Selected excerpts from:
This testimony deals with rates west and east of Clovis on the Santa Fe Railway. The excerpts were provided by John Moore.
Note: If you want to read a condensed version, including testimony directly applicable to the Southern California area, look for the sections displayed in bold font.
In addition to the increased operating expenses occasioned by double-head, deadhead and light locomotive and crew service, the seasonal character of the eastbound fruit and vegetable traffic requires the investment in and maintenance of facilities which can be utilized to capacity for only a relatively short period during the year. As illustrative of this problem, I can cite our typical experience in handling cars of eastbound perishables at Bakersfield, which is one of our principal concentration points for this traffic in California. In 1955 we provided protective service in the origination of perishables at an average of 2,855 cars a month at this facility, but the volume ranged from a low of 507 cars in January to a high of 11,583 cars in June. The situation is similar in the Salt River Valley area in Arizona, but the high and low periods differ. At Glendale, Arizona, we serviced an average of 1,752 cars of perishables a month in 1955, but the monthly volume ranged from 5 in September, and only 17 cars in August to 5,940 cars in November. We cannot maintain facilities which are adequate merely to accommodate the average volume of this traffic. Perishables must move when produced, and we must have facilities available for handling the peak when and where it occurs. This means establishing and maintaining extensive facilities for which there is little or no demand for considerable periods during a year.
Refrigerator car ownership is another example of investment in transportation facilities which must be geared to peak seasonal loadings of fruits and vegetables. Since January 1, 1953, our refrigerator car ownership has been in excess of 15,000 cars. Our loadings of perishables west of Belen, New Mexico in 1955 averaged about 6,420 cars per month, but the range was from a low of 2,168 in February to 17,033 in June. In other words, our refrigerator car ownership was more that double the average monthly demand, but not equal to the demand of the one-month peak.
The seasonal fluctuation of our eastbound traffic also requires us to provide and maintain locomotives in excess of our average requirements. In May and June, 1955, we restored to service 84 steam locomotives to assist in handling the peak seasonal loadings of fruits and vegetables. These locomotives were not needed during the other months of the year, but it was necessary to keep them in condition throughout the entire year and also incur substantial expense in restoring them to service for the brief period during which they were required.
The nature of the traffic involved in these cases is also responsible for several scheduling problems which add to the expense otherwise incurred. In general, our eastbound schedules from California and Arizona are established primarily to protect the transcontinental fruit and vegetable traffic and the type of service which those commodities require. We have four principal terminals at which perishable traffic is concentrated for eastbound movement. Bakersfield is the origin terminal for through schedules accommodating traffic originating in central and northern California; San Bernardino is the origin terminal for southern California; Blythe, California is the origin terminal for traffic from the Palo Verde Valley; and Glendale, Arizona is the origin for traffic originating in the Salt River Valley of Arizona. We advertise symbol trains from these origin terminals with guaranteed scheduled deliveries at Kansas City, Chicago and other eastern gateways. These schedules provide for sixth morning delivery at Chicago from California origins and fifth morning delivery from the Salt River Valley, all schedules being based upon a common cut-off time of not later that 11:59 p.m. at the loading station.
The volume of the perishable traffic and the gradient limitations on train tonnage require the operation each day during the shipping season of a number of sections of the advertised scheduled trains. To take care of schedule requirements during peak seasonal loading periods we have established 19 daily schedules at one-hour intervals from Bakersfield and San Bernardino to Kansas City. Each of the schedules provides for the same guaranteed delivery time at destination or interchange point. In effect, this means that the latest schedule is 19 hours faster the earliest schedule. ... During the month of July 1955, our Bakersfield symbol trains averaged 77 cars per train between Bakersfield and Barstow. In April 1956, our SRX trains from Glendale, Arizona averaged 69 cars per train between Glendale and Winslow. In March 1956, our PVX trains from the Palo Verde Valley averaged 69 cars per train between Blythe and Needles. ... Potash and copper ore movement in New Mexico ...
