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The Economics Of Railroad Construction | by Walter Loring Webb, C.E.



In many cases, instead of merely substituting other data for that compiled about six years ago, the author thought it would be advisable, in order to make forcible conclusions, to give both sets of figures and point out the changes occurring in the last five or six years and their significance. He also added some tabular statements on various kinds of traffic, for instance, VIa, VI6, and VIc, the data for which were not available when the first edition was published and he believes that its value, presented as it is, in condensed figures, will be seen, and the average reader will thereby avoid the necessity of compiling these matters for himself.

TitleThe Economics Of Railroad Construction
AuthorWalter Loring Webb, C.E.
PublisherThe Scientific Press
Year1906
Copyright1906, Walter Loring Webb, C.E.
AmazonThe Economics Of Railroad Construction

By Walter Loring Webb, C.E.

Member American Society of Civil Engineers;

Member American Railway Engineering Association;

Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering {Railroad Engineering) in the University of Pennsylvania, 1893-1901; etc.

-Publisher's Note To Second Edition
In offering the second edition it may be stated that the bulk of the revision work was required because it was necessary to conform to the changes made a few years ago by the Interstate Commerce Commi...
-Introduction
Owing to the diversity of opinion existing among railroad men as to the proper scope of a book on railroad economics, a word of introduction is necessary. Railroad economics, in its broadest sense, co...
-Part I. Financial And Legal Elements Of The Problem. Chapter I. Railroad Statistics. 1. Mileage
A study of the growth of railroad mileage during a period of years will reveal many instructive features of railroad progress. In the following chapter will be given several tables of statistics showi...
-2. Capitalization
Deferring until Chapter III (Capitalization. 12. Stock) an analy sis of railway capital from the financial standpoint, it is instructive to note the total value of railway property and its relation to...
-5. Accidents
During the year ending June 30, 1904, the numbers reported as killed and injured were 10,046 and 84,155 respectively. This is an average of one person killed every 52 minutes and one person injured ev...
-Chapter II. The Organization Of Railroads. 7. Economic Justification Of Railroad Projects
Social economists and railroad capitalists are apt to consider the desirability of constructing the railroad from two different points of view. The social economist considers chiefly the effect of the...
-8. Basis Of Ownership Of Railroad Property
A railroad enterprise is fundamentally different from a large majority of industrial enterprises. A factory is usually built and equipped by means of money which is directly furnished by the promoters...
-10. General Railroad Laws
The earlier charters of roads usually began with a preamble reciting that there was a public necessity for the project. The general railroad laws follow this idea to the extent of requiring the promot...
-11. General Railroad Law Of The State Of New York
Some of the principal features of the general railroad law of the State of New York are quoted as a sample of one of the best and most equitable of such laws. The number of railroad incorporators may ...
-Chapter III. Capitalization. 12. Stock
The total railway capital of the roads of the country, as reported to the Interstate Commerce Commission for the year ending June 30, 1910, aggregated $18,417,132,238. This capitalization was at the a...
-14. Dividends On Stock
A very brief investigation of the records of railroad stock will show that it is a very precarious form of investment. It is unfortunately true that but very few roads which are old enough to have a h...
-16. Taxes
The item of taxes is usually included under fixed charges. For the year ending June 30, 1904, the total amount paid in taxes by the railroads of the United States amounted to $61,658,373. Of this amou...
-17. Small Margin Between Profit And Loss
The gross revenue received by a railroad is applied first to the payment of operating expenses. As an average for the whole United States this amounts to approximately 65%. From the remainder must be ...
-18. Variation In Dividends Due To Small Variations In Business Done
Assume that by changes in the alinement the business obtained has been increased or diminished 10%. Assume that the operating expenses are 67% of the gross receipts. Assume that the amount required fo...
-Chapter IV. The Valuation Of Railway Property. 21. Objects
There are several objects for which a valuation is placed on railway property. The method of making the valuation as well as the value arrived at is apt to depend very largely on the purpose for which...
-23. Cost-Of-Replacing-Property Method
There is a large class of people who think that a rad should be valued according to the cost of replacing the property at the present time, i.e., buying the right-of-way, constructing the road-b...
