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COST FIGURES FOR OVERLOADED VEHICLES.
 With reference to your Tables of Operating Costs, can you help me on one or two points?
Our fleet is composed chiefly of vehicles of 2i-ton unladen weight. I will give three examples :
(a) A 5i-ton Albion, u.w. 2-1 tons, which is continually carrying loads of 7 tons.
(b) A 3-ton Bedford, u.w. 2i tons, which is continually carrying loads of 6 tons.
(c) A 2-ton Commer, u.w. 2 tons, which is continually carrying loads of 4-5 tons.
Referring to your Tables 1 and 2, under which heading do these three vehicles come?
Another point I do not understand. In Table 1 you have allowed 128. as a weekly portion for licences for a 2-tonner. Estimating a year of 50 weeks, this comes to a total of £30 per annum for a 2-tonner, whilst the nominal amount for same is £25 per annum. Will you
explain this point to me? PUZZLED. Cardiff.
[The headings of each column in The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs, relate to the loads carried by the vehicles to which the figures in those columns apply. It is assumed, however, that the vehicle normally does not carry a load appreciably in excess of the manufacturer's guarantee. In the three examples cited in your letter of inquiry, all of them carry loads approximately 11. tons
in excess of that. Under normal loading, as defined above, the Albion and the Bedford would be found to come under the heading 4 or 5 tons, according to the weight of the bodies. (In your case, say, 5 tons.) The Commer, similarly under the heading of 3 tons. It is quite impossible to allow, in tables such as these, for vehicles which are habitually overloaded to the extent indicated in your letter, As regards the point you raise, concerning the citation, in the Tables, of the tax of 12s. per week in connection with 2-ton vehicles. It is a fact that the majority of vehicles coming within that category weigh in excess of the 2 tons unladen.—ED.1
A CURIOUS " LOG-SHEET " CASE.
 We shall be extremely obliged if you will let us have your opinion on the under-mentioned case.
We have been summoned to appear before a local court on the following charge : "Being the holders of a licence under Part 1 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act 1933, did unlawfully fail to cause a current record to be kept as respects being a person employed by you as driver of an authorized vehicle to wit
, We operate vehicles under a C licence, and in this case our driver had taken in his old vehicle and brought out a new one, which was loaded with scrap material which we had purchased from the suppliers of the new vehicle. He was stopped by police and the production of his log sheet was demanded, our driver said he had not got it with him, whereas, in actual fact, he had. He did not produce it owing to the fact that he thought he would get into trouble as the log sheet showed the number of the old vehicle he had taken in an hour or so before, and he did not think the same log sheet could be used with the new vehicle.
We are not aware that we could be prosecuted in these cikumstances, as our drivers are given a weekly log sheet for finishing work at Saturday mid-day, which covers the whole of the next week, and the strictest instructions are given to the men to comply in every way with the law on the matter, and to fill up the sheet as they do each load. It is, of course, impossible for us to go with vehicles to see that each load is booked.
The alleged offence was committed on April 10 and the summons served on June 22. Is there not some time limit on the serving of a summons?
[The licence holder is automatically responsible for the acts of his servants, but many magistrates are taking the view that when the holder does everything in his power to see that a driver keeps his records in accordance with the regulations, it is unfair to punish him, and, in some instances, quite small penalties are inflicted. In this case it appears that your driver made merely a technical error, although he was rather foolish not to have stated the facts at the time. It would be advisable for you to write to the Clerk to the Magistrates, putting forward the full facts of the case; you can do little, if anything, more than this. The question of the delay in serving the summons does not apply in cases of this nature.—Eo.1
THE JIG-SAW PUZZLE OF RAILWAY RATES.
 I am intrigued by the letter from my good friend, Mr. Walter Gammons, published last week in The Commercial Motor, and I suggest that there is no better or fairer authority on this question of railway rates and classification.
My first experience of the amazing jig-saw puzzle was when, in 1922, I. took over management of a large commercial fleet mainly engaged in long-distance haulage and very much in competition with the railways. To maintain our various services, it was my business to continue the policy of quoting below .par when doing so constituted the final argument. Often it was compelled and induced by the attitude of those offering the traffic, and in this respect there has been practically no change. Let me assure you, however, that we had other inducements, such as those hoary and well-tried arguments regarding door-to-door carriage and light packing, that often carried the day.
Those were the times when road transport was enjoying a measure of success that proved its ultimate undoing. Incidentally, others like myself had at their elbow a most useful book, published, if my memory be correct, in Birmingham, which proved an easy index to a classification that was not nearly so complicated as it is to-day. Despite this aid for the uninitiated, railways' rates induced the fevered brow. I visited a large firm engaged in the manufacture of confectionery and found their experts floundering in a veritable sea of doubt and bewilderment, although the firm had been, for many years, despatching daily throughout the world hundreds of tons, representing thousands of consignments.
