Government Ownership of the Railroads

April 21, 1938

Report Outline
Postponement of Permanent Rail Legislation
Present Financial Plight of the Railroads
Government Operation of Railroads in Wartime
Proposals for Federal Ownership and Operation of Railroads
Special Focus

Postponement of Permanent Rail Legislation

Rossevelt's Avoidance of Positive Recommendations

A Program of railroad legislation drawn up by three members of the Interstate Commerce Commission was transmitted to Congress by President Roosevelt, April 11, with a special message in which he said action was necessary at this time to stave off “serious financial and operating difficulties” for the railroads “between now and the convening of the next Congress.”

The program had been hurriedly prepared by Chairman Splawn and Commissioners Eastman and Mahaffie, acting as a subcommittee of a special committee of government officials and representatives of railroad management, labor and investors, which met with the President at the White House in mid-March. In addition to measures for immediate relief-calling chiefly for extensions of government credit to railroads to enable them to meet fixed charges and to purchase equipment-the commissioners suggested several measures of long-term relief, including a proposal for establishment of a Federal Transportation Authority to plan and promote coordination and consolidation of railroad facilities.

Although the President believed “some immediate legislation” was necessary, pending “permanent solution of the railroad problem” by Congress, he did not specifically recommend enactment of any of the proposals advanced by the subcommittee of Interstate Commerce Commissioners in his message of April 11. On the other hand, he transmitted to the House and Senate the comments of other members of the larger committee, some of whom criticized the subcommittee's report as “inadequate,” “ineffective,” and “overcautious.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 14, 2022  Passenger Rail
May 01, 2009  High-Speed Trains Updated
Oct. 18, 2002  Future of Amtrak
Apr. 16, 1993  High-Speed Rail
Mar. 10, 1978  Future of American Railroads
Mar. 07, 1975  Railroad Reorganization
Jun. 20, 1973  Railroad Nationalization
Nov. 17, 1961  Railroad Subsidies
Aug. 24, 1960  Railroad Mergers
Jan. 01, 1958  Condition of the Railroads
Jan. 31, 1951  Railway Safety
Oct. 04, 1944  Railroad Freight Rates
Jun. 12, 1939  The Government and the Railroads
Apr. 21, 1938  Government Ownership of the Railroads
Dec. 07, 1937  Railroad Rates and Revenues
Jul. 17, 1937  Advances in Railway Passenger Service
Sep. 27, 1934  Railroad Rates And Federal Regulation of Transportation
Jan. 11, 1933  Railroad Receiverships and Reorganizations
Aug. 26, 1932  The Railroads and the Depression
Oct. 13, 1931  Wages of Railroad Labor
Jul. 09, 1931  Railroad Freight Rates
Feb. 14, 1931  The Railroad Consolidation Controversy
Sep. 19, 1927  The Problem of Railroad Valuation
Mar. 30, 1927  Railroad Consolidation and Prospective Legislation
Mar. 26, 1927  Principles of Railroad Consolidation
Mar. 08, 1926  Railway Labor Disputes Legislation
May 04, 1925  The Baltimore and Ohio Cooperation Plan
Sep. 12, 1924  National Railroad Consolidation and the Van Sweringen Merger
Aug. 14, 1924  Automatic Train Control in Relation to Railroad Casualties
May 28, 1924  The Condition of American Railroads