-24. Valuation Of Physical Properties And Franchise
In Michigan and Wisconsin the railroads of the State have all been valued by a corps of engineers, appointed by the State, who adopted a systematized method of making an actual valuation of the proper...
-26. Valuation By Capitalizing The Net Earnings
This method requires two steps: the determination of, first, the income to be capitalized, second, the rate of capitalization. The determination of the income to be capitalized is not very difficult, ...
-Legal Control. 27. The Subject Of The Legal Control Of Railroad Corporations
The Subject Of The Legal Control Of Railroad Corporations by the federal, State, and municipal governments is so very broad that several volumes would be required to adequately discuss even the presen...
-29. Direct Competition
A road that is already bankrupt is usually the one which most recklessly breaks established rates and starts a rate war. Such a road will enter the most reckless competition in order to obtain busines...
-31. Justification Of Special Commodity Rates
In the following chapter the methods of estimating the volume of traffic of a new railroad enterprise will be discussed. The discussion there chiefly concerns the methods of estimating the volume of t...
-Federal Control. 33. Origin
The authority for the control of railroads by the federal government is based not only on the principle of the governmental control of common carriers, but also on the provision of the Constitution ...
-35. Pooling
Unrestricted competition on competitive freight has proved very disastrous to railroad companies, especially when they have endeavored to prevent their business from slipping away from them by reducin...
-Chapter V. Estimation Of Volume Of Traffic. 39. Primary Considerations
The economic considerations underlying the building of railroads are now fundamentally different from those existing fifty or sixty years ago. In 1840 the number of miles of railroad in the United Sta...
-41. Estimate Of Earnings Per Mile Of Road
It is sometimes attempted to quickly estimate the probable earnings per mile of road by a comparison of the earnings per mile of existing roads which are similarly situated. The gross earnings per tra...
-42. Estimate Of Tributary Population
Having decided on some estimate for the receipts per head of tributary population, even if it is only for a preliminary and rough estimate, the next step is to determine the number of the tributary po...
-44. Actual Estimation Of The Sources Of Revenue
Practically the only accurate method of making any such computations is to study the entire territory which will be served by the road and estimate in detail the amount of business which will be obtai...
-45. Statistics Of Average Traffic
Statistics show that the proportion of the passenger revenue to the total earnings is roughly constant, and yet it varies considerably in the different groups. This is best shown in Table VI. Table...
-Conditions Which Affect Volume Of Traffic. 46. Proximity To Sources Of Traffic
It has elsewhere been emphasized that the most important general requirement of the locating engineer is that he shall so locate the road that it shall obtain the maximum business. Every other require...
-47. Estimation Of Effect Of Location Of Station At A Distance From The Business Center
So many factors enter into such a question that no exact solution is possible. The chief factor is the proportion of competitive business. On business where there is direct competition the road with ...
-Part II. Operating Elements Of The Problem. Chapter VI. Operating Expenses. 49. Classification Of Operating Expenses
The system developed by the United States Interstate Commission has been followed, so that the invaluable statistics published by them may be quoted and freely applied to illustrate general principles...
-Classification Of Operating Expenses. Part 2
Table VIII. Operating Expenses Per Train-Mile On Large And Small Roads (1904 And 1910) Mileage. Operating expenses per train-mile. Ratio expenses to earnings, per cent. ...
-Maintenance Of Way And Structures. 52. Items 2 To 5, Track Material
The relative cost of ballast, ties, rails and other track material, as shown by comparing either the gross amounts or the percentages in Table IX, is suggestive and instructive. The fact that ties cos...
-Maintenance Of Equipment. 56. Item 24. Superintendence Of Equipment
The item averages about two-thirds of one per cent and has so little fluctuation under ordinary conditions that it may almost be considered as a fixed charge. It includes those fixed charges in superi...
-Traffic. 61. Items 53 To 60
These items have exclusive reference to the work of securing business for the road and have no necessary relation to any questions which the locating engineer must answer. Transportation. 62. Item...
-66. Items 83 To 85. Water, Lubricants, And Other Supplies For Road Locomotives
These items aggregate about 1.3% of the operating expenses. There seems to be a slight tendency for the percentage to increase. Since the consumption of all these supplies will vary nearly as the engi...