Other commodities originating on our line in Mountain-Pacific territory and presenting car supply problems include wine, sugar and canned and packaged food products. Almost all of these commodities move to destinations east of Clovis. In central California there are 17 wineries located on the Santa Fe at 4 mainline and 10 branch line stations. Except for one instance in which a switch engine is assigned at one station, the wineries are served by local way trains. In southern California 7 wineries are located at 4 branch line stations served by way trains. Wine is affected by both heat and cold and it is necessary to furnish refrigerator cars for this traffic. However, 95 per cent of shippers' orders for refrigerator cars for wine loading are for 50-foot cars because of the larger cubical capacity. The Santa Fe owns 500 50-foot refrigerator cars, but other demands for this equipment often require that we furnish 40-foot standard refrigerator cars equipped with collapsible bulkheads. The Santa Fe owns approximately 4,000 cars of this latter type, but whenever it is necessary to furnish these cars for wine loading, extra time and switching are involved in the selection of such cars and approximately 30 minutes are required on the part of a mechanic to adjust the bulkheads. ... Sugar in class A box cars ...
Food products require various types of specialized equipment. A very large percentage of the total shipments of food products, both frozen and not frozen, move to destinations and to connecting lines east of Clovis. Refrigerator cars are generally used for the loading of canned goods between October 15 and April 15, otherwise box cars. Since the damage payments on canned goods are high, it is necessary to select cars which have smooth floors and sides and square ends. Santa Fe has 300 refrigerator cars equipped with DF loading fixtures which are furnished, when available, for the loading of canned goods in order to reduce damage liability. Frozen foods must move either in mechanical refrigerator cars or in super-insulated refrigerator cars using ice and salt. As of June 1, 1956, the Santa Fe owned 181 mechanical cars with 50 on order, and 200 super-insulated refrigerators. Both types of cars and particularly the mechanical ones are expensive to build and to maintain, but the frozen commodities transported in them are of considerable value and cannot be handled satisfactorily without incurring this high investment and operating expense.
The operation problems involved in handling fresh fruits and vegetables eastbound fall into two main categories: First, the services performed in providing and distributing empty cars and second, the services performed in gathering and moving the loads....
As to the first category: It is characteristic of the eastbound movement of fruits and vegetables to have a high percentage of empty return of refrigerator cars to Arizona and California. Except for the use which may be made of the refrigerator cars for handling less-carload and carload dry freight under certain conditions, the empty return is 100 percent. For several years the Santa Fe has attempted to develop way and means of utilizing SFRD refrigerator cars for westbound loading to reduce empty car miles.
Three programs have been undertaken. One is the direct loading of refrigerator cars with less-carload freight at our Chicago and Kansas City freight houses. In 1954 we loaded 5,171 and 2,382 SFRD cars respectively at those two freight houses. We also provide by tariff that in certain specified situations two or three refrigerator cars may be furnished for one box car ordered, and one of our operating department representatives in the East has the specific duty of encouraging the use of this tariff privilege. However, our principal use of refrigerator cars for westbound loading is in connection with the transfer into two or more refrigerator cars of box car shipments moving under stop-in-transit tariff provisions. Ordinarily, the cars handling such shipments would be stopped at one or more points for partial unloading before reaching final destination. By the transloading operation we are able to place the freight for two or more destinations into separate cars and handle them independently to each billed destination. This transloading operation improves the service to the shipper and consignee by eliminating the delay that would otherwise be encountered in handling the original car via each of the stop-off-points.
We perform the transloading operation at Mahoney, Kansas, where special facilities are maintained for switching and platforming the stop-in-transit traffic. A study made of the transloading operation performed at Mahoney during the year 1954 showed a cost per ton of $2.70, or an average of $49.81 per inbound car, exclusive of the cost of switching to and from the transfer facility and of conditioning the cars. In 1954 we loaded 14,589 SFRD cars at Mahoney with carload traffic transferred from box cars. The results of our effort to reduce empty westbound refrigerator car movement are shown by the fact that in 1954 we handled 62,902 loaded SFRD refrigerator cars eastbound into Belen and in the same year moved west from Belen 43,107 empty SFRD cars and 20,221 loaded SFRD.
