Page images
PDF
EPUB

DEAR SIRS: I am enclosing with this letter copy of a statement agreed to by representatives of the grain and flour milling trades of the Central West at a meeting held in Kansas City on March 22, together with copies of letters to Mr. J. J. Pelley, president of the Association of American Railroads, and to Col. J. Monroe Johnson, Director, Office of Defense Transportation, all of which relate to the current shortage of box cars for loading grain and grain products and are self explanatory.

I was directed by those present at the meeting to bring this matter to the attention of the members of the Interstate Commerce Commission with the request that the Commission take some action in the matter to inquire into the circumstances and determine if some remedial action should not be taken. Please regard this letter, therefore, as a formal request to that effect.

So far as we are aware the Interstate Commerce Commission has, up to this time, taken no action of any kind to improve the conditions which result in the abnormal dislocation of boxcars, the immediate cause of the severe car shortage in the West. It may be that the Commission has established a policy to obtain during the period of the war to defer to the Office of Defense Transportation in such matters as underlie the car shortage. If this is so, we should look to the Office of Defense Transportation, but that agency has apparently not taken such action as would bring the necessary relief. It was the firm conviction of those attending the meeting that the Interstate Commerce Commission should exercise its powers under the Act in the circumstances here presented.

You are requested to advise me the attitude of the Commission in this matter
We have a bad situation, steadily growing worse, and tne proper authorities
should, in our opinion, do something about it.
Respectfully,

E. R. JESSEN, President.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION,

Washington, March 31, 1945. Mr. E. R. JESSEN,

President, The Board of Trade of Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo. DEAR MR. JESSEN: Your letter of March 23, addressed to Chairman Rogers requesting that the Commission inquire into the circumstances surrounding the present shortage of boxcars for loading grain and grain products and determine if some immediate action should be taken to improve the car supply for those commodities, has been referred to me, as Chairman of Division 3, for reply.

Division 3 has charge of car-service matters, as definied in the Interstate Cominerce Act. Commissioner Johnson is a member of this division, as well as Director of the Office of Defense Transportation. All the statutory powers of the Commission with respect to car service, including the issuance of service orders, are exercised by the Commission, through Division 3, which has been currently informed of the shortage of cars of which you complain and of the action taken to minimize the effect.

The Commission has not relinquished any of its powers with respect to car service to the Office of Defense Transportation and could not do so under the statute. The policy of the two organizations has been to work closely together, each having the benefit of the experienced personnel of both organizations.

Since the receipt of your letter the situation has been reviewed again by Division 3 and the Office of Defense Transportation.

I am enclosing herewith a mimeographed statement entitled "Situation with Respect to the Current Shortage of Cars for Grain and Grain Products Loading." This statement, which was prepared after conference between representatives of the Commission, the Office of Defense Transportation and the car-service division of the Association of American Railroads, sets forth, item by item, the allegations contained in your Statement of Grain and Flour Milling Interests Regarding the Shortage of Boxcars, which accompanied your letter, and replies thereto.

I am also enclosing the statement of our Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics, dated March 29, 1945, showing the weekly revenue freight loadings. It will be seen that for the week ending March 24, 1945, 45,822 cars were loaded, -as compared with 44,067 for the previous week, and 43,261 for the week ending March 25, 1944. Assuming that cars can be supplied to continue the present volume until the last week in June 1945, the railroads will at that time have moved 48,000 more carloads of grain and grain products than were moved during the same period a year ago.

I attach also a chart showing the boxcar surpluses and shortages for 1944 and 1945. The boscar shortage is greater now than at any time during many years.

There is furnished also a three-page statement from the Export-Import Section The outlook for the next 15 months is most alarming. You will probably store more grain in the producing areas this year than ever before. I am informed that the Department of Agriculture is making provisions and arrangements therefor. There will be throughout our commercial activities difficulties in transportation. We hope that such difficulties may be averted for the military.

[graphic]

Immediately on receipt of this letter from the Board of Trade of Kansas City, the Office of Defense Transportation and the Interstate Commerce Commission called in the Association of American Railroads to discuss the various statements made in your letter and your recommendations. The Association of American Railroads was asked to write up the conclusions there reached, using reports and data of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Association of American Railroads. That was done, has been verified, and the statement is herewith enclosed. It would seem your letter needs no further comment, except your proposal "that immediate consideration be given to the appointment by you (me) of a committee of railway operating officials not to exceed three in number to be advantageously located within the eastern congested area, whose responsibility would be to work with the railways in an effort to break up the seriously congested situation * * * and that such committee be given absolute authority to support its judgment in whatever way may be necessary to obtain the result so badly needed.” I presume that this was copied by you from a recommendation made to me by the Office of Defense Transportation-Interstate Commerce Commission Grain and Grain Products Transportation Conservation Committee in Chicago during the congestion which was almost as absurd then during the congestion as it is now after the congestion. Did you ever pause to think that I have at my command the talent and experience of every railroad man in the United States and that they were all giving their expert advice, work, and collaboration to the breaking up of the congestion, together with many hundreds of soldiers and thousands of cilivians? It was successfully done, and much earlier than anybody, including the Grain Committee and, I presume, you, would have thought possible, with the result that empty cars moving west at the rate of only 604 on March 1 reached 1,039 by the 8th, and nearly 1,500 by the 13th. On the 16th empty boxcars moved west at the rate of 1,654. During the first 29 days of March, there moved to the West 33,546 empty boxcars, an average of 1,157 cars per day, much of this movement during the congestion, and many other thousands of loaded cars that were made empty in the West. Chart is herewith enclosed.