-71. Other Items
All of the remaining items, as stated in Table IX, are of no concern to the locating engineer. They are either general expenses, such as the salaries of general officers, insurance or law expenses, or...
-73. Reliability Of Such Estimates
It may be argued that such calculations are utterly useless, because the data on which the computations are based are variable and to some extent non-computable, and therefore no dependence can be pla...
-Chapter VII. Motive Power. Economics Of The Locomotive. 74. Total Cost Of Power By The Use Of Locomotives
The total cost of motive power by the use of locomotives must be determined by a consideration of the first cost of the locomotive, the cost of maintaining it in condition for work, and the cost of op...
-75. Renewals Of Locomotives
If there were no variations in the types and the cost of locomotives, as built from year to year, it would be comparatively simple to charge the entire cost of renewals as operating expenses; but sinc...
-76. Repairs Of Locomotives
The term renewals of locomotives applies only to the literal substitution of a new locomotive for one which has been sent to the scrap-heap. Repairs are divided into two classes: general repairs and...
-77. Wages Of Road Enginemen
Enginemen and firemen are usually paid by the trip, a trip implying a distance of 100 miles. If a division happens to be somewhat less than 100 miles, it is usually considered to be 100 miles, and t...
-78. Fuel For Locomotives
It should not be forgotten that the cost of fuel per ton at the mine, or even the cost when delivered at the coaling-stations, is by no means the measure of the economy in fuel. The value of fuel per ...
-79. Water-Supply - Impurities
The desired qualities in the water-supply must be the first consideration. While in general it may be said that water which is suitable for drinking purposes is suitable for locomotive-boilers, even t...
-80. Methods Of Water Purification
One of the cheapest methods is to introduce a chemical directly into the tender-tanks. From here it passes to the boiler. Even this method is only suitable when the resulting precipitate will not caus...
-82. Lubricants For Road Locomotives
These are quoted for the whole United States at an average price of .306 c. per train-mile, but it should of course be remembered that this figure is only an average figure which will be increased or ...
-The Economics Of Heavy Locomotives. 84. The Problem Stated
A heavy locomotive costs considerably more than a light locomotive. A heavy locomotive costs more to operate, will burn more fuel, use up more water, lubricants, and other supplies. The heavier engine...
-86. Maintenance Of Way And Structures
In the first edition, the author followed the general argument of the late A. M. Wellington, who insisted that the expenses of track maintenance were more dependent on number of trains than on the gro...
-88. Transportation
Item 61 unaffected. Items 62 to 76, station and yard expenses, will be considerably affected because the number of trains is increased, even though the number of freight cars is identical. An average ...
-Transportation. Continued
As is indicated by Table VII and Fig. 6, the average cost per train-mile seems to be steadily increasing, while certain of the percentages of the items of cost seem to be regularly increasing (or dimi...
-Chapter VIII. Economics Of Car Construction
90. A very large part of the economy which has been accomplished in railroad transportation during recent years has been due to improvements in the construction of freight-cars. In this chapter we mus...
-93. Economics Of High-Capacity Cars
The following line of argument, showing the economy in heavy cars, is condensed from an elaborate presentation of the subject by Mr. Rodney Hitt, which was published in the Railroad Gazette, May 19, 1...
-94. Use Of Air Or Train-Brakes
It is needless, in this period of railroad history, to argue the value of air-brakes in the operation of trains. According to the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission for the year 1910, out of...
-97. Spring Draft-Gear
In Fig. 7 is shown an illustration of a spring draft-gear and the method of its attachment to the car-frame. This is the recommended practice as adopted by the Master Car-builders' Association at thei...
-Chapter IX. Track Economics
In this chapter will be discussed some of the items of the cost of track construction and maintenance, which are so large and important that they should be studied with great care, in order to discove...
-100. Rail Wear - Statistics
It is very difficult to obtain reliable figures regarding rail wear and especially of the rail wear on curves. Such figures as are obtainable are almost hopelessly contradictory. The author has corres...
-101. Rail-Wear Statistics On The Northern Pacific R.R
Some five-year tests have just been made on the Northern Pacific Railroad to determine the actual wear of rails under a measured amount of traffic. Apparently one object of the investigation was to de...