Ordinarily, refrigerator cars are returned to us via the junctions at which the cars were delivered to our connections under load. [This means they retrace their path in the return movement] However, from about March 1, to July 31 because of the peak seasonal loading in May June and July, we find it necessary to expedite the empty return movement of our cars from the East and Midwest by directing our connections to deliver them at any junction. This reduces the empty mileage on other railroads, principally our Midwestern connections, and increased the empty mileage on the Santa Fe.
Considerable extra and special service is accorded empty refrigerator cars both in moving them to Arizona and California and in handling them in those areas prior to loading. Periodically throughout the year and particularly during the peak loading months of June and July we move solid train loads of empty refrigerator cars from Chicago and Kansas City to Arizona and California. These empty refrigerator trains are operated as symbol trains and are given special and expedited service.
The operational problems encountered in distributing and furnishing empty refrigerator cars in the origin territory arise principally from the great amount of specialization which has developed over the years in the type of equipment which shippers require. A refrigerator car is commonly thought of as a single type of specialized equipment but actually there are many differences in refrigerator cars both with respect to size and dimension and with respect to equipment or other feature which result in our incurring tremendous amounts of switching and excess empty car miles in order to meet shippers' requirements. It is a practical impossibility to have the required type of car on hand at all times at every shipping point served. For example, citrus fruits require standard size SFRD cars with 9,000-pound bunker capacity. Approximately 70 per cent of the cars required for oranges must be fan-equipped. Dry and steel floor racks are required for fiberboard carton shipments, which is the type of container that has come into use in recent years in the shipment of perishables from California and Arizona. Certain other fruits, such as grapes, tree fruits, and melons, require fan-equipped cars, but the bunker capacity must be of 10,000-pound minimum. On the other hand, potatoes and onions do not in most instances require fan-equipped cars and do not require as high a bunker capacity. Concurrently, in June in central California we furnish cars for the loading of potatoes and onions along with plums, apricots, nectarines and other tree fruits. It is necessary to classify empty refrigerators as between non-fan cars for the majority of the potato and onion shipments and fan cars for the tree fruits, although some shippers of potatoes and onions also need fan cars. The same sort of problem is presented in central and northern California in the fall when non-fan refrigerator cars are furnished for shipment of vegetables, wine and canned goods and fan cars are ordered for grapes and oranges. Many of the grape shippers also require cars with steel floor racks and sliding doors, as do other shippers using fork lift trucks for loading.
In addition to the extra switching of empty cars in the vicinity of loading, the requirements of shippers for specified types of refrigerator cars create additional switching at many terminals and way stations east of the loading areas. For example, we assemble empty refrigerator cars and store them on sidings between Belen and Barstow. It is frequently necessary to switch out certain kinds of refrigerator cars from those stored in order to meet the demand for cars with fans and with sliding doors or without fans and with steel floor racks, etc. Periodically instructions are issued over the entire system as far east as Chicago and Kansas City to forward only fan cars; or to assemble the fan cars in train lost or blocks independent of non-fan cars. All these efforts to comply with the needs of the perishable shippers result in the performance of much extra switching and the accumulation of additional empty car miles. It is a typical operation for refrigerator cars with fans to be back-hauled from southern and central California to the Palo Verde Valley, Blythe, California and to the Salt River Valley, Phoenix, Arizona, during the shipping season of vacuum-cooled lettuce. These cars are often handled in special train movements and against the normal flow of westbound empty refrigerator cars of other types not suitable for the particular loading in question.
The seasonal loading of fruits and vegetables requires that thousands of refrigerator cars be conditioned and stored prior to the beginning of harvest in the various producing areas. For example, in May, 1954, which is just prior to the summer movement from the San Joaquin Valley of California, we had 6,200 refrigerator cars stored on the Valley Division. Of these 1,000 were stored at Shafter and Wasco, California, which are loading stations; 750 were stored at stations on the main line between Bakersfield and Fresno; 250 were stored on the main line at Riverbank; 150 were stored between Riverbank and Richmond; 550 were stored on the Alpaugh district; 125 on the Fresno Interurban District; 825 on the Visalia District; and 2,000 on the Porterville-Orosi District. The Alpaugh, Fresno Interurban, Visalia and Porterville-Orosi Districts are branch lines. The majority of these stored cars moved into Bakersfield empty from the East for cleaning at Bakersfield or Fresno and then moved to storage points for later pickup and movement to loading stations. This operation results in considerable cross handling of cars and in the accumulation of much excess empty car miles over and above the empty mileage involved in returning the cars from the East. In order to determine the extent of excess empty refrigerator car miles resulting from the storage of cars prior to seasonal movements, a check was conducted of the movement of 3,852 refrigerator cars stored on our valley Division in April and May 1955. These cars were conditioned at Bakersfield and Fresno and then moved to outlying points for storage. These cars were found to have moved an excess of 323,079 empty car miles, or an average of 84 miles per car over and above the empty mileage that would have been run if the cars could have moved direct from Bakersfield and Fresno to loading stations.
