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trains were operated at a cost of not less than $1.25 per mile, while the revenue per mile would be as low as 10 cents, and in ather, instances from 25 cents to 50 cents per mile. Numbers of other trains continued to show a deficit for each week operated. In cases of this kind the Commission discontinued only such trains as in its opinion could be suspended without any great inconvenience to the public. The Commission has endeavored to maintain a sufficient number of passenger trains on all roads to furnish the public with proper transportation facilities. Many of these are being operated at this time at a loss. Traffic, both passenger and freight, has fallen off in South Carolina very much since September 15th. This state of affairs the Commission realizes is due to some extent to the low price of cotton and other agricultural products now prevailing in this State. When traffic begins to move again a sufficient number of trains will be put into service to properly care for same.
Since September 1st considerable improvement has been made by the trunk line railroads in their roadbeds, bridges and trestles, and the motive power has been placed in much better shape, and no complaint of shortage of this class of equipment is existing at present. The carriers have also repaired and put into service, since date above mentioned, many hundred bad-order box and open-top cars. At this time no shortage of equipment exists in this territory. However, due to the Interstate Commerce Commission's orders, during the vegetable season of this year and until October 1st, there was a serious shortage of all kinds of equipment in the Southeastern district, of which South Carolina is a part. This Commission labored diligently, in and out of season, until such conditions in South Carolina were relieved. Expense of operation, outside of wages (over which neither the carriers nor this Commission has any controlling power) has been reduced as rapidly as in the opinion of the Commission is possible. The reduction in price of fuel and material necessary in construction and maintenance of railroad properties has also aided in the way of saving expense for the carriers. At this time the carriers find themselves with their service and force reduced apparently near the minimum, though ample to handle such traffic as is moving at present.
The short line railroads in South Carolina are still experiencing a struggle to exist. In some instances they are unable to render such service as the Commission desires for the patrons whom they are expected to serve. However, in every instance the Commission is demanding all the service, and in some respects possibly more that the traffic will justify. What the outcome eventually will be with these short line railroads can hardly be foreseen at this time. The Orangeburg Railway has entirely ceased to function since our last report to your honorable body. The Interstate Commerce Commission has been requested to grant permission for this road to be discontinued and the track torn up and removed. This is a serious state of affairs for the State of South Carolina, and especially for the people who have heretofore been served by roads of this kind, without which such communities will be denied railroad service. The Commission has used every effort, by granting increase in rates, reducing service, etc., that it possibly could, to maintain the properties, and we hope that a sufficient amount of traffic will be tendered these short line railroads to warrant their continuance as common carriers. Passenger traffic on short line railroads, as is well known, in this day of motor vehicles, is almost nothing at all, some roads averaging not more than three or four passengers a trip, which in itself makes it impossible to maintain even a reasonable passenger service. Experience from actual trial of motor service on the roads of this State has so far proven a failure, and as these roads have nothing else to sell except service, when it develops that such service is not used by the public it presents a very perplexing problem for the Commission and the carriers to handle to the satisfaction of all parties at interest. Since the return of the trunk lines to their owners, the Commission has been trying its best to have, where possible, routing of freight made with the short lines, with the hope of bringing a sufficient amount of revenue to at least render service that would handle the heavy freight traffic, regardless of what the passenger traffic might be. Some success has been obtained along this line, and our hope is that future developments will better the condition of the short line railways. If progress and prosperity is to continue the public utilities must be kept in such shape as to be able to perform their part, and the Commission knows of no more favorable asset to a community in South Carolina than the short line railroads. Without these, the rural and agricultural districts must without question suffer. The Commission has experienced great difficulty, in some instances, in getting the public generally to understand the exact condition of the short line railroads. Often ser
vice is demanded which if granted would bankrupt the roads, or would mean the dismantling and removing of same. In each of these instances the Commission has proceeded in a way that would be fair and reasonable to all parties at interest, especially keeping in mind that the loss of a railroad to a community affects the citizens thereof equally as much, and in many instances more, than the company itself would be affected; and to operate trains over any line of railroad when there is not sufficient traffic to warrant such operation, means that eventually the property will be liquidated and the road will be forced into the position of being unable to function at all. Instead of discontinuing railroads in South Carolina, the Commission hopes that conditions will be such as to encourage the additional construction of railroads as there are many places in the State where the construction of additional railroads would most assuredly aid in developing communities that are now far from what they should be.
