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The subject of safety in transportation is one that commands the constant and anxious interest of this body and considerable time and attention is given to the devising of ways, means and methods of operation so as to eliminate, so far as is possible, the dangers attendant upon rapid transit. The building and maintaining of the best attainable road and bridges, the supplying of the most modern and approved equipment, the employment of truly scientific methods of operation, the securing of a sufficient number of competent and reliable operatives are plain duties resting upon the carriers, any neglect of which should be criminal in the eye of the law. If these conditions could be attained in the equipment of the road on the one hand and in its operation on the other, the hazard would be reduced to such a degree that the question of danger would be practically eliminated as a factor to be considered in traveling or transporting goods.
Not as indicating the greatest element of danger, but as a step in the direction of the general movement, and with the expectation that some beneficial results might flow therefrom, a conference of the operating officials of all the interurban lines of the state was called to consider the subject of safety as affected by methods of operation. These officials responded most cordially to the invitation to be present at this conference, and took up this subject with great earnestness. A result of the work of this conference and of the work of the committee appointed to act for the whole body was the adoption of a uniform code of rules which should serve as a basis upon which the rules best suited for the operation of the different roads could be formulated. It is not possible or desirable that cach and every road should be operated under exactly similar rules, for each has its special and particular problems to face and solve; but the code so adopted contains all the rules that have stood the test of experiment, and is in fact a storehouse from which cach road may draw that which is best suited to meet its particular and special requirements.
One of the greatest sources of annoyance to the shipping public and, as a consequence, to the Commission also, is poverty stricken and bankrupt railroads. As has well been stated, “A bankrupt railroad is a commercial nuisance," and some speedy and effective means should be provided to abate this form of nuisance, as is provided in the case of nuisances of a different character.
It may be safely said that no road in the state of Ohio at the present time need be bankrupt, and none would be in that condition under competent and honest management, and no road need be so poor as to be unable to secure rolling stock and motive power to carry the traffic offered it, if those in control always recognized the obligations of the carrier to the state, whose creature it is, and to the public, whose servant it ought to be, and were content with a fair or even liberal compensation for the investment of capital, energy and ability devoted to its operation. But when railroads are builded and operated for speculative purposes and are used in the game of high finance as pawns, no other results can logically follow than the placing of a staggering burden of debt on the carrier and inefficient and inadequate service to the public. Under the exercise of the great power of the right of eminent domain, railroads can and do force themselves into all parts of the state, and it is necessary and very proper that they should have this power; but having in that manner pre-empted the transportation business and the right to serve communities and sections of country, to the exclusion of all other carriers, and capital having thus been attracted to enterprises located contiguous to their lines, they should never be allowed to forget that their prime duty is to the public and the justification for their existence and the reason they are al lowed to exércise these extraordinary rights and privileges is that they may afford to the communities and individuals along their route reasonably adequate shipping and passenger facilities. But it too often happens that in place of keeping these duties and obligations in mind, the men in control of the road are devoting their great talents and vast ability to devising and carrying through schemes whereby, in the legerdemain of manipulation, they may win a fortune in a day. In the meantime, while this process is going on, investors in enterprises along the line are damaged and sometimes bankrupted by their inability to get their products to market. Efficient means should be found to prevent such disastrous manipulation, and adequate punishiment should be provided for the offenders.
The condition of safety appliances on equipment moving in this state commands approval. The safety appliance law is directed to equipment with and maintenance of certain mechanical appurtenances to rolling stock employed in the transportation of state traffic. These appliances are couplers, coupling automatically by impact, and capable of being uncoupled without the necessity of men going between the ends of the cars; secure sill steps, grab-irons or hand-holds, and power air-brake systems by which the speed of trains can be regulated from the cab of the locomotive. The object of the act, primarily, is protection of life and limb of railroad employes, but their safety is so intimately associated with the welfare of the traveling public that the legislature had in mind the safeguarding of passengers as well as that of railroad employes.
No efforts have been spared by the Commission to see that the provisions of the law are strictly observed. The reports of the inspector show fewer penalty defects, and complaints of violation have been much less numerous than in the past. The railroads are observing the laws more carefully and are cordially co-operating with the Safety Appliance Inspector. During the past year the Commission has filed four cases for violation of the safety appliance law, making a total of one hundred and fifty-five cases filed since the organization of the Commission. Of the one hundred and fifty-five cases filed in the various counties of the state, one hundred and nineteen have been disposed of, either by settlement or dismissal, leaving thirty-six cases still pending
The opinion of the Attorney General, appearing elsewhere in this volume, has been of assistance in clearing up certain ambiguities concerning the meaning and application of the safety appliance act.