The foregoing section of my testimony deals with the general problem involved in assembling and making refrigerator cars available for distribution. I wish to deal now with some of the principal operating problems which we encounter for specific commodities and areas, and also the handling involved in the gathering of the loads and concentrating them into through trains for eastbound movement.
One of the principal characteristics of this traffic which causes operating problems and increases the cost of performing the gathering service is the seasonal nature of fruits and vegetables. For example, in the year 1955 we loaded 36,845 cars in central-northern California. 19,849 in southern California, 14,674 in the Salt River Valley and 5,119 in the Palo Verde Valley, or a total of 76,487. 35,487, or 46.4% of the total shipments, were loaded in the peak months of May, June and July. We also originate a movement of vegetables in the Grants-Blue water, New Mexico district during a relatively short growing season. In 1955 we originated in this area 12 cars in July, 8 cars in August, 255 cars in September, 236 cars in October, and 41 cars in November.
It is also a characteristic of the perishable traffic that it originates to a substantial extent on branch lines, and whether originating at main or branch line stations, is largely handled from origin points by way trains. This feature of the gathering service occasions considerable difficulty and expense not only because way train service is relatively more costly that through train service but because the origin territory covers a very extensive area and therefore presents serious schedule problems.
As I previously stated, all shipments loaded and billed at California stations by 11:59 p.m. are entitled to be handled on a schedule providing sixth morning delivery at Chicago. Bakersfield is the concentration point at which perishables originating in the central-northern California area are placed in through trains. Our schedule commitments require that shipments tendered prior to 11:59 p.m. be handled with sufficient expedition to arrive in Bakersfield for departure in through trains the day after loading. The gathering area for which Bakersfield is the concentration point extends as far north as San Francisco, a distance of 341 miles. In southern California the principal concentration point at which perishables are placed in through trains is San Bernardino. The gathering area served by San Bernardino extends as far as National City, a distance of 154 miles. Despite the wide extent of these origin areas, the same guaranteed schedules are maintained from all California points. Our service is this regard reflects the market competition placed by the producers of perishables.
The seasonal nature of the perishable traffic also occasions considerable extra train service. During the potato-shipping season it is necessary to assign four additional road switchers as Wasco, five at Shafter, two at Cawelo or Richgrove, California and five on the Arvin District. During the grape season it is necessary to establish two Bakersfield-Jovista turns and two additional turns between Fresno and Reedley. During the deciduous tree fruit movement, a Fresno-Visalia turn is established. During the orange shipping season a Porterville switch run and additional locals between Exeter and Bakersfield are established. Extra trains are, of course, operated as required. Since shipping seasons for these commodities in many instances overlap, while in other periods non of the commodities are being shipped, the need for providing the extra service requires us to maintain equipment which is idle during portions of the year.
AS is the case with local and way-train service generally, considerable overtime is incurred by the additional road switchers assigned to protect the fruit and vegetable movement. ...
The physical operation involved in gathering perishables are rather complex and require considerably more than the average switching. Practically all cars furnished for the loading of grapes and tree fruits, such as apricots, plums and nectarines, are pre-iced before movement to loading stations. Considerable time is required in the switching of empty refrigerators for pre-icing. Most of the refrigerators furnished for potato loading are dry cars, i.e. cars not containing ice in bunkers. However this practice with respect to the loading of this commodity is not uniform. In the 1955 shipping season we furnished 1,777 pre-iced cars for potato loading. Also certain states require that shipments be fumigated prior to entry. In the year 1955 we fumigated 1,439 carloads of potatoes. Cars for fumigation must be switched to a designated track for this service and then must subsequently be switched to the icing dock. While the railroad does not have to bear the cost of the fumigation, it does have to provide the necessary switching service. Celery is loaded in dry cars which are then body iced. During the winter months celery usually moves without bunker ice but in the spring and summer months bunker ice is required. Onions are usually loaded in dry cars. These various refrigeration requirements, which I have only briefly outlined, occasion considerable extra switching to and from ice docks and in classification of cars.