-102. Relation Of Rate Of Rail Wear To The Life-History Of The Rail
The figures obtained during the above-described tests of rails on the Northern Pacific Railroad afford some very instructive and apparently reliable data regarding the rate of rail wear in its relatio...
-103. Rail Wear On Curves
In Table XVII is given an analysis of the figures furnished for the rail wear on various curves of the Pacific division of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The method adopted was to determine the percen...
-Economics Of Ties. 104. Importance Of The Subject
The cost of rails is frequently the largest single item in the cost of constructing a railroad, the cost of the ties usually being less than one-half the cost of the rails. This familiar fact is apt t...
-106. The Actual Cost Of A Tie
The actual cost of a tie equals the total of several items, of which the first cost is but one item. It must be transported from the place of sale and delivery to the road to the place where it is to ...
-108. Comparative Value Of Cross-Ties Of Different Mate Rials
Through the courtesy of Mr. W. C. Cushing, Chief Engineer of Maintenance of Way, Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburg, S. W. System, the author is enabled to quote very largely from a paper published ...
-109. Economy Due To Form Of Tie
The standard practice in this country, especially in parts of it where rigid economy in the use of ties is not essential, is to use a tie with a rectangular cross-section. An attempt at economy has be...
-111. Use Of Screw-Spikes
The ordinary track-spikes are very largely responsible for the removal of ties, since they induce decay around the spike-hole even if the tie is not spike-killed by the frequent re-driving of spikes. ...
-Chapter X. Train Resistance. 113. Classification Of The Various Forms
The various resistances which must be overcome by the power of the locomotive may be classified as follows: (a) Resistance and losses internal to the locomotive, which include friction of the valve-g...
-115. Velocity Resistances. (A) Atmospheric
These consist of the head and tail resistances and the side resistance. The head and tail resistances are nearly constant for all trains of given velocity, varying but slightly with the varying cross-...
-116. Wheel Resistance. (A) Rolling Friction Of The Wheels
To determine experimentally the rolling friction of wheels, apart from all journal friction, is a very difficult matter and has never been satisfactorily accomplished. Another practical difficulty is ...
-117. Grade Resistance
The amount of this may be computed with mathematical exactness. Since the tractive resistances are computed separately, we merely have to compute the tendency of the wheels to roll down the grade, or ...
-118. Curve Resistance
It is exceedingly difficult to obtain experimental data showing the resistance in pounds per ton which is due to curvature. Mr. J. F. Aspinall, an English engineer, who has made many elaborate experim...
-120. Inertia Resistance
The two forms of train resistance, which, under some circumstances, are the greatest resistances to be overcome by the engine, are the grade and inertia resistances, and fortunately both of these resi...
-121. Train-Resistance Formulae
Train-resistance formulae are usually empirical and are based on one of two forms: in which R is the resistance per ton, f is a coefficient to be determined, V equals the velocity in miles per hour, a...
-123. Dynamometer Tests
Tests to obtain the resistance of trains are usually made by placing a dynamometer car between the locomotive and the body of the train. The coupler between the car and the locomotive includes a dyna...
-Chapter XI. Momentum Grades. 124. Velocity Head
When a train starts from rest and acquires its normal velocity, it overcomes not only the usual track resistances (and perhaps curve and grade resistances), but also performs work in accumulating a la...
-125. Practical Use Of Table XX
The previous demonstration has been made under the assumption, many times repeated, that the frictional resistances to the movement of the train are zero. The same law will hold if we may assume that ...
-126. Accuracy Of The Above Statement
The late A. M. Wellington, in giving a detailed solution of a problem substantially like the above, declared that he had taken velocity and dynamometer records in hundreds of cases of trains that were...
-Momentum Diagrams And Tonnage Ratings. 128. Tonnage Rating
The following demonstration is based very largely on the admirable paper by Mr. A. C. Dennis, M. Am. Soc. C. E., which has been previously referred to. The paper as originally presented is very much c...
-131. Acceleration Curves
If we divide the total tractive power by the gross rating tonnage, we will have the available power in pounds per ton. If we subtract from this the tractive resistances, including grade resistance and...
