National Geographic : 1937 Dec
DON'T SET THE BRAKES Twenty years ago the United States govern ment took over the American railroads as a war measure-and gave them back to their owners in 1920-on the eve of a depression. Facing railroad men and management were such tough problems as these: They had to find ways to meet greatly in creased operating costs with lagging revenues. They had to repair and replace war-worn equipment. They had to meet new forms of competition. And they had to operate under rules, regula tions and restrictions more complex and be wildering than those imposed on any other business in America. But the railroads made the grade! Great new locomotives were developed freight today moves 50% faster than in 1922. Curves were straightened-stronger bridges built-thousands of miles of heavier rails laid to make safe speed possible. Safety has steadily advanced. Today the American railroads deliver the finest railroad service in the world-with the lowest rail freight rates in the world-23 /2 % lower than the peak of 1921, shortly after government operation was ended. And with all this, they pay the 0^^^ Highest railroad wages in the world. Meanwhile the mountain of regulation S has piled steadily higher-under state law as well as federal. An immediate threat is the TRAIN LIMIT-BILL -a bill to limit the length of freight trains-to force the railroads to run un necessary trains-under the pretext of safety. In face of the fact that the American railroads have reduced accidents to employes by 75% in the same years in which they developed longer and faster trains for better service In face of the fact that the more trains run the greater the chances of accident, especially at grade crossings In face of the fact that this one law would add more each year to the cost of railroad opera tion than the total cost of all air conditioning of trains to date -this bill has alreadypassed the Senate. The harm of this legislation is measured in more than money-cost, great as that will be. It wipes out the major benefits of the improve ments the railroads have made-but more im portant still it stymies progress, and ham strings future initiative, enterprise and inven tion. Do you want the advancement of the nation's basic transportation system brought to a standstill? If not-it's up to you! Don't set the brakes on railroadprogress! WAsHINToN, D. c. "Mention the Geographic-It identifies you."