North East Rails
Railway Express Agency
Per Jack Nienhaus W9NJB@ARRL.net:
REX 4037 was one of fifty express refrigerator cars owned by the Santa Fe and assigned to the express pool. These cars were wide and restricted east of Harrisburg on the PRR as they would not fit through the New York tunnels. Once one got through in error and did a lot of damage to platforms and to the car itself before the train was stopped.
Railway Express Agency was a unique operation and under definition was not in the same category as a railroad or truckline. The ICC had rules of operation that pertained only to "express companies" and after the consolidation of express companies during WWI American Railway Express Agency was the only express company. In 1927 the name was changed to Railway Express Agency. In return for a monopoly on the movement of traffic on passenger trains, the express company was obligated to accept any and all shipments destined anywhere in the U.S. At one time they had representatives in 27,000 communities, mostly railroad agents serving as commission agents. For places where they did not provide p/u and dely service and had no representative, shipments were moved to the closest point served and postal cards were sent to the consignees telling them where their shipments were being held on hand for pick up. Shipper's Guides and tariffs would refer to these places as "waybill to" points. This was not an ideal situation for a shipper, but the number of shipments was small. UPS has limitations on what it will handle such as size and contents. REA had to take everything including hazardous material and Class A,B &C explosives. REA was saddled with a lot of undesirable traffic that truck lines would not handle, such as auto mufflers & Class A,B &C explosives. REA handled carloads of cattle, race horses, and trainloads of fruits and vegetables. Carloads of radioactive material were moved on regular schedules for the Atomic Energy Commission. There was practically nothing that was not handled at one time or another including circus animals.
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