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READING COMPANY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. (03/24/60)

March 24, 1960

READING COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION.



Appeal, No. 496, Oct. T., 1959, from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Application Docket No. 86108, in case of Reading Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Allen Lesley, with him H. Merle Mulloy, for appellant.

Louis J. Carter, Assistant Counsel, with him Joseph F. McCloskey, Assistant Counsel, and Thomas M. Kerrigan, Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

Elizabeth Ehrlich, for intervenors, under Rule 46.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (hirt, J., absent).

Author: Ervin

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 636]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

The matter involved in this appeal is the application of Reading Company for approval of a change in the status of its Wernersville Station in the Borough of Wernersville, Berks County, from that of an agency passenger and freight station to that of a non-agency passenger and freight station. A previous similar application was denied by the Commission on March 14, 1955. In the present proceedings, protests were filed by the Order of Railroad Telegraphers and Gloray Knitting Mills who were represented by counsel at the hearing. No direct testimony was offered by protestants. The Commission denied the application and the company appealed.

The factors to be considered in eliminating a passenger agency have been so thoroughly and recently considered by this Court that we deem it unnecessary to repeat them in this opinion. See Rydal-Meadowbrook Assn. v. Pa. P.U.C., 173 Pa. Superior Ct. 380, 98 A.2d 481; Pa. Railroad Co. v. Pa. P.U.C., 184 Pa. Superior Ct. 228, 132 A.2d 887.

What was so well said by the Court in Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Public Service Commission, 77 F. Supp. 675, 685, 686, is applicable to the present application: "The court cannot close its eyes to conditions as they exist and which are well known to every one. As was pointed out by the South Carolina Supreme Court in Blease v. Charleston & W. C. Ry., 146 S.C. 496, 144 S.E. 233, a railroad company has but limited powers of management. It has no power to fix rates

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 637]

    and thus has little control over its revenue. Its control over expenses, particularly wages, is also strictly limited as the spiral of recent wage increases abundantly indicates. It is restricted in its managerial functions by rules arising from contracts with wellintegrated and nation-wide labor organizations. It is in competition with bus and truck lines as well as private automobiles which travel over highways built, not by private capital, as is the case with rail carriers, but by public expenditures. It is in competition with government subsidized waterways, and, in recent years, with the expanding activities of the air lines. Recent rate increases, which in the final analysis have to come from the public pocket, are in recognition of the impact of these forces. In such circumstances it is the duty of a carrier to seek, and of regulatory agencies to permit, the elimination of those services and facilities that are no longer needed nor used by the public to any substantial extent."

Wernersville station is an agency passenger and freight station located on applicant's Lebanon Valley Branch, Reading Division, in the Borough of Wernersville, Berks County. The nearest agency stations on the Lebanon Valley Branch are at Sinking Spring, 2.9 miles by rail and about 3.2 miles by improved highway to the east, and Womelsdorf, 5.8 miles by rail and about 6.2 miles by improved highway to the west. The agent at the Wernersville station is on duty daily, except Saturday, Sunday and holidays, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., or a total of four hours per day. The Wernersville agency station is "dualized" with the Womelsdorf agency station where the agent spends the rest of his eight-hour tour of duty. Also, the ...


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