Two additional operations, which require considerable switching service, are the vacuum packing of lettuce, which is a relatively recent development, and the "gassing" of melons to condition them for market. I can illustrate these operations b reviewing briefly the service, which we perform in the Palo Verde Valley area. The principal loading point on our line in this are is Blythe, California, which is on a branch line 92 miles south of the junction with our main line at Cadiz. The only station originating traffic other than perishables between Cadiz and Blythe is Midland, California, about 24 miles north of Blythe, which is the location of the plant of the U. S. Gypsum Company. This is an arid area and perishables can be grown there only by irrigation from the Colorado River. Because of the lack of water in the area, we haul water from Blythe for the Gypsum Company at Midland and for our agents and section crews. Thirty tank cars are assigned to this service which is operated daily on a shuttle basis. Except during the heavy perishable shipping season our service to Blythe consists of a local train based at Blythe. That train operates to the main line at Cadiz when business requires, but often during the year the crew goes no farther than Rice, which is the point where our branch line from Phoenix intersects the Blythe line. Such switching service as is required at Blythe during the nonperishable season is performed by this local. When perishables begin moving in volume, we have to assign switchers at Blythe and also provide additional service between Blythe and Needles for handling inbound empty refrigerators and outbound loads. We operate symbol perishable trains from Blythe eastbound during the heaviest part of the shipping season.
Lettuce moves from this area in the latter part of November and December and again from early in March until the middle of April. In March and April, 1955, 1,938 loads of lettuce were shipped from Blythe, and in November and December, 1955, 1,194 cars of lettuce were shipped. Practically all of the lettuce from the Palo Verde Valley moves to the Midwest and East and is vacuum packed. Vacuum packed lettuce is loaded in pre-iced cars with full bunker or stage icing. The vacuum pack plant at Blythe is served by two tracks with a capacity of six cars for each track. After the lettuce is vacuum cooled, it is loaded at the plant on these tow tracks. It is necessary to provide standby switch service at the vacuum plant. It is necessary to furnish some cars with bunkers set for stage icing which adds to the switching and also it is frequently necessary to switch partially completed loads from and to the vacuum-pack plant because an individual shipper will not have sufficient lettuce on hand to complete loading. After cars are loaded at the vacuum plant, they are returned to the ice dock for re-icing. Fan cars are a necessity in the shipment of vacuum cooled lettuce. Practically all of the vacuum lettuce moves under standard refrigeration.
The other principal commodity moving from the Palo Verde Valley is melons of various varieties. These move from the first part of June until the latter part of July. In June and July 1955, we moved 1,707 carloads of melons from the Blythe area, consisting of cantaloupe, honeydews, Crenshaws, Persians, Casaba and various other varieties. The loading practice varies considerably as between the different types of melons. Honeydew melons are loaded in dry fan refrigerators. These cars are placed at designated spots at the loading sheds, are pulled as loading is completed and placed on what is termed the "gas track." Gassing is ordinarily done by trucks under arrangement made by the shipper. Cars are held on the "gas track" from 12 to 24 hours depending upon the temperature, ripeness and color of the melons. Extreme heat is developed in the cars by the gas, which makes it essential, that cars by switched from the "gas track" and spotted to the ice dock immediately after release. Placing ice in the bunkers of the cars curtails the heating action of the gas. After the cars are iced, they are switched from the ice dock and placed on precooling tracks where precooling is accomplished by the use of electric motors attached to the car fans. Precooling takes 6 hours or more. After release from the precooling track, the cars must be switched again to the ice dock as practically all ice in the bunkers is dissipated in the precooling process. When re-icing is completed, the cars are switched again for outbound movement.
