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Thu Jan 31 07:19:09 EST 2008

Roanoke Times - January 28, 1908


Interstate Commerce Commission Decides Against the N. & W. and Others


Commission Convinced it Results in Unlawful Discrimination, But It's Not
Unmindful That Change May Occasion Loss and Injury to Some Operators

Washington, Jan. 27. - Through Chairman Knapp the interstate commerce
commissions today rendered its decision in the Powhatan Coal & Coke Company
against the Norfolk & Western Railway Company and 56 coal operating
companies in the Pocahontas district in which it was alleged that the
method of car distribution known as the "coke oven basis" unduly
discriminates against the complainant and requested that the so-called
"capacity basis", of car distribution be adopted. The commission decided
that the coke oven basis did not fairly measure the relative rights of the
various ovens and did unduly discriminate against the complainant, and did
operate to the unreasonable preference of other mining companies in the
same field. The commission declared that when the supply of cars was
inadequate it was the duty of the carrier to fairly distribute the
available number of cars among all operators.
"While the commission is convinced by the facts and circumstances
disclosed that the present basis is unjust and results in unlawful
discriminations, it is unmindful that the change which will be directed may
occasion loss and injury to some of the operators whose expenditures for
the construction of coke ovens, as required by their leases, may be
materially and perhaps greatly diminished in value. Although not warranted
in sanctioning a further continuance of the coke oven basis, which under
existing conditions is found to be neither just nor suitable, the
commission does not desire nor intend that the report and order herein
shall affect the rights, responsibilities, or liabilities of any of the
interested parties under any contract or agreement which they might have
otherwise have been able to enforce to their benefit. It is assumed that
some form of capacity basis suited to the conditions and peculiarities of
the district in question will be devised and put into effect; but the
railway company should take the responsibility, at least in the first
instance, of determining and applying the substituted basis.
"The Norfolk & Western Railway Company was ordered to cease and desist
for at least a period of two years from enforcing the coke oven basis in
said district. It was further ordered to establish for at least two years a
regulation whereby coal cars shall be distributed fairly and equitably
among the operators along its line in said district, without undue
discrimination against or undue preference in favor of any of the said


- Ron Davis, Roger Link

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