0. H. HUGUES,
At the time of making the last report there were pending in the courts of Franklin county appeals in five cases from the finding and order of the Commission. Of these five, three have been disposed of, as have also two new proceedings under appeals from the findings and orders of the Commission.
C. Oeffler & Son; Phillip Fick & Sons, and Bengel Brothers' Mining Company versus The Hocking Valley Railway Company.-In the case of C. Oeftler & Son, Phillip Fick & Sons and Bengel Brothers' Mining Company versus The Hocking Valley Railway Company (Formal los. 10, 11 and 12) the common pleas court sustained the Commission in its findings and upheld its order, which was affirmed by the circuit court, where the case was dismissed at the plaintiff's costs.
Aaron E. Price versus The Hocking Valley Railway Company.In the case of Aaron E. Price against The Hocking Valley Railway Company (Formal So. 14), the common pleas court overruled the Commission and sustained the defendant. This action of the common pleas court was affirmed by the circuit court. The case has been appealed to the supreme court, where it is now pending.
The Village of Greenwich versus The Northern Ohio Railway Company. The defendant in the case of the Village of Greenwich versus The Northern Ohio Railway Company (Formal No. 37, decided February 4, 1908), appealed to the common pleas court of Iluron county. The attorney general, on behali of the Commission, demurred to the petition on the ground that all actions against the Railroad Commission are required to be commenced in the court of common pleas of Franklin County, which demurrer was sustained by Judge ll'ickham. The appeal was taken by defendant to the Franklin County court of common pleas, where it was dismissed at plaintiff's costs.
Pickands, Mather & Co., et al., Petitioners, in the Matter of Car Service Rules.-In December, 1907, a petition was filed with the Commission by certain corporations and partnerships, representing the furnace interests of the state of Ohio, alleging that the car service rules prescribed by the Commission on May 8, 1907 (Formal No. 1), which rules became effective on August 1, 1007, did not meet the demands of these said interests, and that the rules imposed unnecessary hardships upon the petitioners, in that they did not provide reasonable and proper relief from car service charges accruing from causes due neither to petitioners' fault nor the carriers'. At a hearing, largely of an informal character, to which the several carriers had been summoned, there was a general acquiescence upon the part of such carriers in the specifications, setting forth changes desired in the rules by the petitioners, whereupon the Commission made its order (Picka:1ds, Mather & Co., et al., Complainants, Formal No. 43), and directed that the same should become effective on May 15, 1908. Before the date of taking effect of these rules the carriers, parties to the proceeding, joined in filing a bill in the court of common pleas of Franklin County, in which the petitioners charged (1) unreasonableness of the rules, and (2) want of jurisdiction upon the part of the Commission, alleging that car service, or demurrage, on shipments originating in the state and destined to points without the state, and on shipments originating without the state and destined to points within the state, was under the jurisdiction of the federal powers and that the order of this Commission was an interference with interstate commerce. The court of common pleas granted an injunction against the Commission, restraining the Commission from enforcing the rules prescribed by it on interstate shipments. Upon final hearing in the court of common pleas the temporary injunction was made perpetual. The Commission then prosecuted error to the circuit court of Franklin County, Ohio, where the decision of the court of common pleas was affirmed and the following opinion handed down on October 12, 1909:
"The action in the court below was brought by a number of railroad companies located in this state and engaged in state and interstate transportation against the Railroad Commission of the State, to enjoin it from enforcing certain rules and regulations affecting car service and demurrage.
“The case was submitted to the court below upon demurrer to the second cause of action. The first cause of action, which challenged the reasonableness of the rules, was not presented and no question is made so far as the second cause of action is concerned as to the reasonableness of the rules, but only as to the power of the State Commission to promulgate and enforce them.
“The court of common pleas held the rules valid except as affecting cars employed in interstate commerce. And a permanent injunction was only allowed to prevent their enforcement to that extent.
"The Railroad Commission prosecute error to this court to reverse so much of the judgment as enjoined the enforcement of its rules to the extent above stated.
“The principal argument of counsel is directed to the effect of the 'commerce clause of the National Constitution, delegating to Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states. In this connection it may be remarked that this clause has been the subject of repeated adjudications by the Supreme Court of the United States. But, notwithstanding all that has been expressed, the line of demarcation between federal and state jurisdiction is not clearly established, and the power to regulate terminal facilities and car service lies within the are of doubt and dispute. But aside from the con