in this case, while plaintiffs argue that "(the) ordering language of section 13a(1) permits continuance, in whole or in part, but such partial continuance is dependent upon the original notice invoking jurisdiction having requested a partial discontinuance." Specifically, plaintiffs assert "(absent) proper notice, the I.C.C. is without power to order a partial continuance or to permit a partial discontinuance because any order must be based upon findings, and the findings required to be made by section 13a(1) are specifically tied down to such discontinuance as is contained in the notice and made the subject of the investigation."
Section 13a was enacted by Congress as part of the Transportation Act of 1958. The legislative history of that Act reveals Congress' concern about the financial plight of railroads, attributable in part to the losses sustained in operating passenger trains. To discontinue these trains before the enactment of § 13a, the railroads were required in all cases to seek authority from each of the States served. See 104 Cong.Rec. 10842-10843, 10851. Without concurrence of all the States affected, the railroad might be compelled to continue operations despite serious losses. New Jersey v. New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad Co., 372 U.S. 1, 83 S. Ct. 614, 9 L. Ed. 2d 541 (1963). The purpose of Congress in enacting Section 13a(1) was remedial
and this statute gave a railroad the right to discontinue interstate passenger trains by serving a notice and supporting statement on the Commission and by posting notices in the trains and stations involved. In addition, notices and statements were to be served on the Governors and the appropriate regulatory agencies of each State. Within thirty days of notice, the Commission has the authority to enter upon an investigation of such discontinuance or change. If the Commission decides not to investigate, then the railroad may discontinue the trains as of the date designated in the notice. See State of New Jersey v. United States, 168 F. Supp. 324 (D.C.1958), affirmed 359 U.S. 27, 79 S. Ct. 607, 3 L. Ed. 2d 625 (1959). If the Commission decides to investigate the proposed discontinuance, then the Commission may require "* * * such train or ferry to be continued in operation or service, in whole or in part, pending hearing and decision in such investigation, but not for a longer period than four months beyond the date when such discontinuance or change would otherwise have become effective." After the hearing in such investigation has been concluded, the Commission, after appropriate statutory findings are made, may "* * * require the continuance or restoration of operation or service of such train or ferry, in whole or in part, for a period not to exceed one year from the date of such order." Thus, recognizing that under the statute a railroad is free to discontinue the operation or service absent an affirmative order of the Commission, it would appear that Congress intended to confer authority on the Commission to order a partial continuance even though the railroad sought to discontinue the whole run from point of origin to point of termination. This has been the interpretation of the Commission in prior cases,
and such interpretation by the agency charged with the administration of the statute is entitled to great weight. Levinson v. Spector Motor Co., 330 U.S. 649, 67 S. Ct. 931, 91 L. Ed. 1158 (1947). What the Commission did in the case before us was to order the continuance of the operation of the trains between Harrisburg and Baltimore, while, at the same time, allowing the discontinuance of the operation between Harrisburg and Buffalo which, in effect, required continuance "in part" of the operation sought to be discontinued.
The contention that the Commission is restricted to the discontinuance sought in the original notice and cannot order a partial continuance is untenable. This would place the Commission in an administrative straightjacket and would not comport with the statutory purpose. Its effect would be to penalize the railroad for seeking to discontinue more of the operation than the Commission ultimately decided it was proper to do. There is nothing in the statute or legislative history suggesting such a limitation. As was pointed out in People of State of California v. United States, 258 F. Supp. 950, 954 (N.D.Cal.1966), a train discontinuance case under 13a(1):
"We see no reason for imposing an illogical restriction - one which is at odds with the purpose of Congress - upon a statute which was deliberately drawn in broad and flexible terms."