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costs thus determined without contribution to less-than-carload deficits, appear as 114.3 cents per ton,2 as compared with the assailed rate of 92 cents.
As stated, these cost studies were based on the results for the so-called strike year of 1946, in which the volume of the iron ore transported was somewhat below normal. On the other hand, the 1947 volume was probably above normal. In that year the iron ore tonnage on the Great Northern increased over 1946 by 34.2 percent. The 92-cent rate continued in effect throughout 1947, without the addition of any general increases, as was true on other traffic, and as indicated, the costs of labor and materials substantially increased.
Duluth Missabe cost 8.-In 1946, the Duluth Missabe operated 569 miles of road and handled 3,054 million ton-miles of freight, of which 2,938 million or 96.2 percent consisted of iron ore. Its total freight operating expenses were $18.3 million or 6 mills per ton-mile.
Here again, complainant computed the costs for the ore traffic on this road based on a ton-mile apportionment of the system operating expenses. Ilowever, because of the small percentage of nonore traflic, the use of this method of apportionment for the Duluth Missa be is not open to important criticism. The costs thus computed were found to be 53.6 cents per ton. The railway tax accruals and net rents chargeable to both freight and passenger service in 1946 were $5,854,879. After deduction of the passenger portion of the expenses, 16.9 cents per ton was assigned to the iron ore traffic. The passenger deticit of this road in 1946 was $636,461, and 1.9 cents per ton was assigned to the iron ore traffic. The allowance for return was computed at a rate of 4.75 percent on complainant's estimated value of the Duluth Missabe of $61,503,582. The return thus chargeable to the ore traffic, based on a ton-mile distribution, is 8.6 cents
The total cost computed by complainant for operating expenses, rents, taxes, passenger deficit, and return is 81 cents per ton, as compared with the assailed rate of 92 cents. This rate applied on about 90 percent of the ore handled by the Duluth Missabe. The 1947 costs, similarly computed, are also 81 cents per ton. The 1918 costs, so computed, are 93 cents per ton, or 12 cents over 1946 costs, as compared with the 1948 general rate increase of 13 cents.
Earnings of defendants.-Without any tax adjustments, the Great Northern net railway operating income fluctuated from $25.04 million in 1946 to $23.8 million in 1947 and $27.2 million in 1948. Based on the recorded investment, plus supplies and cash, less accrued depreciation and amortization, at the beginning of each of the years, those incomes yielded respective returns of 4.48, 4.24, and 4.70 percent. If nonrecurring tax credits are considered, the return on this basis was 3.42 percent in 1946 and 4.06 percent in 1947. The net railway operating income of the Duluth Missabe, without tax adjustments, was $8.67 million in 1946, $8.9 milioni 1947and $IO.1 million in 1949. On the same basis as used for the Great Northern, those incomes yielded respective returns of 10.75, 11.35, and 11.43 percent.
In the fist 9 months of 1949, as compared with the same period in 1948, the net railway operating income declined from $18.9 million to $15.3 million, or by 18.7 percent, on the Great Northern, and from $9.1 million to $8.5 million, or by 6.4 percent, on the Duluth Missabe. On the basis of our valuation of the Great Northern properties as of June 30, 1915, the latest date on which we have had occasion to determine the value of that road, plus subsequent additions and betterments, the rates of return since and including 1946 Vary only slightly from those above shown based on book investment. No elements of value are of record from which we could determine a fair value of the properties used in transportation by the defendants in recent years.
Rate history and comparisons.-In 1908, the Great Northern tariff publishing rates on iron ore to upper lake ports provided that such rates included "weighing, sorting, docking, and delivery to vessel.” The rate thus published from Mesabi Range points to lake docks, for movement beyond by water, was 80 cents. In I9II, the Duluth Missabe's predecessore reduced their rate to hacents, and this reduction was met by the Great Northern. In Lum v. Great Northern Ry. Co., XI. CC 54, we prescribed a rate of 5 cents from the MesabiRangetoupper lake ports, and that rate was established in 1915. The prescribed rate became 63.5 cents under our authorization in 1917. The rate was further increased to
12 The carrier's book investment, less depreciation, was apportioned between line-haul and terminal expenses on the basis of the out-of-pocket expenses. The terminal portion was distributed on a tonnage basis and the line-haul portion on a ton-mile basis between the ore traffic and the nonore traffic.