Cantaloupes and various melons other than honeydews are loaded in pre-iced cars and after loading are switched to precooling tracks and thereafter to the ice dock for the replenishing of bunker ice prior to outbound movement. However, frequently honeydews are loaded in mixed cars with other melons which means that a dry fan car is partially loaded with honeydews, then put through the gassing and icing operation described above and must then be re-spotted at the loading shed for loading with other kinds of melons and thereafter go through the various steps required for precooling, icing and classification for outbound movement. These services are all essential to the packers but result in much additional switching for the railroad.
The foregoing switching is over and above that which is required in servicing the loading sheds. There are nine loading sheds at blithe, all of which have a loading capacity in excess of the number of cars, which may be spotted at a given time. For example, Shed No. 3, which loads principally honeydew melons, has a total capacity of twelve cars. During the peak season this shed can load a maximum of twenty cars daily, which would normally mean that we would have to provide two switches a day. However, the requirements of the "gassing" operation are such that switching must be performed when four or five cars are ready for movement to the "gas track", which means that we ordinarily provide four or five switches per day for Shed No 3. Even more switches are required at sheds, which load a wide assortment of melons. Shed No. 6, for example, has a total capacity of eleven cars and has a maximum output of thirty cars daily. However, this shed loads cantaloupes, honeydews, Crenshaws, Casabas and Persians and because of the varying loading requirements of these types of melons, we perform an average of ten to twelve switches per day at this shed during the loading season.
As stated previously, the local service in the Blythe area is supplemented during the heavy shipping season by specially assigned trains which operate between Blythe and the main line at Needles. The average elapsed time for operation of trains between Needles and Blythe is seven hours and thirty minutes. This means that trains handling empty refrigerator from Needles to Blythe must depart Needles sufficiently early to arrive at Blythe at a time that will permit the crew to get its required eight hours rest before being called on duty for the return trip to Needles with the loads, the scheduled departure time of the eastbound loaded train being 12:01 a.m. The required early departure from Needles often results in our operating larger diesel locomotive power that is necessary to handle the loaded outbound movement from Blythe. This is due to our inability to estimate accurately the day's loading and anticipate the amount of business that will move by truck. There is considerable fluctuation from day to day in the truck movement. On some days as many as 30 to 40 loads are shipped by truck from the Palo Verde Valley but the availability of truck from day to day is uncertain.
At the beginning and the end of the shipping season when only a few carloads are offered, the regular local either sets the perishable cars out at Rice to be picked up by the train which operates between Phoenix and Barstow or sometimes handles such cars through to the main line at Cadiz, where they are left to be picked up by an eastbound main line train. In the June-July 1954 period, the Blythe local operated through to Cadiz on twelve occasions between June 1 and 14 and on two occasions left cars at Rice to be handled to Cadiz by the Phoenix-Barstow train. >From June 15 through July 21 an additional train was operated between Needles and Blythe in both directions to protect the empties and loads to and from Blythe. The train was powered by a 4 unit 6,000 H.P. diesel on 24 days, a 3-unit on two days and a 1-unit on nine. Cars which could not be handled by that train because of grade limitations were handled by the local in the manner that I have indicated.
Melons and lettuce also originated in the Salt River Valley of Arizona, and the problems involved in the origination of those commodities are the same as I have previously described for the Palo Verde Valley. However, other perishables in addition to melons and lettuce originate in this area, and the Salt River Valley area is therefore representative of an over-all perishable origination service. For example, in March 1956, we loaded 1,495 carloads of lettuce; 450 carloads of miscellaneous vegetables, and 139 carloads of citrus. In July, 1955, we loaded 1,451 carloads of melons; 175 carloads of grapes and 75 carloads of vegetables. In December, 1955, we loaded 1,187 carloads of lettuce; 359 cars of other vegetables and 128 cars of citrus. This diversification of commodities in the Salt River Valley as compared to the Palo Verde valley results in shipments being made on many more days of the year in the Salt River Valley.
I have previously described the different kinds of refrigeration and car service problems that are involved in the supplying of empty refrigerators for the different kinds of perishables. These service problems are encountered in the Salt River Valley area, in addition to those which I described in connection with the origination of melons and lettuce.
In the Salt river Valley some fruits and vegetables are loaded within the switching limits of Phoenix and the services attendant upon that origination are performed by switch engines. These switch engines not only handle the fruits and vegetables but also all other commodities that originate and terminate at Phoenix. However, the principal origination of fruits and vegetables in the Salt River Valley is not within the switching limits of Phoenix but in the outlying area centered around the station of Glendale. The operations which we perform here are representative of the services required generally in the origination of perishables.
There are seven fruit and vegetable loading sheds at Glendale, and loading sheds or team tracks are also located at the stations of Alhambra, Bumstead, Fennimore, Goldbadge, McMicken, Marinette, Peoria and Wayne. These stations are located at various places within 25 miles of our Phoenix Yard at Mobest. They are served by road switchers operating out of Mobest. There is one switcher assigned daily, regardless of the volume of fruits and vegetables originated, and the number of additional switchers operated is dependent upon the volume of the fruit and vegetables movement. Theses road switchers distribute the empties, pull the loads, switch the ice dock and perform all other loads for outbound movement at Glendale where they are picked up by the through SRX trains originating at Mobest.
Glendale is 187 miles south of the junction with our main line at Ash Fork, Arizona. The terrain is quite rugged in this area. Southward, between Ash fork and Phoenix, there is a 3 per cent grade between Prescott and Prieta, Arizona, a distance of 9 miles, and northward there is a 3 per cent grade between Skull Valley and Alto, a distance of 15 miles. Four-unit 6000 H.P. diesels are used to handle trains between Ash Fork and Phoenix. The tonnage rating for this class of power over the two grades is only 2,402 tons. Helper service is provided in both directions. When fruits and vegetables are not being shipped in volume, we operate on scheduled freight train in each direction daily between Ash Fork and Phoenix. During fruit and vegetable shipping season extra trains are operated to handle the empty and loaded refrigerators to and from the Salt River Valley. Loaded outbound trains, carrying the SRX symbol, handle approximately 65 cars with 3,400 to 3,600 tons and are given two 1500 H.P. diesel units as helpers from Skull Valley to Alto.
Another of the principal originating areas of fruits and vegetables on our railroad is the branch-line territory east of Bakersfield and Fresno, California, on our Valley Division. The principal commodity originated here is grapes, although a good volume of tree fruits and oranges is also produced. Here again the operations which we perform are fairly typical of the local services required in originating fruits and vegetables. The fresh grape shipping season starts the latter part of July and continues through to the latter part of November. While fresh grapes are being shipped transcontinentally, there is also a movement of fresh grapes to cold storage warehouses located in the same area where the grapes are stored under a transit arrangement. Transcontinental shipments of grapes from cold storage are made simultaneously with fresh grape shipments during part of the shipping season and then continue through March or April of the following year.
The empties for loading grapes on the branch lines east of Bakersfield and Fresno are usually conditioned at Bakersfield and Fresno and are distributed by local trains originating at Fresno. The empties are pre-iced at Fresno prior to departure in local trains and it is necessary to maintain close contact with shippers and loading stations to determine the actual number of cars required for loading each day in order to avoid pre-icing more or less cars than needed. All cars must be equipped with fans.
Various methods are utilized in the distribution of the empties and gathering of the loads. Some of the local trains handle the empty distribution from Fresno and pick up the loads for return movement to Fresno. Such loads are then handled from Fresno to Bakersfield in local or through trains, and at the latter point the cars are assembled into through transcontinental trains. Another method of handling is for the locals making the empty distribution to pick up the loads at origin stations and set them out at some other local station within the area where they are picked up later by a different train operating from Fresno to Bakersfield via the branch lines described. In such instances the loads get to Bakersfield without moving through Fresno. After arrival at either Fresno or Bakersfield in the local trains mentioned, cars are re-iced prior to forwarding.
The commodity originating in the greatest volume in southern California is citrus. A typical origin area is that served by our line from Los Angeles to San Bernardino via Pasadena. There are 29 stations with 73 citrus loading sheds in southern California. Cars must be kept available at all times at the loading stations during the shipping season because only a few of the shippers have storage facilities. Various sizes of oranges are loaded and several cars can be loaded simultaneously because of this factor. However, frequently there are not sufficient oranges of a particular size to completely load a car, which increases the switching because these part loads must be respotted after the sheds are switched to secure the complete load.
Shippers usually load warm citrus, particularly oranges, in dry refrigerators. Cars are hauled to San Bernardino and, except during the winter, are switched to our precooling facility, accommodating 28 cars. The cars are precooled for 4, 8 or 16 hours, depending upon the requirements of the particular loads. After precooling is completed, cars are switched to the ice dock for icing. During periods when citrus is moving in volume, space at the precooler is not always available and in such cases cars must be iced for protection purposes prior to placement at the precooler and then re-iced after precooling is completed.
Empties furnished in southern California are usually conditioned at San Bernardino and distributed by local trains operating from that terminal. The same or other local trains pick up the loads for movement to San Bernardino for assembly into eastward transcontinental trains.
We have two yards at San Bernardino. Our conditioning facilities are located in one and the icing facilities in the other. The movement of empties between the two yards, and the switching of loads to and from precooling and icing facilities, together with the switching involved in the separation of fan from non-fan cars, Santa Fe from foreign cars, etc., as previously described, results in repeated handling of cars.
There are several other operating and service problems related to the handling of perishables which occasion considerable additional cost to us. One of them concerns the matter of ice supply for the peak loading periods in June and July. Trying to meet the peak demand for ice in each loading area, and mostly in the summer months, would mean providing ice-manufacturing facilities with far greater capacity than is required for most of the year. Therefore we supplement the supply at certain points by hauling ice from other points where it is available, either from our own plants or from commercial sources. This means performing a very substantial number of car-miles. We made a check of ice hauled from May to November 1953, and found that we hauled 2,377 cars of ice, 1,132 of which were in June, and that the cars made 572,469 loaded miles. There was considerable empty haul also, as well as loss of car days for commercial service. Standard refrigerator cars are used for this service.
Another expensive service incident to the transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables is the performance of diversions, which are very extensive on the Santa Fe and on other origin lines. The perishable tariffs authorize three free diversions, which may consist of change in destination or route or both. Most of the free diversions are taken in the West, relatively few in the East, and it is my belief that more of them are taken on our line than our Midwestern connections. In 1954 we accomplished a total of 43,581 diversions on perishables originating in Mountain-Pacific territory, approximately one-third of them at Belen, New Mexico. Aside from the telegraphing and clerical work involved in handling these 43,581 diversions, considerable additional switching was required. As a check on the amount of additional switching performed in connection with diversions, we took a random sample by car numbers of diversions at Belen in 1954, the sample comprising 1,294 cars. Of that number, 204, or approximately 16 per cent, required switching in excess of ordinary handling. Applied to the total of 43,581 diversions, this indicates performance of extra switching service on account of diversions on over 6,800 cars in 1954. In addition to diversions involving change of destination or route, shippers may order a change in the name of consignee, a privilege which is availed of to a great extent on our line. While not causing any additional switching, these reconsignments require a tremendous amount of telegraph and clerical service.
As I have indicated earlier, the origination of fresh fruits and vegetables entails the performance of a very substantial amount of gathering and switching service as well as the incurring of various expenses associated with providing, maintaining and distributing refrigerator cars. These special services and the high cost associated with them thus apply directly to over half of the entire traffic which we originate and move eastbound for delivery east of Clovis. We perform all of the origination way-train service on this traffic and incur all of the other costs typically borne by carriers in originating perishables. Our connections east of Clovis bear none of such costs in their handling of this traffic. It is possible that an occasional car of perishables is terminated by a Midwestern or an Eastern line by way train, but to the extent that such service is performed by one of those lines, it must be contrasted with the fact that we perform local service on virtually every car of perishables which we originate.
All of our California perishables originate on the Los Angles and Valley Divisions. It will be seen that the percentage of way train miles to total train miles on those two divisions approximates the average for the system, 21.2 and 22.7 per cent for the Los Angeles and Valley Divisions as against 22.1 percent for the system. This is in contrast to the performance by us on the other divisions comprising our transcontinental freight route of virtually no way train service in moving this traffic to Midwestern or eastern destinations or connections.