Condition of the Railroads

Archive Report

Railroads' Declining Role in Transport System

Sharp declines in prices of leading railroad stocks in December—declines which carried the Dow-Jones rail average down to the lowest point touched since January 1954—reflected the weakening confidence of the investment world in the future of the American railroad industry.1 Rising costs, losses in freight and passenger traffic, and falling rail earnings had prompted the Senate Commerce Committee a month earlier to order hearings on what Chairman Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.) called “the deteriorating railroad situation.”

The Senate hearings, scheduled to open Jan. 13, will be conducted by a subcommittee headed by Sen. George Smathers (D-Fla.). Smathers has staked out three broad areas for study: (1) Steps that can be taken by the railroads themselves to improve their condition; (2) desirable ...

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