$1 in 1918, under General Order No. 28 of the Director General of Railroads. In the following year a separate dockage charge of 5 cents was established, and at the same time the line-haul rate was reduced to 95 cents. Under the general reductions of 1922, the rate became 86 cents, with no change in the dockage charge. In 1923 division 1 found this rate and charge not unreasonable in Adriatic Mining Co. v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., supra, and this finding was affirmed in October 1924 by division 1 in Jones & Laughlin Ore Co. v. Director General, 92 I. C. C. 683.
In November 1924, the dockage charge was increased to 10 cents and the rate was reduced to 81 cents. The dockage charge was increased in 1938 to 11 cents, and this charge continued in effect until May 6, 1948, when as stated, it was increased under our general authorization to 13 cents. Except for temporary increases in certain parts of the 1930's the assailed rate of 81 cents continued in effect from 1924 to May 6, 1948, when under our general authorization it became 92 cents, the present rate.
Since 1924, when, as stated, the assailed rate and dockage charge, then aggregating 91 cents, were found not unreasonable, that rate and charge have been increased, in the aggregate, by 15.4 percent. In the same period, by reason of greatly increased transportation costs, experienced by railroads generally, the rail carriers in the western district have successively increased their rates and charges, upon our authorization, by not less than 70 percent. Somewhat lesser increases were made on coal and coke, livestock, grain, and certain other commodities, but on the whole the cumulative increase was much greater than on iron ore to the upper lake ports.
The assailed rate is compared with other rates on iron ore and with numerous rates on other heavy-loading commodities, such as coal, cement, lime, bulk salt, and wheat. In all instances the rates thus used are on a substantially higher level than the assailed rate as applied over the Great Northern, and in some instances on a higher level and in others on a lower level than the assailed rate as applied over the Duluth Missa be. In 1947, the iron ore ton-mile revenues from the Mesabi Range were 6.3 mills on the Great Northern and 9.4 mills on the Duluth Missabe. On the 1946 Mesabi ore the average haul to the upper lake ports approximately 91.8 miles and the average ton-mile earnings were 8.9 mills. From the Marquette and Menominee Ranges to Escanaba, Mich., 60 and 81.3 miles, respectively, the rate at that time was 78 cents and the respective ton-mile earnings were 11.6 and 8.26 mills. The lowest ton-mile earnings under any iron ore rate to the upper lake ports, other than the rate assailed over the Great Northern, are those under the rate from the (uyuna Range to Superior, Wis., 108.2 miles. In 1946, that rate was 81 cents and the earnings, 6.69 mills.
The assailed rate is on a substantially lower level than the ex-lake rates on this same ore from lower lake ports to interior points in official territory. For example, the ex-lake rate to the Leetonia, Ohio, group, for a weighted-average haul of 89 miles, at the time of the filing of the complaint was 94 cents, or 16 percent higher than the assailed rate, and is now $1.40, or 51 percent higher than the present rate under attack. The average carload weight of the ex-lake ore is slightly greater than that to the upper lake ports. While the movements of ex-lake ore are less concentrated than those to the head of the Lakes, they are made over lines of heavy traffic density and under favorable operating conditions. In contrast to the 100 percent empty return movement at the head of the Lakes, the ex-lake carriers transport a large volume of coal on the return trip of the cars. Traffic under the ex-lake rates is subject to demurrage and diversion charges, which is not true of traffie under the assailed rate. The handling charge from lake to rail at the lower lake ports is generally 1 cent per ton less than at the upper lake ports.
