locked Re: ICC valuation

Kevin Centers


Of course you know I find this topic marginally interesting since it’s how I earned my living for a while. I’m going to add a little more dryness to the pot if that’s ok.
To shed a little more light on the V03/ER column, ICC accounts were/are broken down into sub accounts when there is a material differentiation in asset types and depreciation. So railroads today account for freight cars in ICC 53, but break them out between major car types since plain gons wouldn’t have the same life as an equipped 50’ equipped box, for example.
It should be noted that until 1982, railroads practiced betterment accounting. So if an asset was improved - 85# rail replaced with 100# rail for instance - there would not be a retirement of the 85# rail and only the differential between the two would be capitalized. As a result A’s and B’s are really important. Thankfully that process is no longer used and assets are retired as they are replaced, not just made better.


On Apr 2, 2021, at 10:13 AM, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@bellsouth.net> wrote:

It’s important to understand there are multiple ICC reports than can provide quite detailed history on a railroad’s rolling stock and fixed plant. I’ve uploaded four examples* to Google Drive (the uploaded page sequence is different) at:


Item 1 Period from 1916-7-1 to 27-12-3, Southern Railway Account 53, Freight Cars.
ICC Form 1742 shows the initial inventory as prepared from the Date of the ICC Valuation Order (VO) until the initial valuations was to have been completed 12-31-27. Even then, the work was not done. The 1742s were sent to the ICC to be approved. There was a lot of back-and-forth between the roads and the ICC to get to final valuations. The goal of the exercise was to establish a railroad cost basis to establish rates, ROI, etc, so potentially inflated values would skew later rate calculations. There were apparently court cases and the ICC did not finalize and accept the Southern valuations until about 1932.

Sheet 13 includes a page of “plain” box cars built in 1915.
The range of dates showing cars destroyed and “A&Bs” (Additions and Betterments) show changes from the time of Valuation Order 3 in 1916 and when the final report had to be submitted in 1927. The car series road numbers, descriptions, capy., car builder and cost are usually included. Individual car numbers may/may not be broken out but cars (in this example) that were destroyed before 1927 are excluded from the 1-1-1928 inventory at the bottom of the sheet. A&Bs are typically do not show individual car numbers.

The last column is complicated but potentially very useful. Each group of similar (but not necessarily from the same carbuilder or order) were assigned either a “VO3” or “ER” (Engineering Report) Group number. That number was used to identify cars from the group through out their service lives.

Sheet 7 (1 of 2 pages) covers the same valuation study period for a different group of cars that had valuations changed by A&Bs but many were destroyed before 1927. Note at the bottom, the number of cars from this group that were “Destroyed”, “Renewed” or “Transferred” are shown. “Renewed” may (!) refer to a complete rebuild but in many cases it refers to the application of a steel underframe (SUF) or new roof. Although individual car numbers may/may not be shown, subsequent change forms (following sheets) can give a picture of the entire series.

Sheet 37 is another example page with many A&Bs shown. “Converted” refers to a car that was changed to another ICC Account code. That shows as a double entry in the valuations, first as it left its original account (53 is revenue freight cars) and then as it was eneted in the new account, Account 57 is MoW equipment for example. Multiple changes were not uncommon.

GS&F Sheet 1 shows motor vehicles but it is a good example of changes were reflected in the valuations over the years. It is dated June 30, 1962. Updates were to be submitted on every June 30 and December 31. The initial, VO3, or later additions (shown on the change forms) then subsequent updates have to be reviewed to see a car/groups' entire history.

Note: I’ll admit this material only an intro and “dry as a bone” to explain but understood, and taken in their entirety, the ICC Valuation records are among the best information available. The copies in the SRHA archives were kept by the Southern with the originals sent to the ICC. All (most?) of them for every railroad reside in a warehouse in MD and can be reviewed.

Note 2: I’ve thought this would not be the most interesting presentation to many people but I’ve considered proposing the subject for a session at the CCB RPM. That’s still possible if there is enough interest??


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