During this year the Commission has experienced a great deal of trouble in securing the prompt movement of freight. This to a great extent was due, not to the carriers operating in this State, but to embargoes placed on many commodities to be delivered to roads outside of the State, which on account of such embargoes were unable to accept freight from the carriers in this State. This necessarily forced the carriers to place embargoes inside of the State. We are pleased to report, however, that at this writing those matters have all been practically clarified and freight is now moving as rapidly as possible and the service is almost as good as it was prior to the war. We desire to say that patrons of the railroads in South Carolina have been very responsive to the request of the Commission to promptly load and unload equipment, thus adding to same, which when a normal amount of traffic is moving always shows a shortage. The trunk line railroads have placed orders for a large number of box and open-top cars, motive power and passenger coaches. The short. line railroads have not done this for the very good reason that they have not the funds with which to purchase such equipment.
PHYSICAL CONDITION OF RAILROADS. Since our last report to your honorable body this class of railroad maintenance is one which possibly carries as much responsibility or more than any other coming under the jurisdiction of the Commission. Upon the proper maintenance of the physical
condition of the roadbed and equipment of the railroads depends the safety of human life and the prompt moving of traffic necessary to the welfare and prosperity of the people of South Carolina. As was outlined in our last annual report, during Federal control unfortunately conditions existed which made it impossible to maintain the roadbeds up to the standard; therefore, in order to protect human life, the Commission necessarily had to slow down all trains moving over same. We are pleased to report, however, that for the past six months great improvement has been made to the roadbed and equipment, so much so that the Commission, as well as the carriers, feel safe in shortening a number of schedules that have been in use in South Carolina for the past two years. Just as fast as the roadbeds are brought up to the standard schedules will again be brought up to such point as the Commission thinks is safe for those using trains. However, the Commission has given due consideration to this specific part of transportation and in some instances does not feel that it is yet time to greatly increase the speed of passenger trains, but the public can rest assured that the Commission will not increase any schedule at the hazard of human life, or at the cost of loss of property which in the end must be borne by the public. The Commission's judgment along this line has evidently been clearly vindicated by the small loss of life and property due to railroad wrecks in this State. While quite a number of slight derailments, due in most instances to equipment moving interstate, have occurred, still the loss of life due to wrecks during 1920 has been the lowest of any year on record. The Commission appreciates this state of affairs and trusts that it will continue, all of which we feel the public generally will share with the Commission and the carriers.
As heretofore stated, rolling stock is being improved very rapidly and during the year 1921 the Commission feels that if the traffic improves (which we are satisfied it will do) all rolling stock will be again up to the standard, and that all new equipment purchased for passenger trains by trunk line railroads will be of the latest type steel coaches, which render protection to the public that it would not otherwise have.
SCHEDULES AND TRAIN SERVICE.
This is one of the most difficult problems that the Commission faces when it has to consider the requests of all parties concerned. On account of the lack of traffic which exists at present it has been absolutely necessary to discontinue certain train service in South Carolina, as to require the continuance of service when there is no traffic to be handled, either passenger or freight, means finally the discontinuance of all service. The Commission is fully alive to the necessities and at all times keeps itself in position to know what traffic is moving and can and does add service as required. The proposition of making satisfactory schedules for all parties served is next to impossible. Long runs leave the terminal too early to suit some of the traveling public and reach the opposite terminal too late to suit those living near that terminal. The very best that can be done is to work out schedules that will serve the greatest number, giving due consideration to making junctional point connections, which is almost next to impossible to be done in certain instances. Where short line railroads cross several trunk line railroads over which interstate trains operate, the Commission finds that in some instances it is impossible to have a train at one junctional point and be able to reach the next junctional point on another trunk line at one and the same time. However, we are pleased to state for your information that very few cases of this kind exist in South Carolina at present, and we are informed that South Carolina trains make more junctional point connections in proportion to the number of such points than possibly in 'adjoining States. The public may rest assured at all times the Commission will put in and maintain such schedules as will render the greatest service to the greatest number of people patronizing such service.
BRIDGES AND TRESTLES.
Continued improvement is shown in this specific branch of railroading in South Carolina. Few trestles are built at this time other than up-to-date creosoted-timber, ballast-deck trestles. This type of trestle is the latest known to modern railroading in structures of this kind, and has many advantages over the old open-deck trestle. The track has the same advantage on trestles of this kind that it has on natural soil where the surface can be kept uniform and the alignment as perfect as at any point on the