Railroads, the Free Enterprise Alternative

By Daniel L. Overbey | Go to book overview

16
OPPORTUNITY FOR INNOVATION

Innovation is essential to the health of any industry. The Free Enterprise Alternative encourages innovation by placing rail carriers in a free, competitive market. Carriers are given the freedom and flexibility to try new ideas. They are given the opportunity to succeed and the opportunity to fail.

Under the traditional railroad structure innovation typically follows a slow and torturous path. Because each railroad company provides exclusive service over its own tracks, any innovation must meet not only the physical requirements of the railroad company but also its commercial standards. A proposal must adhere to that particular company's business philosophy, profitability objectives, and operating procedures.

Innovation also faces formidable obstacles at the industry level. The railroad industry is highly interdependent, because each railroad has access only to its own tracks, and the commercial philosophies of a few conservative companies often dominate the rail industry. To be effective, innovations usually must be accepted by several railroads, if not the entire industry. This slow process involves considerable second-guessing by other railroads and brings any innovation down to the least common denominator level. The committee approach to creativity stifles many new ideas in the railroad industry.

The burden of proof traditionally has been upon those desiring change, so many worthwhile ideas have been denied a trial in the rail marketplace. The new structure would promote innovation by opening the roadway network to any carrier. As long as basic safety standards were met, any commercial concept would be fair game for the competitive marketplace. New ideas could be tried easily with complete freedom to fail or to succeed.

The market would reward those carriers which met shipper needs; carriers which ignored shipper needs could not survive. Innovation would be imperative, not optional. New ideas, once proven, would be quickly accepted and move all competitors ahead. Improvements in efficiency would prompt other carriers to follow suit, thereby lowering prices and

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Railroads, the Free Enterprise Alternative
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • New Titles From Quorum Books ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Tables xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - Development of The Railway 3
  • Notes 6
  • 2 - A Product of Necessity 9
  • Notes 13
  • 3 - Degrees Of Standardization 15
  • Notes 18
  • 4 - Changing Times, 4 Changing Needs 19
  • Notes 31
  • Appendix To Chapter 4 Tables 1-4 33
  • 5 - For Everyone Else: The Typical Transportation Industry Structure 41
  • Notes 53
  • 6 - Railroad Industry Structure 55
  • Notes 65
  • 7 - Aspects of Joint Use 67
  • Notes 73
  • 8 - Aspects of Innovation 75
  • Notes 87
  • 9: Economics And Structure 91
  • Appendix To Chapter 9 109
  • 10 - In Theory, in Congress 113
  • Notes 124
  • 11 - A Proposal 127
  • 12 - Roadway Companies 131
  • 13 - Carrier Companies 147
  • Notes 161
  • 14 - Terminals 163
  • 15 - Regulation 173
  • Notes 181
  • 16 - Opportunity For Innovation 183
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix To Chapter 16 Service Alternatives For Short-Haul Traffic 195
  • 17 - The Promise And The Prospects 199
  • Notes 204
  • 18 - A Logical Conclusion 207
  • Notes 210
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 221
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