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Railway, Railways
(Part 50)


Railways - United States - Rates

The railways of America have enjoyed great liberty in fixing their rates, which, however, have been somewhat restricted by new legislation in several States since 1870, notably one limiting the New York Central to 2 cents (1d.) per mile for all classes of passengers. The average rates for goods have been reduced very much since the Civil War and even since 1875. Passenger rates have also been reduced, but not nearly so much. Table XXXV. shows, in pence, the average goods rates per ton on a few important railways:—

From the whole country the averages in 1884 were—rate per mile, 0·629d.; per ton of goods, 0·502d.; per passenger, 1·178d. This on the average goods rate from 1880 to 1884 was a reduction of 13 per cent., amounting to more than £13,000,000 on the traffic of 1884. The passenger rates of the above-named railways have been in pence per mile (Table XXXVI.):—

The classification of passengers is but little developed in America. For local journeys there are usually but one class and one rate of fare; but on several important lines additional charges are made for certain special kinds of accommodation. Railway "wars" often bring down the through fares to a ridiculously low figure: for instance, the first-class fare for 960 miles, New York to Chicago, has been £2 or less, and the immigrant fare during the spring and summer of 1884 was 4s. The rates on goods are innumerable and are often changed. Table XXXVII. gives examples of the great fluctuations in these rates, the figures being the number of cents per 100 lb. of first-class (the highest class) freight:—

The rates which the railways have endeavoured to maintain on this traffic since 1877 have been, with but slight changes, 75 cents for first-class freight, 60 for second, 45 for third, 35 for fourth, and 25 cents for fifth. The highest of these is at the rate of 1·644 cents per American ton per mile (=0·92d. per English ton per mile); the lowest is 0·548 cent (=0·307d.) The "basis rate" is that on grain and flour from Chicago to New York,—grain, flour, and meats forming about four-fifths of the whole traffic eastwards. Twenty cents (=0·492 cent or 0·275d. per ton per mile) is considered a remunerative rate. Another "basis rate" is that from Chicago south-west to Kansas City, which governs rates from places about 500 miles from Chicago west and south-west. This rate is usually nearly the same as that from Chicago north-west to St. Paul, 400 miles, governing a large amount of traffic in that direction. Between the Missouri river and the Pacific coast is another territory with another basis; and in the south, rates from the Atlantic ports to inland towns are governed by one general rule, as also those from places in the upper Mississippi valley (like St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Louisville) to the same or other interior towns of the south. Traffic is facilitated on the longer routes by organizations known as "fast freight lines," whose cars run over several connecting railways. When first established these lines were independent corporations, owning their cars, collecting the charges for transportation, and paying dividends out of their profits. Now all but a few are simply co-operative agencies of the several associated railway companies, which contribute cars in certain agreed proportions, and share the expenses of the joint agencies, each company receiving the earnings for the freight passing over its railway precisely as for any through freight.

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