just made reference to the average weight of rail per yard. Why has that changed?
Mr. MENK. Why has the average weight gone up?
Mr. MENK. Because of heavy traffic, longer trains; because of the technology that the steel companies have benefitted by; because of heavier wear on the rail. It wears longer than lighter rail.
Mr. Brown. Does this make a stronger rail?
Mr. Brown. Why has there been so little new rail laid according to the statistics on table 3?
Mr. MENK. Well, counsel just handed me a statement here. I suppose you want to stay with this one.
When we lay new rail the practice is to take the rail out that has not been worn out but it is accepted that it has weaknesses at the joint where the batter occurs, to take the old rail out and go through a process of what they call propping which takes off about 30 inches or so off the end and then they redrill the bolt holes and relay it.
So if you happen to talk about rail you talk about the new rail that is laid and in addition to upgrading of the secondary lines.
In 1961 there was 287,878 tons of new rail laid; in 1967, 406,060 according to our record.
Secondhand rail, which is this replacement rail, 470,391 tons in 1961 and 581,091 in 1967. So that, we have been relaying consistently more rail.
Another thing, Mr. Brown, that happened is that we have made ourselves available to several processes. First we have better detection.
Secondly, as I explained, the new rail we laid is practically fissure free. We don't have the problems we had years ago.
Mr. Brown. Before you go any further, let me just make a point. You select 1961 and 1967 in the figures you just gave. However, going back to the forties and the early fifties, the amount of new rail laid and the amount of replacement rail laid, although the figures are not shown here, seems to be much higher or in the area of 1915–1,822,000 short tons of new rail laid. Why that radical change?
Mr. MENK. Well, during the war we had tremendous traffic. As a result of the war the railroads, as all of us know, were actually overburdened with traffic and, of course, use is what wears rail out. So that during the war period and in the immediate postwar period it was necessary to lay or relay unusually high amounts of rail. .
We got caught up and then of course we went through a sort of, in the late fifties, economic decline and didn't have the money to buy rail. But we got pretty well caught up on not only rail but crosstie insertions and now we are at a period where in my judgment at least from my experience we are laying enough rail every year so that the railroad will be perpetually maintained at the level that will handle the traffic that it bears.
Mr. Brown. The crossties laid in replacements seem to have declined rather regularly from the total of 50 or 60 million crossties, back in the thirties. The percentage of crossties replaced has gone down from 5.9 to 1.6 percent in recent years.
Does this speak to less miles of track, or certainly not the percentage decline. Is there any reason for the reduction in tie replacement?
Mr. MENK. The treating process for wood ties has become much more effective. In fact a lot of these ties back in the thirties I would suspect were untreated white oak ties which deteriorate in a matter of 10, 12, or 15 years. We have raised the average life of a crosstie now by reason of better treating processes, injection treating, to something between 39 and 40 years per tie.
We have also because of our cyclical maintenance where we go over the track about every 6 or 7 years, much better statistics and we do a better job of inspecting the ties and taking them out. I might say also that to a very small extent now concrete ties are coming into being and their life is estimated at something over 50 years so that the life of a tie is longer which results in fewer insertions per year.
Mr. Brown. Let me move on to another area although I want to ask one final question.
I gather that the laying of heavier weight rail for some reason requires its replacement less often. It seems to me that if we got heavier weight rail because we got heavier traffic they might wear out at the same rate.
Mr. MENK. There is a considerable difference between 112-pound which used to be generally the standard and 132-pound rail.
I couldn't support this by any statistics I have here but in my opinion the volume hasn't increased to the extent of equalling the heavier weights of rail and the techniques that we are using for grinding down rail and so forth and improving the whole structure of the track, and the mechanization we have, I feel that this would be significant.
I think the rail is going to last a lot longer under the practices we have now for handling it.
Mr. Brown. Let me move on to table 4 which talks about mileage protected by centralized traffic control for all railways of the United States. The percentage protected is not indicated here but my question is : Is centralized traffic control good or bad or more safe or less sa fe?
Mr. MENK. Well, CTC is much safer than the old train order methods. I can speak with some authority on that. I am an old train dispatcher myself. Where the switches are remotely controlled and where you have built-in signal indications which provide the speeds that you go and gives you advance warning of being able to stop, CTC has been a great boon to safety, again assuming that the employee complies with the rules.
In CTC a man could go by a red signal. He wouldn't do it but he could go by at 60 miles an hour just as he can in train order territory.
Mr. Brown. I gather that there is little significant, if any, controversy between unions and rail management about centralized traffic control and its advantages.
Mr. MENK. I think not.
Mr. BROWN. What about radio installations? I got the impression that there was some dispute from the safety standpoint on the advantages of radio installations between railway labor and rail operators.
Mr. MENK. Mr. Crotty so testified in bringing out cases where some accidents had occurred which he alleged were the result of improper use of radio,
There again the radio in maintenance of way is a secondary device. I consider it a safety device. I made a little demonstration the other day of the way they are using train service. It use to be if you had 100 cars that the brakeman would get out on a hill and climb a bluff and get on top and signal them back.
Now, all he does is take his radio and say, "Back up four cars, three cars, two cars," and the coupling is made. Certainly anybody will agree that this is much safer than the old hand way.
Mr. BROWx. Let me move on to table 6. I think, perhaps, the indictment here on the question of safety is a little more specific.
Why has the percentage of defective freight cars increased so significantly since the period 1931–66 and then, if I may ask the next question which is a converse of that, why has the percentage of defective locomotives not improved significantly?
