From the Belmont Dispatch, September 9, 1910.
Transcribed by Karen Meisenheimer.
ERIE IS FORGING AHEAD
Noted Writer says One must have Profound Respect for What Erie Men have Accomplished
A railroad that serves its patrons well gives the passengers safe transportation and keeps freight from standing in yards and does many unusual traffic things, always attracts attention. Just now, by reason of a splendid earning statement, the Erie is being rather favorable discussed in banking circles. Foreknowledge of what was [doing?] and a desire to substantive some statements relative to superior service and excellent physical condition led Charles F. Speare the financial writer and railroad expert of the the New York Evening Mail to make a personal inspection over the line.
Mr. Speare is no novice at practical railroad inspections and having made many of them is in a position in institute comparisons. His findings and conclusions are published in a pamphlet and he found the Erie to be a very much better railroad than most people think it is. He says in part:
There are two Eries: the financial Erie and the physical Erie. The first is understood and deplored. It is an incubus on every member of the operating staff from the president down to the lowest track worker. Stockholders sigh over it. The second is not appreciated and is so confused with and enveloped in the first that only a small minority will credit it at its full value.
It is essential that one see the Erie at work and study its problems and the manner of meeting them before drawing final conclusions about its destiny from annual report analyses.
From the physical standpoint the Erie is an interesting study. One may even grow enthusiastic over it at certain points. To be sure, the financial cloud by which the company is surrounded has a way of always floating across Erie skies when they seem to be brightest, emphasizing its poverty and limitations. My personal belief is that the Erie cannot escape ultimate reorganization, nor ought to try to.
On the other hand, one cannot but have a profound respect for what Erie men have made of their road with so little to work with and with the perpetual necessity for stripping every bone clean to the marrow.
This series of articles on the Erie has primarily to do with the physical and operating aspects of the rad. It is in this quarter that new methods have been introduced in recent years and by them the stigma of a long period of inefficiency resulting in poor service, removed The Erie like the Baltimore and Ohio in the reorganization days, has been looked upon as comic railroad proposition by commuters in and out of New York who have measured all other parts of the property by the few miles they have seen of it. Granting that service in the suburban zone was bad for many years and the quality of equipment on [???] equal plane when have to accept the Public Service records over the past year which show a smaller percentage of delayed trains on this road than on any other. [???] the Jersey City Terminal in June the Erie operated 285 fast freights and but four of these failed to make connections or reach terminals on time. This is nearly a perfect record in this class of efficiency.
Efficiency on the Erie is the result of necessity. If the Erie were wealthy like some of its competitors it, too, would probably be wasting money, just as they are in expensive terminals, stations, overmaintenance and in the numerous ways that waste is absorbed where credit is good and new capital can easily be raised. My personal belief is that this waste nearly always equals the gain that is to be had from ability to adopt methods tending toward economy. The Erie has as loyal a body of men as is to be found in the East, and men who are today very proud of the results which they are helping to produce. This quality is everywhere apparent out on the road. It is one of the best [???] the Erie management [???] It saves many dollars for net earnings by preventing waste in [???], [delays?] and in use of material and starts a whole lot of new revenue in the direction of the company’s treasury.
Last February and March, when the New York Central and Pennsylvania were badly blocked in the middle West owing to heavy snow storms, and later, floods, the Erie took their business and moved it in the one month its loaded cars increased 5 per cent, in the others 16 per cent. This was a test of efficiency. Primarily the engines of the Erie were in better condition then to stand the strain of bad weather than were those of its competitors. The most powerful Mallet engines ever built and found on the Erie hauling coal trains up the hills at Port Jervis and Susquehanna. By mens of the Guymard and the Genesee cut-offs, the Erie has the lowest potential and about the lowest actual grades across the state. By the use of them it has been able to increase its trainloads, at particular points: from 40 to 85 per cent, and to cut its expenditures on half. To do this has involved the outlay, in the last four years, of about $15,000,000 and the addition of seventy-five miles of new line, and average of $200,000 per mile, with individual miles costing from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
The physical condition of the Erie bears, in all essential matters, evidence of careful and ample maintenance. There is no waste exhibited except where due lack of funds for providing agencies for economy. This applies particularly to the shops of the company, which have still to be reinforced in numbers [??? ??? ???] results can be obtained. In the past few years several million dollars have been expended in increasing shop facilities. But they are still inadequate. The roadbed is strong, with a large proportion of rock ballast on the four track and double track divisions, 100 pound and 90 pound rail, steel bridges and more solid overhead crossings on the new lines than one sees in a long journey.
That the Erie has not neglected its physical body is shown in the comparisons below, which give its three year average of maintenance of way and maintenance of equipment and that of the four roads whose statistics have been used to suggest proper Erie perspective.
Erie, M W per mile $2,200 M E per mile $4,330 Total $6,630. Lehigh Valley 2,300 4,000 total 6,400. New York Central, 3,000 3770 total 6,770. Lackawanna 5,770 4,920 total 16,690. Delaware and Hudson 1,820 2,600 total 4,420
From these figures, covering the years 1907, 1908, and 1909, it will be seen that the Erie has been putting into its road, bridges and buildings as much per mile, approximately, as the Lehigh Valley, 20 per cent more than the Delaware and Hudson, and if the Erie were to be taken into consideration the per mile allowance on both roads would be about equal. The Erie has no pretentious stations or station grounds , it is not overgenerous with paint on its buildings or with its facilities for section labor. Every dollar of expenditure has to check up into an efficiency result There are none to spare for decorations.
The unit of greatest importance on a railroad is the locomotive. What it does in the way of yearly mileage, the number of failures that it records and the cost of repairs to keep it in condition and for fuel and labor to run it, are the best efficiency measures obtainable.
The engines of the Erie, and this statement is made after a recent careful inspection of the Lehigh Valley and daily observations of the power of the Reading and Central of New Jersey are a thoroughly businesslike looking and acting lot. A majority of those is in the freight service are 100 ton to 110 ton capacity, with exception of the Mallets, which are twice as large.