History of transport – part 30. How the railway lost its orders for transport for the benefit of trucks

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The railway was increasingly losing customers from industry and commerce sectors to the car. Transport of one hundred pounds (about 50 kg) of break bulk cargo by express train in 1921 from Buffalo to Tonawanda (distance 16 km) cost 83 cents, by truck – only 25 cents.

The entire car transport lasted 46 hours shorter. At a distance of 206 km (to Ashtabula) costs were leveled (133 cents by rail and 130 by car), but the truck was still 68 hours faster. At a distance of 493 km (to Albany) the railway cost 138 cents (more than twice cheaper than a truck), but the transport lasted 65 hours longer.

The railway transport took a lot of time, because of the transshipment of the goods at the station. In addition, delivery to the recipient and the costs of packaging were added. Meanwhile, the loading and unloading of the truck lasted one hour and the travel speed reached 16 km/h.

For example, a large department store in Detroit used the benefits of fast road transport and launched a car distribution of purchases within a radius of 120 km. Thanks to this, it significantly expanded the circle of recipients and significantly improved the quality of service.

The railway also lost important customers, such as furniture manufacturers and moving companies, which resigned from train transport due to numerous cargo trans-shipments, although it was cheaper than trucks at distances above 480 km.

In the next episode of Transportation History in Trans.INFO:

How the reduction in transshipments accelerated rail transport.

Previous articles in the series:

Siege of the fortress in Verdun, or a final test for motorized army

How professional road transport was born

How the army trained drivers and mechanics Berliet: a war bestseller

From military surplus to civilian use, or how the bus industry was born

A half of cheese – bribes given to German customs officers 90 years ago

How the German road transport developed at the beginning of the 20th century

How buses quickly conquered the transport market

What was the difference between pre-war American buses and European ones? 

How farmers contributed to the development of trucks in America 

How sellers benefited from trucks