However motor carriers often have lower minimum weights than railroads, and the trucks are able to make more flexible rate adjustments.
The motor carriers also have other freedoms. They accept shipments at any point within a plant and make deliveries where ever directed. This greatly reduces the handling of materials for an industry. In addition, trucks load from the tail gate into the truck and unload from the truck body to the consignee's platform, while with carload shipments by rail, the shipper must load and unload his own traffic.
Allocation Program Diverted Traffic
During World War II, the allocation of some commodities indirectly diverted a considerable volume of high grade freight from the railroads. Practically all materials were in short supply, and consignees were glad to get whatever quantities they could. As a rule, it was easier to obtain a truck load than a full carload, and consequently the motor carriers got the business.
Similar circumstances today are working to the trucks' advantage. Materials are plentiful, but the economy has shifted to the point where the shipper is carrying heavy inventories, and the buyer is ordering in small units on the lowest delivered cost basis. Where there is a combination of a rate and minimum weight advantage in favor of the trucks, the motor carriers naturally are preferred. Also where the rate is the same and the minimum weight is lower on the trucks, in most instances, the motor carriers will get the business.
Transporting truck trailers on flat cars is the best means by which the railroads can offer a competitive service. We have the facilities to handle additional traffic; and the highway trailer, at present at least, is the best adapted vehicle to handle this traffic and meet the advantages that motor carriers now offer to the public.
Trailer Used As Over-all Container
Viewed in a broad manner, our piggy-back service simply provides rates for quantity lots that include pick-up and delivery service. The truck trailer is used as an over-all container for transporting commodities by railroad from origins to destinations.
Our Road has installed loading and unloading ramps at Calumet, Ill., and at the Broadway freight house in Cleveland. We have purchased truck trailers, supplied special attachments, equipped flat cars and have revised and improved our train schedules.
Entirely A Railroad Service
Our service is entirely a railroad service. The freight is received on a Nickel Plate bill of lading at the place where the trailer is loaded. The trailer is then hauled by a leased truck-tractor to the loading ramp where it is placed and secured on a flat car and then dispatched on a high speed freight train. At destination the trailer is quickly unloaded and hauled to the consignee's delivery platform. The shipment remains completely within the control of the Nickel Plate or its connections until the freight is accepted. Our Road maintains direct contact with the shippers and consignees and has a voice in establishing rates and the nature or quantities of commodities to he handled.
Piggy-back is an important service by which we can win back traffic from one of our subsidized competitors. It's a challenge to all of us to sell it, to service it, and to make it work.
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