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OFFICE OF THE BOARD OF RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS,
January 10, 1887.
Chapter 353, Laws of 1882, requires the Board of Railroad Commissioners to report to the Legislature on or before the second Monday in January. Agreeably to the requirements of said law, the Board submits its Fourth Annual Report.
GENERAL SITUATION. The year ending September 30, 1886, may be recorded as one of fairly profitable business for the railroads of the State. At the close of the fiscal year covered by the last annual report the business depression of railroads had about reached its lowest point. The tide then turned and has been steadily rising since, keeping on a level with the general commercial activity throughout the country.
The important events in the railroad world which took place in the autumn of 1885, namely, the formation of another trunk line traffic agreement and the leasing of the West Shore by the New York Central, were largely instrumental in bringing about these results so far as railroads are concerned. The facts and circumstances which finally led to those important transactions are given in full in the last two annual reports of the Board to which your attention is again directed.
The rates of grain from the interior to the seaboard have generally been maintained on the basis of from twenty to twenty-five cents per hundred pounds from Chicago to New York, thus giving to the transportation lines a fairly profitable business.
There was apprehension that the leasing of the West Shore by the New York Central would result in the imposition of oppressive freight rates upon the large portion of the State reached by these lines, but so far no complaints of excessive rates against these roads have been lodged with the Board. It is to be hoped that this condition of affairs will continue, and that sufficient business at mutually satisfactory rates will offer itself.
Perhaps the most important and significant fact of the year is the largely increased shipments by canal. This has been the result of two causes : 1st, the rise in price of transportation by rail, making water competition both possible and profitable, and, 2nd, the large increase in the quantity of grain shipped to the seaboard.
The trunk lines have carried but 152,297 tons of through freight during the season of navigation in excess of that carried last year, but the increased rates have made it profitable. The canals, however, have carried 5,293,982 tons as compared with 4,731,784 tons in 1885. The Welland canal has carried an increase of thirty-four per cent, a significant fact as affecting the commerce of the United States. Attention is further drawn to the fact that the Welland canal has a depth, at present, of twelve feet, which will be further increased, it is understood, to fourteen at the opening of navigation next year. The Erie canal has a depth of but seven.*
No better illustration is possible of the wisdom upon the part of the State of maintaining in efficient condition its waterways. The Board has taken occasion in each of its annual reports to comment upon this subject and again repeats from its Second Annual Report (p. XII) the following language: “Water competition is acknowledged by railroad managers to be the only competition that is uniform and effective in fixing rates of transportation for the commerce of the country. Not only does the canal system of this State regulate the carrying price over and through the State, but, in a large measure, it determines the price of the cereals of the west, from which are made up ninety per cent of the food consumption of the State. Therefore, whatever may be said for or against railroads competing with each other, there can be no question but that it is of vital interest to the people of the State to jealously guard our great waterways, which, by a constitutional amendment, have been made forever free, the cost of their maintenance being taxed upon the peo
* The figures relating to canal statistics have been kindly furnished by the Superin. tendent of Public Works.
SUMMARY OF BUSINESS FOR THE YEAR. The totals for all roads and the details for each are given with great particularity in the second volume of this report.
A few of the grand totals and most important final results are given here as follows:
1886. Gross earnings from operation of road
$125, 160, 289 48 $111, 632, 961 47 Operating expenses..
79, 260, 798 30 77, 175, 826 01 Net earnings from operation of road
45, 899, 491 18 34,457, 135 46. Income from other sources than operation of road.
4, 449, 391 66
6,244, 808 50 *Interest paid and accrued.
25,673, 372 99 24, 614,451 92 Taxes.....
4,645, 676 93 4,874, 334 55 *Dividends declared..
11, 178, 176 67 10, 455, 865 84 Surplus.
Deficit. Surplus or deficit.
4,658, 191 48 3,502, 337 771 Stock and debt.
1,224,772,611 291, 292,395, 622 44 Cost of road and equipment..
1, 138, 370, 470 55 1,175, 948, 966 05 Percentage of gross income to cost of road and equipment...
03.46 Percentage of net income to capital stock.
01.09 Percentage of dividends declared to capital stock.
01.60 Miles of road built in New York State.
7,311.40 Tons of freight carried one mile..
10, 640,849, 655 9, 902, 683, 295 Increase in 1866 of 07.46 per cent. Average freight earnings per ton per mile (cents).
0.73 Average freight expenses per ton per mile..
0.52 Average freight profit per ton per mile.
0.21 Passengers carried one mile (exclusive of elevated roads).... 1,830, 734, 634 1,834,580, 425
Decrease in 1886 of 00.21 per cent.
2.1 Average passenger expenses per passenger per mile (cents)...
1.3 Average passenger profit per passenger per mile (cents)
0.7 * Includes respectively interest and dividends paid by lessors from rentals received from lessees as follows:
$6,854, 278 18 $5,031, 909 98 Dividends..
3, 481, 812 17 3, 427, 453 34 + These items are materially reduced in 1886 in consequence of the reorganization of the West Shore R. R. Co., by which its stock and debt was reduced from $125,924,839.75 in 1885 to $60,000,000 in 1896, and its cost of road and equipment from $101,552,487.83 in 1885 to $60,000,000 in 1886.
This item would be somewhat larger in 1886 than in 1885, were it not that one company has failed to file its report this year.
REFERENCES AND COMPLAINTS. During the twelve months ending September 30, 1886, the Board has considered and disposed of twenty references by the Governor, the Legislature and committees thereof (as compared with five last year), and numerous complaints preferred by cities, towns, associations, individuals, etc. The determination in these matters is found in the appendix (P. 1 et seq.), to which reference is made for a full exposition thereof.
In its last annual report the Board expressed the expectation that the coinmittee of the United States Senate on inter-State commerce would recommend to Congress a measure providing for Federal supervision of that subject. It did so, but the bill failed to become a law. The matter is still left, therefore, in statu quo, and the subject is a constant source of embarrassment to this, as to other State Coinmissions. At the present writing the Board understands that a bill has been agreed upon by a conference committee of the House and Senate.
The Board has little to say as to this matter in addition to its previous expressions and to its recent decisions in the appendix of this volume to which your attention is drawn (see the views of the Board and its individual members, pages 218, 1st Ann. Report and 77, 136, 164, 198, of Vol. 1, 3rd Ann. Report, and page 131, of appendix).
A recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in the October Term, 1886, in the case of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company v. The People of the State of Illinois, again elaborately defines the relative jurisdiction of the State and Federal governments over commerce.
ACCIDENTS. The record of accidents shows an increase of ninety-two in the total number of persons killed, and of two in those injured as compared with 1885.
The following table gives the record of the accidents classified : First, as to their causes; second, as to whether beyond the control of the killed or injured, or in consequence of their misconduct or want of caution, for the years ending September 30, 1886 and 1885 :