The only rate comparison presented by complainant is with a rate of $2.40 on iron ore from Benson Mines, V. Y., to Pittsburgh and Aliquippa, Pa., 510 and 491 miles, respectively, yielding respective earnings of 1.2 and 4.37 mills per tonmile. This is a depressed rate voluntarily reduced by the rail carriers to meet rail-and-lake competition through the port of Clayton, N. Y., on the St. Lawrence River, and therefore can be given little weight in measuring the maximum reasonableness of other rates. The rate was increased to $2.60 under our authorization of December 29, 1947.
For distances approximating the average haul of Mesabi iron ore to the upper lake docks, for which the assailed rate at the time of the hearing was the equivalent of 72.3 cents per net ton, the concurrent rates, per net ton, under maximum reasonable scales prescribed or approved by us in various proceedings on certain other low-grade, heavy-loading commodities were $1.505 on ex-lake bituminous
fine coal from upper lake ports to Minnesota destination ; $1.25 for single-line application on sand and gravel between points in Minnesota and North Dakota; $2.80 on cement between portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and northern Missouri; $2.20 on lime between points in western trunk-line zone I; and $1.80 on common brick from Iowa points to destinations in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
Value of the service.—The movement of iron ore to the upper lake ports is peculiar in that it is highly concentrated and in large volume, and in that it must move by railroad. This latter fact affords no reason by itself for charging what might otherwise be regarded as unreasonable rates, but it is a rate-making factor which neither the carriers nor this Commission may disregard in distributing the total transportation burden among the respective commodities offered, and which has become increasingly important since the recent war as the costs of transportation have mounted and the competition between the respective forms of transportation has intensified.
Complainant contends, however, that the ability of one segment of an industry to bear and absorb rates allegedly far above the full costs of rendering the service should not fix the value of the service for another segment of the industry which is unable to do so. This has reference to the fact, as evidenced of record, that the production costs of beneficiated ore are substantially greater than those of direct-shipping ore, despite reductions in royalties and concessions made by the State of Minnesota in reduced taxes, designed to encourage the production of low-grade ores.
This Commission may not fix rates dependent solely upon the profits of any shipper or group of shippers, but must give consideration to all of the interests affected. Plainly, the transportation conditions attending the transportation of beneficiated ore are not sufficiently different from those of direct-shipping ore to warrant the prescription of different rates on the one than on the other. Nor, as complainant admits, would the record support an attempt to break up the present origin grouping so as to apply a different rate from complainant's origins than from other origins in the Mesabi and Vermilion Ranges. In passing upon these rates and charges, therefore, our consideration of the ability to bear the transportation costs may not be limited to the producers of beneficiated ore alone, but must comprehend the economic condition at least of that portion of the entire industry which ships ore under the rates and charges assailed. There is upon this record no indication that the Mesabo-Vermilion iron ore industry as a whole is in economic distress or that the group rate is in any respect burdensome to it.
Competition from other range8.-In the sale of their ore, complainant and other producers on the Mesabi Range are in competition with iron ore producers on other ranges in the Lake Superior region. Approximately 75 percent of all iron ore shipped to upper lake ports moves from the Mesabi Range, and the proved reserves on that range greatly exceed those on the other ranges. The iron ore price at the lower lake ports, which is published before the start of each shipping season, establishes the price basis for ore of the same iron content from all shipping points in the region.
Because of the greater cost of production, underground ore has had greater difficulty in competing with direct-shipping ore than has beneficiated ore, and only about 2 percent of the total shipments from the Mesabi Range in 1946 consisted of underground ore. On the other hand, practically all of the ore shipped from the Michigan and Wisconsin ranges, and a large portion of the ore from the Cuyuna Range, is underground ore. It is thus plain that any substantial reduction in the rate from the Mesabi Range would reflect itself in a like rate reduction or in reduced tonnage from the other ranges referred to in the Lake Superior region. These latter ranges are served by the intervening carriers, which are less prosperous than the Great Northern, and whose revenues would be seriously affected by a substantial reduction in the rates or tonnage from the ranges served by them.
