TONIGHT, I propose, as far as our human frailty will permit, to speak without prejudice. I think I am in a position to do so; and when I say this I say it not only on behalf of The Baldwin Locomotive Works, but on behalf of the three recognized locomotive builders in this country. Each of us has the engineering brains and the manufacturing ability to build any kind of a thing that moves on wheels. We build a number of different products, and we are not in the position of having to recommend any particular product for uses and purposes for which it is not well designed. Each of us is in a position where, when a client comes to us and wishes the benefit of our knowledge in developing what his policy should be, we want to give that client sound and intelligent advice free from the fads and fancies of any given moment—advice that ten or fifteen years from now he will have been glad to have received and acted on. And it is from this point of view that I propose to talk. Now it was only about thirty years ago that the railroads in the United States were just about to be completely electrified. Yet today, as we approach the completion of the greatest single electrification in the history of American railroads, I do not think I am giving away any secret when I say that the expectations of our big electrical companies with regard to future railroad electrification are not very sanguine. Certainly I give up no secret when I say that from a plain dollars and cents point of view the steam locomotive today is a more serious competitor with electrification than it was thirty years ago.
Today we are having quite a ballyhoo about stream-lined, light-weight trains and Diesel locomotives, and it is no wonder if the public feels that the steam locomotive is about to lay
down and play dead. Yet over the years certain simple fundamental principles continue to operate. Some time in the future, when all this is reviewed, we will not find our railroads any more Dieselized than they are electrified, and in each case a substantial portion of those operations will not be based upon what will produce the highest return on the investment, but on aesthetic considerations or compulsion of public bodies.
It was not so long ago that the movie magnates thought it would be a good thing to interest the movie public in the personal lives of the movie stars. And that was all very well for a while, until finally they woke up and found this public trying to dictate what the lives of these stars should be. So when we start out to advertise something, it is a pretty good thing to know that the something that we are advertising today is a something that we are going to want to sell tomorrow. The impressions which are being produced today are going to become the public demands of tomorrow. If those demands are for things which cannot be justified, then we and our friends, the railroads, are going to be faced some time in the future by demands for large additional capital investment on which no economic return can be earned.
Diesel Versus Steam Schedules
A couple of months ago I was out in Kansas City. When I got through my day's work I had a few hours left, and I bethought myself that here the Burlington Zephyr and the first Union Pacific aluminum train were both operated, and so I thought I would go down and look into the matter. I was particularly interested because I had just previously made a