Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Damage Prevention and Loading Services

The damage prevention and loading services department is a part of the operating department.  Its purpose is to eliminate or reduce damage to freight moved in rail service and assist shippers in proper packaging, loading, blocking, and bracing of freight to ensure delivery to consignees in good condition.  The manager of the department reports to the general managers.  The headquarters and largest portion of the staff is located in San Francisco where most of the statistical analyses and administrative efforts or centralized.  The department also has offices in Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, and East St. Louis.

To contain or reduce freight claim payout (Southern Pacific’s payouts was $18,616,670 in 1972; $18,084,000 in 1973; $20,881,529 in 1974; $21,573,042 in 1975; and $17,861,720 in 1976, with a ratio to revenue of 1.69, 1.55, 1.61, 1.74, and 1.28, respectively) requires that Southern Pacific’s loading specialists be in the field working with shippers and keeping abreast of any changes such as new products, packaging methods, and material handling equipment.  Statistical analysis is made quarterly of all freight claim payments by commodity groups to protect against undetected increased freight claim payout in any particular area.

Switching performance is constantly monitored by use of radar devices and by routing impact registers at terminals having less than desired performance, enabling operating officers to provide corrective actions.

The monitoring of perishable schedule performance is done monthly and results provided to division superintendents in an effort to improve Southern Pacific’s on-time performance, which has a direct impact on perishable claim payments.

All salvageable freight resulting from damaged lading abandoned to Southern Pacific is sold through salvage offices within this department.  Such sales total about $3,500,000.

The department sends its representatives to all major derailments to assist in the transfer of ladings at the sites and to determine the most advantageous salvage proceeds.

The manager of the department is a member of the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) National Prevention Committee.  A number of other officers of the department are on various committees of the AAR and the Pacific Coast Claim Conference to develop better packing, uniform loading rules, practices, and procedures involving virtually every commodity shipped by railroad companies today.


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