General discussion and conclusions.-Iron ore furnishes the second largest volume of traffic on the railroads of the country. The bulk of the iron ore traffic to the upper lake ports is carried by relatively few railroads, including defendants and the intervening roads, which derive an important part of their revenues from this traffic. In the case of the Great Northern, iron ore to the upper lake ports constitutes about 45 percent of its total tonnage and conributes about 10 percent of its total freight revenues. The iron ore tonnage has fluctuated widely from year to year, not apparently because of the level of or any change in the freight rates, but because of changes in general business conditions,
particularly in the steel industry. The reserves of high-grade ore, while still substantial, are rapidly dwindling, and in time the low-grade ores must be made to supply most or all of the needs in this respect of the steel industry. When that time comes, it may be that the carriers concerned should be expected to contribute to the continued development of the low-grade ores by a reduction to their rates, but this record fails to show that the level of the assailed rate or charge has thus far retarded, or that it is likely to retard, to any serious extent the use of beneficiated ore. It is significant in this connection that, although a considerable number of producers ship their ore under the rate assailed, including some 13 producers of beneficiated ore, no other shipper of any grade of ore, from the Mesabi Range or from any of the other ranges, intervened in this proceeding.
Complainant's principal reliance is upon cost. The cost data of record, for the reasons previously given, are not convincing that the average revenue derived under the assailed rate and charge by the Great Northern in 1946. exceeded the costs, including return on investment, by more than a small margin, if at all. Detailed cost data for later years are not before us but from other data of record and from the periodic reports made to us by this carrier, as well as from our general knowledge obtained in proceedings wherein these and other carriers throughout the Nation sought authority to increase their rates and charges, we know that the percentage increase in the costs of labor and materials since then has been at least as great as the aggregate increase of 14.1 percent in the assailed rate and charge made in May 1948.
The costs as shown for the Duluth Missabe indicate that the assailed rate for that carrier is relative high, and its prosperous condition supports that view. However, we have repeatedly recognized in general revenue proceedings that the Duluth Missabe presents a special situation with respect to the iron ore rates to the upper lake ports. Its prosperous condition affords no reason in itself for requiring a reduction in the rate under attack. The weight to be given to its earnings must be evaluated along with the earnings from the iron ore traffic and the revenue needs of the Great Northern and of the intervening carriers. These latter carriers, as stated, are less prosperous than the Great Northern, and any substantial reduction in the rate assailed would have a serious effect upon their revenues. Moreover, complainant has not originated any shipments on the Duluth Missabe since 1944, and in that year, the latest period for which the facts are of record, only 6 percent of the total iron ore shipments over that road consisted of beneficiated ore.
From the cost and other data of record, including the comparisons with rates on other commodities, we are convinced that the rates and charges assailed have not been, and are not now, bearing an unjust proportion of the total transportation burden of the carriers affected.
We find that the rates and dockage charges assailed are not shown to have been or to be unreasonable. The complaint will be dismissed.
COMMISSIONER AITCHISON dissents.
COMMISSIONERS ALLDREDGE, PATTERSON, AND Cross did not participate in the disposition of this proceeding.
Analysis of complainant's cost study Complainant's studies are intended to show the costs of transporting iron ore by rail from the mines on the Mesabi Range in the State of Minnesota to the docks of the Duluth Missabe at Duluth, Minn., and the docks of the Great Northern at Allouez, Wis.
The costs were computed on various bases for a number of years, as follows:
1. Costs were developed for the morement of iron ore by the Duluth Missabe for the years 1922–47 based on system freight operating expenses, rents, taxes, and passenger deficits, plus an allowance for return on the cost of the property (freight and passenger).
2. Costs were developed for the movement of iron ore by the Great Northern, based on system unit costs adjusted by the ratio that the cost per net ton-mile for the Mesabi division for the year 1925 bore to the 1925 system costs, for the selected years of 1930, 1936, 1939 to 1941, and 1944 to 1946.