It seems to be in a rather stable lerel. Then if you will look at the next page, why the increase in the number of locomotives ordered out of service on table 7, the far side of table 7. This would indicate that while the percent of locomotives found defective has not substantially changed in all years taken together, the number of locomotives ordered out of service as a result of those defects has increased. Is that because there are more locomotives, because there are less locomotives, or because the defects were found to be more severe?
Mr. VIENK. Well, the diesel locomotive is a relatively new machine. It didn't come into heavy use until about 1947 which was when we started buying diesel locomotives in great volume.
I would suppose that the locomotives ordered out of service has increased because those locomotives are getting older, the fleet has aged in its entirety and that
Mr. Brown. Excuse me just a minute. When we are talking about the locomotives out of service, are we talking about locomotives being retired or locomotives ordered out of service because of the repairs required as a result of inspection!
Mr. MENK. Repairs. I suppose this is a function of time that the engine is getting older and they find what they call defects with more locomotives.
Mr. BROWN. Let's get back to the freight cars in table 6.
Mr. MENK. Well, I assume that this is a statement of penalty defects but it is what we call a bad order ratio. I am not sure these figures are right, 7.1. It would seem to me that the figure actually is around 5 percent right now. It may be that a lot of these cars are stored, not used, reported as bad order or, if penalty defects, I assume that again it is a function of the aging of the car fleet. The railroad industry is making less than 3 percent return on its investment and is having a terrible time in some areas to make capital expenditures to replace the older cars they should replace.
Mr. Brown. This relates to the decline as opposed to the number of freight cars.
Mr. MENK. Well, the number of freight cars is declining but the capacity of the fleet is increasing. As we buy more cars the cars we buy are larger and I think the capacity as of right now is increasing in a small rate but the number of cars is declining.
Mr. Brown. But you referred to the low profit return as a factor in the railroad's inability to replace freight cars and, therefore, having more freight cars with defects. If this legislation is passed and standards are set
Mr. MENK. There are already standards set on this. These are what they are talking about. They are talking, I am sure, about DOT inspectors finding penalty defects.
Mr. Brown. Wouldn't it be possible that the Department of Transportation would just require you to replace so many cars that had such and such defect or certain kinds of defects on a regular basis as part of their standards?
Mr. MENK. I am not so sure they would do that. I assume that they would require us to make repairs in accordance and specify the type of repairs, material used, and so forth and so on, to the cars. I don't know. As I said, I haven't seen the standards they propose.
Mr. Brown. Let's assume they do that and that this would have the expected effect on your costs and therefore your profits. Now, what is the next step after that?
Mr. MENK. Then our return would be less than it is now.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman has consumed 17 minutes I am told and I believe we will have to limit our questions. So go ahead for 1 or 2 more minutes and we are going back on the 5-minute rule.
Mr. Brown. Mr. Chairman, I would like to know the significance of the figures which have been presented in this booklet and how they relate to this legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
Mr. Brown. If I can then I would like to have a chance to come back to the witness after others have had their chance to ask questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead now.
If the Department of Transportation by setting its standards requires the replacement of freight cars in accordance with table 6 to get it back down to the 1955 percentage of, say, 4.6 where it is now set at 4.1, and this has an adverse effect on the situation of the railroad profit, is it your presumption that the railroads would come in and ask for rate adjustments in order to take care of this increased cost factor that is required by the safety standards set by the Department.
Mr. Menk. Well, not knowing what it is going to cost I wouldn't know but I would presume that if the cost is a substantial amount of money that we would have to pass this on to the consumer just like other industries do, the automobile industry. I think we would be in the same shape that they would be in. I wouldn't know. Not having the specifics it would be hard to say but, if our costs go up, then the cost of transportation goes up and we have to make a profit to stay in business.
The CHAIRMAN. Will the gentleman present his questions in writing so that they will be submitted for the record so that all can read them. I believe he is getting to hypothetical questions that the gentleman is unable to answer because he said so. I believe if you get those in writing he would have time to consider them and give more definite answers.
Mr. Brown. Let me ask this, if I may, Mr. Chairman.
I would be happy to have in writing from the witness, or from the industry generally, comments on the relative significance of the tables which are presented in this booklet. I think frankly that there are areas of information here which have implied significance which doesn't necessarily follow with reference to such things as the maintenance of rail, track, and length of cars and that sort of thing which I would like to get comments on.
The CHAIRMAN. I think about the only way that you can ever get them is if they have a little time to study them and the group get together on them. Mr. Brown. Thank you. (The information requested follows:)
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS,
Washington, D.C., June 10, 1968. Hon. HARLEY 0. STAGGERS, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Washington, D.O.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: During the recent hearings on H.R. 16980 the railroad industry was asked to comment on certain statistical tables submitted to the Committee as part of the evidence of the labor proponents.
The requested analysis is attached. We believe it demonstrates that the evidence referred to does not constitute any justification for the bill. We request that this analysis be included in the record of the hearings. Respectfully,
WILLIAM M. MOLONEY.
MEMORANDUM At the hearings on H.R. 16980 held on June 4 Congressman Brown asked that the railroad industry furnish an analysis of the significance of the tables contained in the "Supplementary Memorandum” prepared by Mr. Winfield M. Homer and submitted as a part of the evidence of the railway brotherhoods.
The following are comments on these tables :
Table 1 shows freight cars owned by Class I railroads and new freight cars put in service during the years 1930 to 1966. It would appear to bave no relevance