Article: Increased Switching Charges at Detroit


OPINION. By HANDY, Commissioner.


This case is before the Commission on account of respondents, the Michigan Central Railroad Company and the The New York Central Railroad Company, having filed certain schedules which were to become effective on July 5th, 1923, and which proposed to make certain changes and reductions in the switching charges at Detroit, Michigan.

Protests from certain interests representing the industrial business of Detroit were received and we suspended the effectiveness of the proposed changes for the statutory period. Similar protests were made to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and that body suspended the proposed schedules with respect interstate and foreign commerce.

The issues involved were heard jointly before this Commission and an Examiner of the Interstate Commerce Commission. An Examiner's report was filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission and exceptions to such report were filed by interested parties.

We sat with members of the Interstate Commerce Commission at oral argument at Washington, DC. Several other carriers entering Detroit protested and opposed the proposed increases insofar as the reciprocal switching charges were concerned. One carrier appeared but made no protest, while another carrier indicated that it would continue to absorb such charges as were found proper.

The City of Detroit has had a very rapid growth since 1910, which is evidenced by the fact that its area and population nearly doubled by the year 1920. The terminals at Detroit are very extensive and the terminal operations of the Michigan Central are greater than any other carrier serving this terminal.

The Michigan Central switching district not only embraces the City of Detroit, but includes the Villages of River Rouge, Ecorse, Springwells, Highland Park, Hamtramck and North Detroit. The average switch haul is approximately eight (8) miles.

The Michigan Central has four (4) divisions entering Detroit and there are a number of receiving, forwarding and classification yards within the terminal, the principal ones being at the point known as “Junction Yards”. The terminal switching at Detroit is materially aided by additional classification yards at Niles, Bay City, Toledo and Windsor. The terminal of the New York Central is comparatively small in comparison with the Michigan Central terminal. It has two (2) principal yards at Detroit.

The Michigan Central has, by far, the greater number of industries located on its terminal at Detroit, there being about 650 out of a total number approximating 1100 or 1200. It is stated by respondent, the Michigan Central, that its facilities within the Detroit switching districts are adequate to take care of present needs and always have been.

Many very difficult terminal operations are necessary in order for respondents to originate and deliver their traffic at Detroit, because of various kinds of interference and the layout of the terminal. The various switching movements are designated in general as intra terminal, inter terminal, road haul and intermediate, for which specific switching charges are named.

The proposed charges of both respondents are substantially the same. Respondents propose to change their charges as presently applied from a per-car basis and place their charges for switching movements on all commodities on a per-ton basis, except that it is proposed to make a flat rate of Five Dollars ($5.00) per car for intermediate switching.

Without showing a detailed analysis of respondents’ proposed rates, in general, the proposed charges are Two Cents (2c) per hundred pounds, with a minimum of 60,000 pounds on industrial road haul and industrial inter terminal traffic; Two and One-Half Cents (2%c) per hundred pounds on team track road haul and industrial intra terminal traffic; and Three Cents (3c) per hundred pounds for all team track and other intra terminal switching, with the exception of coal, coke, sand, gravel, stone, slag, burnt or refuse foundry sand or dirt, which in each instance a rate of One-Half Cent (1%.c) per hundred pounds less than those mentioned is provided.

There is also a special provision made for the movement of livestock within the terminal and for which a charge of Three and One-Half Cents (31%.c) per hundred pounds is proposed between the stock yards and certain terminal points.

For the movement of passenger, express and mail equipment charges of Twelve Dollars ($12.00), Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) and Eighteen Dollars ($18.00) are proposed.

Respondents submitted a large amount of evidence dealing with the growth of the Detroit terminals. Many rate exhibits were presented comparing the proposed charges with the present charges at other large terminals, and witnesses for respondents offered evidence regarding the operation of such terminals by having previously made an inspection trip especially for this case.

A very detailed cost study was submitted on behalf the Michigan Central and a brief but definite cost study was submitted by the New York Central, and witnesses for both respondents explained with much detail the cost studies as presented. Protestants offered very little evidence and made no attempt to offer any other cost studies, but confined themselves to extensive cross exami nation of respondents' witnesses, especially insofar as the cost studies were concerned.

Some testimony was offered by certain shippers who objected to any increase insofar as intra terminal charges were concerned, and as indicated above, certain other carriers entering Detroit objected to the proposed increases in road haul switching charges. As hereinbefore stated, respondents have maintained their switching charges upon a per-car basis for many years, except insofar as the movement of sand, gravel, crushed stone, iron ore and slag is concerned, these commodities having for a number of years been upon a per-ton basis on intra terminal and inter terminal traffic.

This exception was brought about by decision of this Commission and its predecessor, the Michigan Railroad Commission, in order to equalize the rates for the movement of ex-river sand, gravel and crushed stone in Detroit with the rates applying to the movement of those commodities from points within a given zone outside of Detroit. We have conferred with the Interstate Commerce Commission and such joint conferences have resulted in the disposition of the case herein made, it being the object of this Commission to have the same charges applicable on intrastate traffic as on interstate traffic.

After considering all of the evidence and record, we find that the proposed charges for intermediate, passenger and express, and special live stock movements have been justified; that the proposed cancellation of the Michigan Central charges for intermediate switching in connection with the Detroit Manufacturers Railroad has not been justified; that the proposed intra and inter terminal charges on sand, gravel, crushed stone and slag have not been justified; and that the proposed charges on other traffic have not been justified, but that the following charges on such traffic have been justified:

$16.00 per car for intra terminal switching, $12.00 per car for inter terminal switching, and $ 7.00 per car for reciprocal switching.

In accordance with the findings herein, an order will be issued requiring respondents to cancel their proposed schedules as to intrastate traffic, without prejudice, however, to the filing of tariffs embodying charges as herein found justified.

Dated at Lansing, Michigan, this 9th day of July, A. D. 1924.