-132. Retardation Curves
When the train has succeeded in acquiring a high velocity on a favorable down grade and then strikes an up grade, it will be unable to maintain that high velocity, and its velocity will gradually decr...
-Part III. Physical Elements Of The Problem. Chapter XII. Distance. 135. Relation Of Distance To Rates And Expenses
Rates are usually based on distance traveled, on the apparent hypotheses that each additional mile of distance adds its proportional amount not only to the service rendered but also to the expense of ...
-Effect Of Distance On Operating Expenses. 138. Effect Of Changes In Distance On Maintenance Of Way
The items of maintenance of way are more nearly affected in proportion to the distance than any other group of items. In fact it will be easier to note the exceptions from a full 100% addition for all...
-139. Effect On Maintenance Of Equipment
The relation between an increase in length of fine and the expenses of Items 24, and 46 to 50 are quite indefinite. In some respects they would be unaffected by slight changes of distance, and yet it ...
-142. Item 82. Fuel
A surprisingly large percentage of the fuel consumed is not utilized in drawing a train along the road. A portion of this percentage is used in firing-up. A portion is wasted when the engine is standi...
-143. Items 83, 84, And 85. Minor Engine-Supplies
If water is obtained from municipal supplies and paid for at meter rates, then the cost will be strictly according to the consumption which will be nearly according to the number of engine-miles. Almo...
-150. Estimate Of Total Effect On Expenses Of Small Changes In Distance Measured In Feet; Also Estimate For Distances Measured In Miles
Collecting the above percentages for the various items we have Table XXIV, which shows that the average cost of operating a small additional distance will be about 33% of the average cost per unit dis...
-152. Method Of Division Of Through Rates Between The Roads On Which Through Traffic Is Carried
In theory through rates are divided between the roads run over in proportion to the mileage. Frequently there is an arbitrary deduction made from the gross amount received to pay for terminal charges...
-154. A Second Example Will Be Considered To Illustrate Another Phase
Suppose that the haul on the home road is 200 miles and that on the foreign road is 50 miles. In this case the home road will receive 200/(200+50) =80% of the through rate. Suppose that the home road ...
-156. General Conclusions Regarding A Change In Distance
(a) In all non-competitive business (local and through) the added distance is actually profitable. On some small roads practically all of the business is non-competitive. A considerable proportion of ...
-Chapter XIII. Curvature. 159. General Objections To Curvature
In the popular mind curvature is perhaps the most objectionable feature of railroad alinement. The popular mind readily perceives the curvature as a fact, when a grade which is more costly from an ope...
-161. Effect Of Curvature On Traffic
It is well known that the sharp curvature found on some of our east and west lines passing over the Allegheny Mountains has some effect in deterring travel from those lines. Women and children will gr...
-Effect Of Curvature On Operating Expenses. 163. Relation Of Radius Of Curvature And Of Degrees Of Central Angle To Operating Expenses
It does not need proof that the sharper the curvature the greater will be the tractive force required. The rail wear and also the general wear and tear on road-bed and track per foot of length will al...
-164. Effect Of Curvature On Maintenance Of Way
A very large proportion of the items of expense in a train-mile are absolutely unaffected by curvature. It will therefore simplify matters somewhat if we at once throw out all the unaffected items. Of...
-172. Effect Of Curvature On Conducting Transportation
An inspection of the items under this general heading will show us that we may at once throw out as unaffected all the items except those which concern engine-supplies for road engines, flagmen, and w...
-177. Numerical Illustration
In Fig. 31 is illustrated a case of a crooked line from which a considerable saving of curvature was made, although at a very large expenditure for earthwork, by eliminating the reverse curvature and ...
-Compensation For Curvature. 179. Reasons For Compensation
When curvature and grade are combined on a track, the effect of the curvature is to increase the total resistance. This increase may be sufficient to have a material effect on the operation of trains....
-180. The Proper Rate Of Compensation
This evidently is the rate of grade of which the resistance just equals the resistance due to the curve. Unfortunately for the simplicity of our calculations curve resistance is variable. It is greate...
-181. The Limitations Of Maximum Curvature
What is the maximum degree of the curvature which should be allowed on any road? Unquestionably there is no definite limit. If any limitation is made it depends on the general character of the country...
