of the branch. Their expert asserted the line could be safely operated for the next 5 years without a major rehabilitation with maintenance expenditure of $10,000 per year, an approximate $4,000 increase over current expenditure. If the opinion of their expert had been adopted, operating expenses in the future would be greater than they were in the past, resulting in increased operating deficits in the future.
The railroads asserted to the Commission that it would cost $50,000 annually to maintain the line after a major rehabilitation. There is therefore evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the majority of the railroad's expenses will not disappear after rehabilitation, even though the close inspection of the line which is now being made because the track is in such poor condition may no longer be necessary.
Carloads handled on the branch
Plaintiffs argued that the board erred in finding there was insufficient business on the branch to support continued operation. Babcock contends the number of carloads shipped over the line has been increasing over the past three years and that the number of carloads would have been greater had the railroad complied with its request for more and better cars. Babcock argues that the railroad cannot claim insufficient business on the line as a basis for abandonment because it created this situation by its continued resistance and delay in providing cars.
The evidence submitted to the Commission and reviewed in its report shows that in fact the number of carloads decreased in 1970. In 1969, 1970 and 1971, 83, 60 and 94 carloads were handled on the branch. Furthermore, traffic on the line over the past three years was less than it had been in prior years due to the closing of the Melcroft Mine in 1968. In 1967 the line handled 546 carloads of freight and in 1968, 62 carloads were handled.
No evidence was introduced to substantiate Babcock's claim that its use of the line would have increased had more cars been provided or that it has been damaged by the unavailability of cars to ship its goods. It did not show that it was unable to fill orders, that it was forced to use alternate methods of shipment, or that it lost business due to its inability to obtain rail transportation.
We note that there is a freight car shortage in this country and shippers frequently are required to wait for cars to ship their merchandise. See United States v. Allegheny-Ludlum Steel Corp., 406 U.S. 742, 92 S. Ct. 1941, 32 L. Ed. 2d 453 (1972). The fact that cars are not available immediately on request is not an argument against authorizing abandonment.
Plaintiffs further contend that the board failed to take their public necessity arguments into consideration in granting abandonment. Babcock asserts the board ignored its arguments that the proposed abandonment will be harmful to the public in that it will produce a discharge of workers at a time when such layoffs should be avoided and will reduce the export of materials at a time when the public needs require that exports be increased. Furthermore, Babcock argues it will be harmed by the proposed abandonment because alternative transportation is economically prohibitive.
Babcock argued to the Commission that the benefit to the nation resulting from the transport of its product should be taken into consideration in determining whether abandonment is appropriate. Shipment of its lumber provides income to the rail system across the country both in the initial shipment of the wood and in the shipment of finished products made from the wood, generating jobs for railway personnel and persons who transfer, utilize, fashion and market the wood. Although they admit their business is too small to substantially affect the national job and export market, they assert precedent which allows abandonment in disregard of small business can cumulatively affect the national economy.
It was also argued that because there was no other method of shipment as inexpensive as rail transportation, elimination of the branch would have a detrimental economic impact on this lumbering business and would necessitate a reduction of its lumbering force. During the September, 1971, washout, trucks were used to fill contractual commitments at a net loss for each load due to the trucking costs and double handling. Whereas the cost of rail transportation amounts to approximately $6 per 1,000 board feet of lumber, it cost $24 per 1,000 board feet to use trucks during the emergency period.
All of the facts and arguments set forth by Babcock in opposition to the proposed abandonment were reviewed in the report of the Commission and considered in its conclusions. The board specifically indicated that it had considered possible injury to Babcock and the general area carefully in determining that abandonment was appropriate. In weighing the losses to the railroad against the public need for continuation of the line, it found that although Babcock would probably suffer financial harm, the public would be more effectively served in other areas if the railroad's good financial posture were not weakened by requiring it to operate unprofitable lines.
In almost all cases there is some adverse effect resulting from abandonment. This does not prevent abandonment of line. It is well settled that a shipper cannot insist that a burdensome line be maintained solely for its own use. Moeller v. I.C.C., supra ; Village of Candor v. United States, supra ; Town of Inlet v. New York Cent. R. Co., 7 F. Supp. 781 (N.D.N.Y. 1934).
The very purpose and function of the Commission is to identify and weigh the various interests that would be affected by the abandonment with a view toward promoting a national transportation system adequate to meet the nation's needs.
The benefit to one of the abandonment must be weighed against the inconvenience and loss to which the other will thereby be subjected. Conversely, the benefits to particular communities and commerce of continued operation must be weighed against the burden thereby imposed upon other commerce . . . . The result of this weighing -- the judgment of the Commission -- is expressed by its order granting or denying the certificate.
Colorado v. United States, 271 U.S. 153, 168, 46 S. Ct. 452, 456, 70 L. Ed. 878, 885 (1926).
The balancing of competing interests to determine the public convenience and necessity is peculiarly within the competence and discretion of the I.C.C. I.C.C. v. Parker, 326 U.S. 60, 65 S. Ct. 1490, 89 L. Ed. 2051 (1945):
This determination of whether the public interest would be best served by continuing or discontinuing the trains is a question that requires the exercise of informed expert judgment and the weighing and balancing of many complicated and intricate facts. State of New York v. United States, supra, 299 F. Supp., at 1001 (N.D.N.Y. 1969);