3. Costs for the Great Northern were based also on Minnesota and Wisconsin freight operating expenses, rents, taxes, passenger deficits, and allowance for return, adjusted by the ratio that the cost per net ton-mile for the year 1925
bore to the 1925 costs for Minnesota and Wisconsin, for the selected years of 1930, 1936, 1939 to 1941, and 1944 to 1946.
4. Costs were also developed for the Great Northern based on Minnesota and Wisconsin freight operating expenses, rents, taxes, passenger deficits, and an allowance for return, with transportation expenses adjusted to reflect the added costs during the ore season, for the years of 1940, 1941, 1915, and 1946.
5. Great Northern costs given for the year 1946 are based on freight operating expenses for the Mesabi division and on rents, taxes, and passenger deficits, and return on the cost of property for Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In addition, complainant introduced the out-of-pocket and fully distributed costs, excluding allowance for return but including dock cost, for the handling of iron ore by the Duluth Missabe.
A brief explanation of the procedures used in the development of costs under each basis follows:
1. Cost of Duluth Missabe based on system erpenses.-The operating expenses for each general account (maintenance of way, maintenance of equipment, transportation, etc.) for the years 1922–47 were divided by the system revenue ton-miles to obtain the unit cost per revenue ton-mile for each account for each year. Similarly the unit cost per revenue ton-mile was computed for railway tax accruals and net rents, passenger deficits, and an allowance for return on the cost of property. The return on the cost of property for all years prior to and excepting 1939 was computed by adding to the value shown in Valuation Docket No. 369 (26 Val. Rep. 387) the additions for each year and deducting the accrued depreciation shown by the carriers. The figure for the year 1939 was obtained from Statement 4142 issued by the Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics and represented the recommended value furnished by the Commission's Bureau of Valuation. The cost of property for the year 1940 and subsequent years was computed by adding to this recommended value subsequent additions and deducting accrued depreciation. The return was based on a rate of 5.75 percent for the years 1922–37, inclusive, and a rate of 4.75 percent for 1938 and subsequent years.
The unit costs described above were then multiplied by the iron ore ton-miles and the products aggregated to obtain the total cost of handling the iron ore traffic. This total cost was then divided by the total long tons of iron ore to obtain the cost per long ton.
In computing an allowance for return, complainant first used the freight portion of the cost of the property, based on an operating expense apportionment of the total cost of the property. In a later study, complainant assigned the total cost of return to freight service. This latter study showed a cost for the movement of the iron ore of 81.3 cents per long ton for the year 1946 and 81.2 cents per long ton for the year 1947.
2. Great Northern costs based on system expenses adjusted to reflect the difference in system costs and the Mesabi division costs.-Complainant developed the costs as follows:
a. The Mesabi division costs per revenue ton-mile for the year 1925 were computed by dividing the total freight operating expenses shown in defendants' exhibit submitted in Docket 17,000, Part VII, Grain and Grain Products Within Western District and for Export, by the revenue ton-miles from that exhibit.
b. The cost per net ton-mile, thus computed, was divided by the Great Northern's 1925 system cost per net ton-mile to obtain the ratio of the 1925 Mesabi division costs to the system costs.
c. This ratio was then multiplied by the system cost per net ton-mile computed for each of the years 1930, 1936, 1939 to 1941, and 1944 to 1946 to obtain the socalled Mesabi division costs.
d. The so-called Mesabi division costs were then multiplied by the long tons of iron ore handled in each year to obtain the aggregate costs.
e. An allowance for passenger deficits was computed by dividing the passenger deficits (obtained by subtracting from the system passenger revenue, the passenger expenses, rents, and taxes) by the net ton-miles and multiplying the resultant unit cost by the ton-miles of iron ore.
f. An allowance for return on the cost of property was computed based on a rate of 5.75 percent for the years 1922 to 1937, inclusive, and on a rate of 4.75 percent for 1938 and subsequent years. The return was computed in the same manner as described above for the Duluth Missabe costs.
The costs developed under this basis for the year 1946 were 59.4 cents per long ton.