An order of a state public service commission requiring an
interstate railroad to detour two of its through passenger trains
from its main line over a branch for the benefit of a small city
already adequately served by local connecting trains held
void as an undue burden on interstate commerce. P. 254 U. S.
277 Mo. 264 reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Plaintiff in error's main line extends from St. Louis to Memphis
-- 305 miles. As originally constructed, it turned sharply
southeastward at Hayti, Missouri -- 220 miles from St. Louis -- ran
thence seven miles to Caruthersville, a city of 4,000 people,
thence southwestward nine miles to Grassy Bayou, and thence south.
A "cut-off" between Hayti and Grassy Bayou -- six miles -- became
part of the main line in 1904, and thereafter through freight and
night passenger trains passed that way. The through day passenger
trains -- Nos. 801 and 802 -- continued to
Page 254 U. S. 536
move along the old line until August, 1913, when they were
routed over the "cut-off." At the same time, two new daily
passenger trains were put on and operated between Blytheville,
Arkansas, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, by way of
The Missouri Public Service Commission directed the railway
company to restore trains 801 and 802 to the route followed prior
to 1913, and the state supreme court approved this action. We are
asked to declare the order invalid because it unduly burdens
interstate commerce. The point is well taken.
Fourteen local daily passenger trains move in and out of
Caruthersville -- seven each way. Some of these make close
connections with all through trains at Hayti. These locals do not
carry equipment of the highest class, but apparently they afford
fair facilities for reaching and leaving Caruthersville without
serious delay or great inconvenience. If deficient in schedule or
equipment, there is an easy remedy by means other than detours of
the through trains.
The applicable general doctrine has been often considered, and
in Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Ry. Co. v. Wisconsin R. Co.
Commission, 237 U. S. 220
237 U. S. 226
this Court said:
"In reviewing the decision, we may start with certain principles
as established: (1) it is competent for a state to require adequate
local facilities, even to the stoppage of interstate trains or the
rearrangement of their schedules; (2) such facilities existing --
that is, the local conditions being adequately met -- the
obligation of the railroad is performed, and the stoppage of
interstate trains becomes an improper and illegal interference with
interstate commerce; (3) and this whether the interference be
directly by the legislature or by its command through the orders of
an administrative body; (4) the fact of local facilities this Court
may determine, such fact being necessarily involved
Page 254 U. S. 537
in the determination of the federal question whether an order
concerning an interstate train does or does not directly regulate
interstate commerce by imposing an arbitrary requirement.
Gladson v. Minnesota, 166 U. S. 427
; Lake Shore R.
Co. v. Ohio, 173 U. S. 285
Coast Line v. Nor. Car. Corp. Comm'n, 206 U. S. 1
Mo. P. Ry. v. Kansas, 216 U. S. 262
etc., Ry. v. Illinois, 177 U. S. 514
R. Co. Comm'n v. Ill. Cent. R. Co., 203 U. S.
; Atlantic Coast Line v. Wharton,
207 U. S.
Considering the facts disclosed, we think it plain that the
fourteen local passenger trains meet the reasonable requirements of
Caruthersville, and that the commission's order unduly burdens
interstate commerce. Compliance with it would require the railway
to maintain sixteen more miles of track at the high standard
essential for the through trains, and to move the latter ten miles
further, with consequent delay and inconveniences all along the
line. The burden certainly would not be less serious than those
which were condemned in some if not all of the causes above
The judgment of the court below must be reversed, and the cause
remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this
MR. JUSTICE PITNEY and MR. JUSTICE CLARKE dissent.