Canadian Transport Sourcebook

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Canadian Transport Sourcebook > All works> 52 Questions on the Nationalization of Canadian Railways > Chapter 5

V

But can the Nationalized Road not have that?

No. Reluctant as the word may come—No! Down through that quick-nerved staff, ten thousand lads dreaming of the Presidency some day, leaping to obey, will have their vision cut off at one stroke—by Nationalization. Full of that quality which everywhere marks the superior breed of men, these boys and men desire to be master of the shop—not clerk, nor even deputy, but able to earn the highest responsibility, the control of that kind of work on the Road! Able to stand, as the Big Boss stands on the pinnacle which nobody gave him but which he helped to build and climbed himself! Able to say, as every decent man loves to say of his work: "A poor thing, but mine own!"

Young railroad men happy in the consciousness that there is only one game they need to know to win even the highest post, Railroading! not Politics—these are the men who make great railroaders.

Nationalization to them means stagnation! Lost ambition!

Lost Confidence! But why should They Feel that Way?

A finnicky and unskilled boss—the Public! An uncertain game in which the power of some unknowing newspaper is as likely to have a man fired as not or promoted out of his turn. A game in which the wise man suppresses his initiative, "sits tight," and "sings small." A game in which "the top" is closed to the worker!

Sentiment! you say?

No. Psychology! Observe the ambitious girl made a household drudge. She hates it because no amount of drudgery can ever make that house or home her own. Make it her own home, cheap, poor and cold—and watch her work!

Yet—Did Morale Save the American Lines from Collapse?

No. Because, as you will find by a little study, a timid public had sanctioned for years a railway policy which no degree of pluck could save from a disastrous ending.

A policy which forbade roads to combine with one another and form transcontinental systems, and which had endowed the country, when war arrived, with seven hundred roads, not one of them able to operate a train from coast to coast.

A policy which forced upon these roads highly competitive conditions which stimulated the indirect-routing evil, fancy and extravagant services, and dubious methods of finance.

A policy which held rates down at a ruinous figure and forced the managements into the hands of Wall Street gamblers, using the properties merely as stock-juggling propositions; or managers who paid dividends and bond interest out of money required for repairs and extensions; and managers who paid miserable wages and offended labor all because the means to do otherwise were unobtainable.

A policy which in 1917 had left the United States with seven hundred little roads, not one of them National, all inexperienced in transcontinental operation, many in run-down condition.

A policy which McAdoo at once reversed by advancing $222,000,000 for repairs and extensions; by raising freight and passenger rates 40%; by cutting down service to the point of actual discomfort; and by raising wages.

Yet to-day, in spite of easier finances, centralized control and higher wages, the chief worry of the United States Railway Administration appears to be the falling Morale of the staffs.

[Public Domain] Copyright/Licence: This work was first published in 1964 or earlier, and the author of the work was anonymous. To the best of my knowledge, the author of the work was unknown at the end of the year 50 years after the work was published, meaning that this work would be in the public domain in Canada, per section 6.2 of the Copyright Act. Note also this link. See disclaimers.