Later, it was my good fOrtune to have as partner a gentleman who had, besides the experience gained as transport manager with a firm of world-wide repute, that which he had gained in the goods department of the Great Western Railway. To him this clas.sification was no mystery, because he knew the inner workings and because he had at one time developed the particular complex natural to such surroundings.
We were in business as advisers on transport costs and his side of it was, naturally, in relation to the forwarding of merchandise by rail. In one instance, he showed a manufacturer how the distribution of a mechanical contrivance in an unassembled form would bring it within a lower classification; he gave advice to confectionery friends with regard to bulking and packing, that resulted in a substantial economy; he initiated correspondence -between another firm and the railways that ended in the admission of their goods to a lower classification.
In each instance, his advice undoubtedly meant the saving of hundreds of pounds per annum to which, I contend, the railways had no right. It might also be suggested that the railway representatives nursing this traffic should have anticipated my partner's advice and counsel. So satisfied were our clients that they willingly paid 10 guineas for services that sometimes did not exceed an afternoon's work on our part.
To my mind, a highly provocative feature of railway classification is in respect of the method of packing goods. Certain specifications are laid down with the implied threat that, should they be ignored, the satisfactory settlement of claims would be in doubt. As regards fiberite and similar containers, these specifications appear to have no relation to the nature of the goods packed therein.
Sometime ago, a certain factory decided to ignore such specifications in favour of lighter cartons, by which they would save in cost and freight. At first there was much argument and a threat that the future acceptance of goods would be definitely qualified. The factory's output was considerable and its associations powerful and I have still to learn of substantial claims arising from this traffic being consistently disputed.
During my management of commercial fleets, I have encountered more than one anomaly in railway rating. For example, we operated a service to Colchester and, in due course, contemplated its extension to Ipswich. We discovered that, for certain goods in which we were interested, the rate to Colchester was one with which we could easily and economically compete, whereas to Ipswich the situation was precisely the reverse. To Ipswich, the railway company was in direct competition with coastwise shipping and had, therefore, to act accordingly. Incidentally, I have never known a haulier able to under-cut rates offered by the shipping fraternity.
In considering the whole question of rates, it seems to me that all this regulating of transport operation must simplify the position. Surely it will compel, in time, the elimination of those whose only ability to under-cut has been their blind or wilful avoidance of elemental necessities and facts. Supposing that, as control is to-day, you and I are in competition as providers of transport for the carriage of, more or less, 1340 • the same class of goods over the same territory. We are equally bound down by regulations as regards
operation. You, the better man, buy in the right market and carry out your type of operation more astutely. You appreciate the principle of mass production by relating it to the policy of small profits and quick returns. Your system of maintenance and service is standardized to an economic degree_ Why on earth, therefore, should you not be allowed to sell that service cheaper than I, the commercial inept, am able to. If I am saddled with liabilities of which you are free, is that any logical reason why my higher tariff should be produced as an illustration of your "
criminal" disposition to cut rates. "
Rates specialists, such as S.T.R., are most careful to avoid hard-and-fast conclusions; Their estimates of operating costs apply to the average haulier and the average conditions and are sufficiently sound to err on the right side.. With the manufacturers of commercial motor vehicles this is usually and very naturally contrariwise, because as optimists and enthusiasts they have faith in their products not always justified when those products are subjected to the attention of drivers and mechanics below par or. are employed under conditions that place undue strain on engine, gears, springs and
chassis. E. H. B. PALMER. , London, S.W.1.
THIS PLATING PROBLEM.
1154291 I was more than pleased to note that my letter of July 29, which was written in reference to your very able leader of July 22 on the above subject, has brought forth a reply.
• Unfortunately, it would appear that the same apathy displayed by the industry during the sitting of the Salter Committee is still with us, and that our Government will be allowed, without protest, to inaugurate a new system of taxation, which will undoubtedly be to the disadvantage of the road-haulage operators, and particularly those whose livelihood depends upon this.
The present system was inaugurated in 1920, i.e., 18 years ago, and presumably any new system which will be adopted will last for at least the same period again, and it will perpetuate the present unfair system of taxation under which the operator, and especially the haulage contractor, now labours.
In reply to Mr. McDowall's letter, I think.I should refer first to the last three paragraphs, as I agree with him entirely, that a tax on fuel would have a closer
relation to earning capacity. As, however, fuel is already heavily taxed, and additional means for obtaining revenue must be found, we must endeavour to get this additional taxation levied in the fairest possible way.
To return to the early part of the letter, and Mr. McDowall's criticisms, it will be noted that I stated that a weight should be allowed for the driver which is equal to the average weight put forward by the "powers that be" in the passenger regulations. I appreciate that during the lifetime of the vehicles they gather weight, and perhaps, after the machines have aged a little, it would be permissible to increase the gross weight to cover this.
With regard to the question of the weight of the payload, surely this is a matter for the manufacturer to take care of. If his containers and so forth increase in weight from time to time, he will need to pay the operator on the actual weight of the load, plus the containers actually carried on the vehicle.
H Guildford. H. LESTER.