I hope sincerely that you will study the enclosures in order that you may grasp the full meaning and import of each.

I have found the Board of Trade of Kansas City helpful in the past, although last year, on your insistence, my agents were persuaded to allow congestion to develop in Kansas City which had to be straightened out ruthlessly. The transportation problems in front of us will require hearty, cordial cooperation and that each of us lose sight of our own selfish interests for the common good. There is no other way to solve this transportation problem. That method in the past has made the accomplishments of transportation possible, and I place those accomplishments not second to those of the Army or the Navy. I sincerely hope that you are in a position in the difficulties ahead to render that customary hearty support and cooperation. Very cordially yours,

J. M. JOHNSON, Director.

(Enclosures. Distribution to all parties known to be interested.)
THE BOARD OF TRADE OF Kansas City, Mo.,

Mareh 23, 1945. The Honorable

John L. ROGERS, Chairman
CLYDE B. AITCHISON,
CLAUDE R. PORTER,
WILLIAM E. LEE,
CHARLES D. MAHAFFIE,
CARROLL MILLER,
Walter M. W. SPLAWN,
J. HADEN ALLDREDGE,
WILLIAM J. PATTERSON,
J. MONROE JOHNSON,
GEORGE M. BARNARD,

Interstate Commerce Commission.

DEAR SIRs: I am enclosing with this letter copy of a statement agreed to by representatives of the grain and four milling trades of the Central West at a meeting heid in Kansas City on March 22, together with copies of letters to Mr. J. J. Pelley, president of the Association of American Railroads, and to Col. J. Monroe Johnson, Director, Office of Defense Transportation, all of which relate to the current shortage of box cars for loading grain and grain products and are self explanatory.

I was directed by those present at the meeting to bring this matter to the attention of the members of the Interstate Commerce Commission with the request that the Commission take some action in the matter to inquire into the circumstances and determine if some remedial action should not be taken. Please regard this letter, therefore, as a formal request to that effect.

So far as we are aware the Interstate Commerce Commission has, up to this time, taken no action of any kind to improve the conditions which result in the abnormal dislocation of boxcars, tne immediate cause of the severe car shortage in the West. It may be that the Commission has established a policy to obtain during the period of the war to defer to the Office of Defense Transportation in such matters as underlie the car shortage. If this is so, we should look to the Office of Defense Transportation, but that agency has apparently not taken such action as would bring the necessary relief. It was the firm conviction of those attending the meeting that the Interstate Commerce Commission should exercise its powers under the Act in the circumstances here presented.

You are requested to advise me the attitude of the Commission in this matter
We have a bad situation, steadily growing worse, and tne proper authorities
should, in our opinion, do something about it.
Respectfully,

E. R. JESSEN, President.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION,

Washington, March 31, 1945. Mr. E. R. JESSEN,

President, The Board of Trade of Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo. DEAR MR. JESSEN: Your letter of March 23, addressed to Chairman Rogers requesting that the Commission inquire into the circumstances surrounding the present shortage of boxcars for loading grain and grain products and determine if some imme-liate action should be taken to improve the car supply for those commodities, has been referred to me, as Chairman of Division 3, for reply.

Division 3 has charge of car-service matters, as definied in the Interstate Commerce Act. Commissioner Johnson is a member of this division, as well as Director of the Office of Defense Transportation. All the statutory powers of the Commission with respect to car service, including the issuance of service orders, are exercised by the Commission, through Division 3, which has been currently informed of the shortage of cars of which you complain and of the action taken to minimize the effect.

The Commission has not relinquished any of its powers with respect to car service to the Office of Defense Transportation and could not do so under the statute. The policy of the two organizations has been to work closely together, each having the benefit of the experienced personnel of both organizations.

Since the receipt of your letter the situation has been reviewed again by Division 3 and the Office of Defense Transportation.

I am enclosing herewith a mimeographed statement entitled “Situation with Respect to the Current Shortage of Cars for Grain and Grain Products Loading.” This statement, which was prepared after conference between representatives of the Commission, the Office of Defense Transportation and the car-service division of the Association of American Railroads, sets forth, item by item, the allegations contained in your Statement of Grain and Flour Milling Interests Regarding the Shortage of Boxcars, which accompanied your letter, and replies thereto.

