Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Historically, the Traffic Department encompassed all the commercial functions of Southern Pacific. This included sales, service and pricing, both freight and passenger. The senior executive Traffic Department officers were, respectively, the Vice President of System Freight Traffic and the Vice President of System Passenger Traffic. Both had their offices in San Francisco. The Vice President System Freight Traffic also had an Assistant Vice President immediately under him.

On the Pacific Lines, there were then four Freight Traffic Managers, one Manager, and five Agents:

  • FTM in Charge of Rates and Divisions, San Francisco
  • FTM Southern District, Los Angeles
  • FTM Central District, San Francisco
  • FTM Northern District, Portland
  • Manager, Perishable Freight Traffic, San Francisco
  • General Freight Agent, Phoenix
  • General Freight Agent, El Paso
  • General Agent, Merchandise Traffic, San Francisco
  • Foreign Freight Agent, San Francisco
  • Freight Claim Agent, San Francisco

The Pacific Lines also had the following passenger managers:

  • General Passenger Agent, Northern District, Portland
  • General Passenger Agent, Central District, Oakland
  • General Passenger Agent, San Francisco District, San Francisco
  • General Passenger Agent, Southern District, Los Angeles
  • General Passenger Agent, Arizona District, Phoenix
  • General Passenger Agent, New Mexico District, El Paso
  • General Advertising Manager, San Francisco
  • General Baggage Agent, San Francisco

On the T&NO, there were the following Freight Traffic Managers and Agents:

  • Freight Traffic Manager, Houston
  • Three Assistant Freight Traffic Managers, Houston
  • General Freight Agent, Central District, Houston
  • General Freight Agent, Northern District, Dallas
  • General Freight Agent, Western District, El Paso
  • General Freight Agent, Eastern District, New Orleans
  • General Agent, Merchandise Traffic
  • Live Stock Agent, San Antonio
  • Freight Claim Agent, Houston

The T&NO Passenger Traffic group included:

  • Passenger Traffic Manager, Houston
  • Assistant Passenger Traffic Manager, Houston
  • Assistant General Passenger Agent, Houston
  • General Baggage, Mail and Express Agent, Houston
  • General Passenger Agent, Western District, El Paso
  • General Passenger Agent, Eastern District, New Orleans
  • District Passenger Agent, San Antonio

In addition to the Pacific Lines and T&NO commercial officers, there were the following “Eastern” traffic officers. They represented both the Pacific Lines and the T&NO:

  • General Traffic Manager, Chicago
  • Freight Traffic Manager, Chicago
  • Passenger Traffic Manager, Chicago
  • Freight Traffic Manager, New York
  • General Eastern Freight Agent, New York
  • General Western Freight Agent, Chicago
  • Passenger Traffic Manager, New York
  • Freight Claim Agent, Houston

Assisting the commercial officers were no less than 31 off-line and 64 on-line traffic offices in every important city nationwide, and every significant passenger stop on-line. There were City Ticket Offices In Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, and New York, and agencies in Mexico, D F, Monterrey and Vancouver. The SP de Mexico Had its own Vice President of Traffic in Guadalajara, along with a Traffic Manager, General Freight and Passenger Agent, Assistant General Freight Agent, Assistant General Passenger Agent, a Freight Claim Agent and a Car Superintendent.  Not bad for the orphan of the Southern Pacific Empire.  This was significant staffing considering that the SP de Mexico annual revenue paled in comparison with those

The commercial officers in the two General Offices were responsible for pricing, rates and divisions, for strategic commercial planning (including decisions to purchase freight and passenger rolling stock) and for commercial agreements with connecting carriers. These officers also involved with any regulatory cases or issues (with entities such as former the Interstate Commerce Commission) involving commercial activities. As responsibilities trickled down the Traffic Department structure, the emphasis became increasingly focused on sales, since policy was set by senior officers. But the large number of offices and agents meant that most of the sales effort was person-to person contact – the classic  depot ticket agent dealing with a known and local customer.

In the General Office team, a lot of commercial statistics were constantly gathered, many of which were routinely passed to the in-house Bureau of Transportation Research so that contribution margins could be tracked. This process antedated the creation of a formal Marketing Department by many years.




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