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Regarding the second circumstance, a change in conditions has occurred which reduces the importance of competitive equality (proportionality) in the distribution of coal cars, and that is the need to encourage the preservation of, or additions to, the Nation's fleet of cars. In docket No. 35440, supra, we noted that, with respect to the distribution of cars other than to coal mines, investment by shippers in private cars is generally not profitable but is influenced mainly by chronic shortages of railroad-owned equipment. Thus, if shippers are, in effect, deprived of the use of their own cars during car shortages, they will find it more prudent to divest themselves of those now owned rather than to invest in additional cars. Such a result would adversely affect the total number of cars available nationally, to the detriment of the general public. Moreover, during a period of car shortage, every private car in use results in one more railroad-owned car becoming available to shippers generally, and thus noninvesting shippers indirectly benefit from the purchases of investing shippers. We further concluded in docket No. 35440, supra, that the argument that railroads would respond to private car purchases by permitting their own fleet of cars to decline was unsound. In addition, we admonished the carriers to observe their common carrier obligations under the act to furnish safe and adequate car service, including the acquisition of equipment used in furnishing such car service. Finally, we noted that any potential prejudice against small shippers caused by not including privately owned cars in the total pool of cars available for distribution should properly be handled on an individual basis. The same conclusions are warranted here for the same reasons.
Furthermore, regarding the second circumstance mentioned above, competitive equality (proportionality) in the distribution of coal cars is no longer more important than encouraging efficient and economical transportation. Modern unit-train operations generally have increased in efficiency and importance. For example, the unit-train operation serving Wisconsin Electric Power Company features a rotary dumper, a radio-controlled locomotive to pull cars through the dumper, cars (shipper-owned) with swivel coupling which permit dumping without uncoupling, and cars of uniform size and style to fit the rotary dumper. These features permit relatively. rapid unloading time. A unit train serving United States Steel from Lynch, Ky., to Gary, Ind., has been moving as much tonnage with 845 cars as could have been moved by 2,500 cars in conventional service. In 1970, single-car shippers used more than 90 percent of the L&N's coal-car fleet to move less than 68 percent of its total
coal tonnage. Indeed, the Commission has recognized the efficiency of unit-train operations and has approved rate reductions for such service as being in the public interest. It is also recognized that although coal moved in "train lots in shuttle service" at the time of the Assigned Cars case, technological advances in the last 50 years have increased the efficiency of such movements in relation to conventional movements, especially in the case of unit trains.
In addition, a significant percentage of the total coal shipped moves in unit trains, especially for electric power and steel production. For example, in 1970, the L&N transported about 32 percent of its originated coal volume in unit trains, and for the period October 1, 1970, through September 30, 1971, the Georgia Power Company received approximately 59 percent of its bituminous coal tonnage in unit trains. Thus, an interruption in the operation of coal unit trains could significantly affect steel and electric power production.
In summary, (1) unit trains are signficantly more efficient in moving coal than other types of movements, (2) interruptions in the operation of coal unit trains could significantly interfere with steel production and coal-generated electric power, and (3) the technological efficiency of unit-train movements has increased relative to other types of movements since 1923. Thus, unlike the situation in 1923, if privately owned cars were removed from these relatively more efficient unit-train operations and placed in the pool of cars available for general distribution, the overall efficiency of coal movement from mines would decline substantially, the number of cars required to move the traffic would increase, and the overall effect would be detrimental to the public interest. These considerations provide further justification for our conclusion that competitive equality (proportionality) in the distribution of coal cars is no longer as important as it was at the time the Assigned Cars case was decided in determining whether coal car distribution is unduly preferential or prejudicial under section 3(1).
Concerning the third circumstance, a shortage of motive power and other basic facilities provided by railroads influenced the Commission's earlier finding that failure to count privately owned cars against the shipper in the allocation of the pool of available cars to coal mines constituted a violation of section 3(1). The availability of motive power and other facilities can affect the incentive to purchase private cars if there is doubt that a newly
See the example, Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America v. N. Y. C. R. Co., supra, involving reduced unit-train rates on bituminous steam coal.
This decision is not a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
By the Commission
ROBERT L. OSWALD.
1. Parties submitting statements containing factual matter in support of the B&O's petition (along with their intentions to participates.
Consolidation Coal Company.
2. Parties submitting statements in response to the notice concerning the L&N's petition:
Alabama Power Company, et al.
purchased private car can be moved. Furthermore, if there is not enough motive power to transport the existing car fleet, additions to the fleet should not be encouraged. There is no evidence in this proceeding of a chronic shortage in the current supply of motive power or other basic facilities.
In view of the foregoing, on this record, we conclude that the three circumstances which formed the basis for the earlier decisions are not here present, and that the failure to count privately owned cars moving in unit trains of coal from mines against the shipper in the allocation of the pool of available cars in times of car shortage does not violate section 3(1). However, with respect to the third circumstance, the availability of motive power, should a chronic shortage be shown to exist by proper evidence in particular cases, a different conclusion might be warranted.
Still disregarding section 1(12), we also must consider whether the relief sought as to privately owned coal cars moving in unit trains from mines would otherwise be just and reasonable under section 1 of the act. The changes in the technology of operating unit trains since 1923 and the need to encourage shipper-owned additions to the total pool of available cars, as previously discussed, are sound bases for finding that the relief sought by the petitioners would be in the public interest. We find, therefore, that exempting privately owned cars moving in unit trains from coal mines from the pro rata distribution requirements established in the Assigned Cars case would be just and reasonable under section 1.
However, although the relief sought with respect to privately owned cars would not be unduly prejudicial and preferential under section 3(1) and would not otherwise be unjust and unreasonable under section 1, we must conclude that it would violate section 1(12) of the act. Section 1(12)' specifically provides that the distribution of coal cars must be just and reasonable and that in times of car shortage the carriers must rate each mine and “count each and every car furnished to or used by any such mine for transportation of coal against the mine.” That section contains no
'It shall also be the duty of every carrier by railroad to make just and reasonable distribution of cars for transportation of coal among the coal mines served by it, whether located upon its line or lines or customarily dependent upon it for car supply. During any period when the supply of cars available for such service does not equal the requirements of such mines it shall be 'the duty of the carrier to maintain and apply just and reasonable ratings of such mines and to count each and every car furnished to or used by any such mine for transportation of coal against the mine. Failure or refusal so to do shall be unlawful, and in respect of each car not so counted shall be deemed a separate offense, and the carrier, receiver, or operating trustee so failing or refusing shall forfeit to the United States the sum of $100 for each offense, which may be recovered in a civil action brought by the United States.