-Chapter XIV. Minor Grades. 182. Two Distinct Effects Of Grade
The effects of grade on train expenses are of two distinct kinds. One possible effect is very costly and should be limited even at considerable expenditure. The other is of comparatively little import...
-183. Basis Of The Cost Of Minor Grades
The basis of the computation of this least objectionable form of grade is as follows: The resistance to the movement of a train on a straight level track is variable, depending on the velocity, the nu...
-184. Meaning Of "Rise And Fall"
In the simplest case a rise and fall of so many feet means a rise from the starting-point to a summit and a return to the same level, as is shown in Fig. 34. For instance, in Fig. 34 (a) is indicated ...
-185. Classification Of Minor Grades
The additional cost of one foot of rise and fall is not altogether independent of the rate of grade. We can, however, divide grades into three groups, within which we may say that the cost of a foot o...
-Classification Of Minor Grades. Continued
187. Item 3. Renewals Of Ties The extra wear of ties on grades is considered by Wellington as being somewhat compensated by the improved drainage of the roadbed which is found on a track which is ...
-193. Numerical Illustration
Assume that the grade of a railroad in crossing a river valley includes a sag 5000 feet long and with a depth in the center of 40 feet. Assume that freight-trains would ordinarily approach this sag at...
-Chapter XV. Ruling Grades. 194. Definition
Ruling grades are those which limit the weight or length of a train of cars which may be hauled by one engine. They are frequently, although not necessarily, the steepest grades on the road. It is som...
-195. Choice Of Ruling Grade
A little consideration regarding the practical operation of trains will show that it is impracticable for an engine to drop off or pick up cars in accordance with the grades which may be encountered a...
-196. Maximum Train-Load On Any Grade
The tractive power of a locomotive, and especially the reduction of the effective tractive power with increase in velocity, has already been discussed in previous chapters. It is expected that on ruli...
-198. Financial Value Of Increasing The Train-Load
The gross receipts obtained for transporting a given amount of freight is a definite sum which is independent of the number of train-loads required to handle it. On the other hand, the cost of a train...
-199. Maintenance Of Equipment
The effect on maintenance of equipment will be practically confined to the repairs, renewals and depreciation of steam locomotives (Items 25 to 27) and the same items for freight cars (Items 34 to 36)...
-200. Conducting Transportation
Items 61-79, chiefly yardwork, will be practically unaffected. Items 80 and 81 will be given their full value. The additional cost for the fuel for the added engine may be computed somewhat on the sam...
-201. Numerical Illustration
As a practical illustration of the figures in Table XXIX assume that the ruling grade on a given line is 1.4% (73.92 feet per mile). Assume that only 8 trains per day out of a total of 20 trains of al...
-Chapter XVI. Pusher Grades. 202. General Principles Underlying The Use Of Pusher-Engines
Whenever a road is laid out merely with the idea of passing through certain predetermined points and constructing the road as cheaply as possible, the usual result is that there will be a great variet...
-204. Equating Through Grades And Pusher Grades
The above problem was purposely chosen with figures in which the pusher grade and the through grade were exactly balanced or equated. When it has once been decided that pusher grades should be used, t...
-205. Method Of Operation Of Pusher Grades
Much of the economy in the operation of pusher grades depends on the method of operation, which in turn depends on the method of their construction. When it is decided that pusher grades are necessary...
-206. Length Of A Pusher Grade
The actual mileage traveled by pusher-engines for each train assisted must be something in excess of twice the distance between the sidings at the top and bottom of the grade. Usually a telegraphic st...
-208. Numerical Illustrations Of The Cost Of Pusher Service
In 204 we found that a through grade corresponding to a 1.9% pusher grade was 0.99%, or, in other words, that two engines of equal capacity could handle on a 1.9% grade a train which could be h...
-Chapter XVII. Balancing Grades For Unequal Traffic. 209. Nature Of The Subject
In the preceding chapters it has been tacitly implied that the extent of the traffic in the two directions is equal, and that it is just as desirable to obtain a low grade in one direction as in the o...
-212. Numerical Illustration
Assuming the same figures already considered in 129, we will consider that the grade against the heaviest traffic and for fully loaded trains is 1%. The grade and tractive resistance for a rati...









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