I am also enclosing the statement of our Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics, dated March 29, 1945, showing the weekly revenue freight loadings. It will be seen that for the week ending March 24, 1945, 45,822 cars were loaded, as compared with 44,067 for the previous week, and 43,261 for the week ending March 25, 1944. Assuming that cars can be supplied to continue the present volume until the last week in June 1945, the railroads will at that time have moved 48,000 more carloads of grain and grain products than were moved during the same period a year ago.

I attach also a chart showing the boxcar surpluses and shortages for 1944 and 1945. The boxcar shortage is greater now than at any time during many years.

There is furnished also a three-page statement from the Export-Import Section of the Office of Defense Transportation showing a yearly record of export loadings for 1941-44 by regions.

[graphic]

Your letter states that the Office of Defense Transportation has apparently not taken such action as would bring the necessary relief. For that reason Commissioner-Director Johnson will reply direct to you and each of those shown as signing the statement which accompanied your letter and will furnish the same documents which I enclose.

Speaking for Division 3, and after current investigation, it is believed that the policies and methods so far pursued will more quickly furnish the relief you seek than would the methods you propose because the methods now used are in keeping with the other gigantic demands on transportation which you obviously overlooked. Yours sincerely,

(Signed) CARROLL MILLER,

Chairman, Dirision 3.

Interstate Commerce Commission Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics

Interstate Commerce Commission-Office of Defense Transportation Traffic Forecast Section, weekly revenue freight loadings, Association of American Railroads

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Mr. Case. The newspaper account said 2,500 cars were to be delivered daily to the western connections until the situation had been corrected. The newspapers did not say that the railroads would be turned over to three men, but that the Board of Trade made a petition to the Director of the 0. D. T., and he regards the right of petition as presumptuous on the part of the American people.

Colonel Johnson. No; I did not say that. I was so mad I couid have shot that man then, so I have no apologies to make.

Mr. Case. Did you tell him that you could have shot him?
Colonel JOHNSON. Yes. I have seen him since.

I want to put into the record an editorial from the Bismarck Tribune on the subject thanking God that there is one man in the Government that is not going to be pushed around.

Mr. Cannon. The editorial may be included at this point.

[graphic]

(The matter referred to is as follows:)

REFRESHING INCIDENT Office of Defense Transportation Director J. M. Johnson recently "told off” the Kansas City grain trade in a manner which is distinctly encouraging and refreshing. He'll catch hell” for it, of course, but if the Nation is lucky there will be other instances of straight talking and the country will benefit immensely thereby.

Johnson "sounded off” when the grain interests of the Kansas City district sent him a resolution demanding more cars to move grain from that area. The group was concerned because a new harvest will be coming in within a few months and they want to clear their elevators and warehouses. As is the custom in such cases, they demanded that 2,500 cars be delivered daily to western connections until the "dislocation” has been corrected. Furthermore, they pointed out that a great many cars owned by western railroads and ordinarily available now are being used by eastern roads.

Said Mr. Johnson:

"It is not unusual for some group interested in a certain commodity to insist on its relief in utter disregard to transportation of others, including the military, but your action is the most outstanding instance of disregard of the transportation of others I have yet experienced.

"It is a little discourging that a group of men such as you, without any general knowledge of transportation difficulties, would attempt a solution by allocating to yourselves a profitable and easy transportation road which would, if followed, paralyze the whole transportation situation and have an immediate effect on the war effort and would result in ultimate disadvantage to yourselves.

"American transportation, in view of the record it has established in this world war, with 600,000 fewer freight cars and other serious deficiencies as compared with the first world war, deserves more confidence than you exhibit.

"It would seem to me that you would appreciate that you are presumptious to make such recommendations. I consider you so."

There are two ways of looking at this forthright declaration. One group doubtless will shout that public servants shouldn't talk back to their bosses in that manner and say the letter proves how arbitrary government is becoming.

But a sounder view is that public officials should be encouraged to state their views with as much frankness as others enjoy and should be permitted to do so without penalty.

The fact, of course, probably is that Johnson doesn't care whether he continues as Office of Defense Transportation chief or not; that he can make as good & living or a better one in some other job. It is rather obvious that the Kansas City men got his goat and he let them have both barrels.

If every public official would do the same thing we would have a greatly improved situation. There would be plenty of unholy screams but a lot of truth would come to light. If such a condition prevailed for only a short time we might even develop a situation wherein people would try to see national problems from more than their selfish viewpoint. This would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. In fact, it would almost mark the millenium.

TRUCK TRANSPORTATION IN THIS WAR Mr. CASE. You said that there were 600,000 fewer freight cars available during this war to work with than we had in World War I. What is the volume of truck traffic, or traffic carried by trucks and motor transportation in this war compared with World War I?

Colonel JOHNSON. We did not have any trucks to speak of then, but I referred to what the railroads did in World War II, and it is generally with 600,000 fewer freight cars, and 22,000 less locomotives, and 15,000 less passenger cars we are carrying double the freight and passenger loads that were carried then.

Mr. CASE. What job has been done by truck transportation in this war?

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »