The railroads are economically best suited for the wholesale movement of freight. The controlling factor in their operation is terminal capacity, and terminal costs and delays are the chief obstacles to their greater participation in the short-haul movement of less-than-carload traffic.

Under the present methods and conditions, the highway operator can move most less-than-carload freight for considerable distances cheaper than the railways. He will continue to maintain an economic advantage for the shorter terminal hauls, but a new instrument of freight transportation, the unit freight container, will permit the profitable rail handling of much of the traffic now trucked greater distances. This will necessarily result in the restoration of this traffic to the railways.

The container will use both the highway vehicle and the railroad in the portions of the total movement for which they are best fitted. The rail cost of less than one cent per ton-mile—or about one-seventh of the cost of movement by motor truck—will apply to the road-haul portion, and the terminal cost will be decreased because of the elimination of at least four man-handlings of the freight. The most important collateral benefits are:

1 Faster handling of freight from shipper to consignee

2 Relief of terminal congestion

3 Elimination of theft and damage claims

4 Reduction in packing and carting costs

5 Reduction in rolling stock devoted to L.C.L. service.

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