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ERIE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD COMPANY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. (03/17/64)

March 17, 1964

ERIE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION.



Appeal, No. 37, March T., 1964, from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, No. 89824, in case of Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Cody H. Brooks, with him Warren, Hill, Henkelman & McMenamin, for appellant.

Joseph F. McCloskey, Assistant Counsel, with him Joseph C. Bruno, Chief Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (ervin, J., absent).

Author: Wright

[ 202 Pa. Super. Page 513]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

On January 16, 1963, the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Company applied to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approval of a change in the status of its station in the Borough of Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from that of an agency freight station to that of a non-agency carload only freight station. The sole protest filed was by the Order of Railroad Telegraphers. Testimony was taken at a hearing on March 26, 1963. By its order dated September 3, 1963, the Commission denied the application. This appeal by the Company followed.

The record discloses that the station in question is located in Plymouth Borough on the Company's Scranton division four miles by highway southwest of its agency station at Kingston. Plymouth Borough has a population of approximately 10,500. The facilities of the Company at Plymouth consist of a freight station building and a team track. The local agent is on duty from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. and from 12:00 noon to 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, except holidays. He does not handle mail, telegrams, or express. Non-agency stations of the Company at West Nanticoke, Auchincloss and Avondale are also under the jurisdiction of the agent at Plymouth.

Carload Freight at Plymouth is presently handled by local way-freight train operating from Kingston on Monday through Friday. Less than carload shipments are handled in pick-up and delivery service by truck operating from the Kingston Agency. If the instant application is approved, the Company proposes that

[ 202 Pa. Super. Page 514]

    its Kingston agency would have jurisdiction of the then non-agency station at Plymouth, as well as the non-agency stations at West Nanticoke, Auchincloss and Avondale. Carload Freight and less than carload shipments would continue to be handled as at present. Notifications and business transactions would be made either by mail, telephone, or by direct contact at Kingston. There would be no telephone toll charge to Kingston. The agent at Kingston would travel to Plymouth whenever necessary.

The only testimony offered at the hearing before the Commission's examiner was that of Clyde R. Detrick, the Company's supervisor of stations and car service. The Company also placed in evidence two lengthy and detailed exhibits containing a recapitulation of revenue, a statement of cars received and forwarded, a statement of less than car-load shipments received and forwarded, and a statement of annual operating costs. The Order of Railroad Telegraphers was represented by counsel, who cross-examined Mr. Detrick and offered in evidence four photographs of the Plymouth station. There was no protect or appearance either by patrons of the Company or by members of the general public.

The factors to be considered in applications of this nature were set forth by President Judge RHODES in the leading case of Rydal-Meadowbrook Association v. Pa. P.U.C., 173 Ap. Superior Ct. 380, 98 A.2d 481, as follows: "Where the carrier seeks to remove the agent from a station and reduce it to a non-agency status, the following factors should receive consideration: (1) The volume and the nature of the business transacted at the station; (2) proximity and accessibility of other stations; (3) the ratio of cost of maintaining the station agency ...


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