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The World War II experience of the American railroads was characterized by a close relationship between the railroads and the federal government. Unlike in World War I, however, when the railroads were actually operated by the government, the railroads in World War II remained under private control. This reflected President Franklin D. Roosevelt's own preference as well as that of the railroad managers. The railroads faced major problems in World War II. The amount of domestic transportation required was enormous. But highway transportation was restricted during the war by shortages of gasoline and rubber, and coastwise water transportation was restricted by German submarine attacks and need for the ships in overseas transport. Most domestic transportation had to be furnished by the railroads. The railroads had difficulty expanding capacity because the materials necessary for additional equipment and for plant improvements were needed more urgently for military production. The railroads also had trouble maintaining an adequate labor supply during the war because much of their manpower entered military service or moved to higher paying jobs in defense plants.Railroad problems were most pronounced in the West, and the western railroads came closer to failing than the lines in other sections of the country. Nevertheless, the railroads did not fail in the West or elsewhere. The problems were solved by cooperation. The railroads and their organization, the Association of American Railroads, cooperated effectively with the government agencies dealing with transportation, especially the Office of Defense Transportation. The shippers and the traveling public also cooperated by making sacrifices to conserve transportation that they would not have made in peacetime. Although the railroads encountered many problems during World War II, the system of cooperation worked well.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Gerald D. Nash

Second Committee Member

Ferenc M. Szaz

Third Committee Member

William R. Roberts

Fourth Committee Member

Charles E. Woodhouse

Fifth Committee Member

William M. Dabney



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Volume 2 and 3 are available in supplementary files.

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