1. A decree of the District Court annulled and enjoined the
enforcement of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission
authorizing the abandonment of trackage, on the ground that the
trackage in question was a "spur" within par. 22 of the Interstate
Commerce Act and that the order therefore was not within the
authority of the Commission. Held,
that the decree was
based on findings amply supported by the evidence. P. 298 U. S.
2. Upon the question whether trackage is a "spur," an order of
the Commission adjudging it not so and permitting abandonment
Page 298 U. S. 106
not conclusive, even though based on substantial evidence, but
is subject to judicial review. P. 298 U. S.
3 Although the better practice in such cases is to introduce all
relevant evidence before the Commission, new evidence upon the
question whether the trackage is a "spur" -- mixed question of law
and fact -- may be received by the District Court in a suit to set
aside the order permitting abandonment. P. 298 U. S.
4. In a suit to set aside for error or irregularity an order of
the Interstate Commerce Commission on a matter within its
jurisdiction, the United States is the only party named as
defendant; others become parties by intervention. P. 298 U. S.
5. A suit against the United States, the Interstate Commerce
Commission, and a railroad company to enjoin the abandonment of
trackage under an order allowing it made by the Commission in
excess of its jurisdiction, .and also to annul the order,
properly brought in the three-judge District Court,
and the decree appealable to this Court directly. P. 298 U. S.
10 F. Supp. 71 affirmed.
Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges
setting aside and enjoining action under a certificate of the
Interstate Commerce Commission purporting to permit a railroad
company to abandon certain trackage. The suit was brought against
the United States, the Commission, and the railroad company, as
Page 298 U. S. 107
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Interstate Commerce Act provides in paragraph 18 of § 1 that
no interstate carrier
"shall abandon all or any portion of a line of railroad, or the
operation thereof, unless and until there shall first have been
obtained from the [Interstate Commerce] Commission a certificate
that the present or future public convenience and necessity permit
of such abandonment."
Paragraph 22 provides that the "authority of the commission"
conferred by paragraph 18 shall not extend to the "abandonment of
spur, industrial, team, switching, or side tracks, located . . .
wholly within one State." Transportation Act 1920, c. 91, § 402, 41
Stat. 456, 477, 478. Compare Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v.
Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 270 U.
; Texas & New Orleans R. Co. v. Northside
Belt Ry. Co., 276 U. S. 475
The Oregon Short Line Railroad, an interstate carrier, owns 9
miles of track in Teton County, Idaho, known as the Talbot branch,
and extending to a coal mine at Talbot. It applied to the
Interstate Commerce Commission for authority to abandon that
trackage. The state intervened through its Attorney General and
Public Utilities Commission. They objected, among other things, on
the ground that the Interstate Commerce Commission was without
jurisdiction, since the so-called Talbot branch was in fact a
"spur" or "industrial track" located wholly within the state. The
objection was overruled, and authority to abandon the trackage was
granted by Division 4. Oregon Short Line Railroad Company
Abandonment, 193 I.C.C. 697.
The state and its Public Utilities Commission then brought this
suit in the federal court for Utah against the
Page 298 U. S. 108
United States, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the
Oregon Short Line, a Utah corporation, praying that the order
authorizing abandonment be set aside, and other relief. The case
was heard before three judges. The sole controversy was whether the
trackage was a "spur" or "industrial track," and therefore excluded
from the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The
record made before the Commission was introduced in evidence; also
some testimony "which merely amplified evidence already in the
record." The court found, among other things:
(1) The trackage was constructed during the period of federal
control by the United States Railroad Administration, pursuant to a
contract with the owners of coal mines situated at Talbot, for the
single purpose of serving them. The owners agreed to furnish the
right of way and to pay part of the cost of construction, and they
agreed also that the railroad might tear up the tracks on their
failure to supply for transportation a minimum specified tonnage.
For a period of four years after construction, no rail
transportation was maintained, because of litigation involving the
(2) In 1924, on application of the coal company, the Public
Utilities Commission of Idaho, over objection of the Oregon Short
Line that it lacked jurisdiction, held that the line was a spur
track. It ordered the railroad to repair and operate it upon
receiving from the coal company a bond conditioned upon the
company's delivering a specified minimum coal tonnage each year for
five years. The railroad complied with the order. Subsequently it
procured a judgment on the bond for breach of the condition.
(3) The Oregon Short Line has never maintained a train schedule
or regular service over this trackage; has never furnished express,
passenger, or mail service; has maintained no buildings, loading
platforms, or agent at
Page 298 U. S. 109
any point along the trackage, and has had no telegraph or
telephone line in connection therewith. Bills of lading for cars of
coal are made out by the mine company. There are practically no
shipments in the opposite direction; the few supplies for the mine
being sent up in the empty coal cars when ordered.
The District Court concluded that the Talbot branch was
constructed and has been maintained for the purpose of serving a
single industry; that practically no other industry is served; that
this trackage does not invade new territory; that its continued
operation or abandonment is of local, and not of national, concern;
that it is therefore a "spur;" and hence, that the order of the
Interstate Commerce Commission was in excess of its jurisdiction.
The court annulled the order and enjoined its enforcement. 10 F.
The decree should be affirmed because, on findings amply
supported by the evidence, the trackage is a spur. Appellants
object that, since the findings and order of the Interstate
Commerce Commission were made on substantial evidence, they are
conclusive, and that it was error to admit the testimony first
offered in the District Court. Compare Tagg Bros. &
Moorhead v. United States, 280 U. S. 420
280 U. S. 444
Although it would have been better practice to have introduced all
relevant evidence before the Commission, as appellee's counsel
concede, the court did not err in admitting the additional
testimony. For whether certain trackage is a "spur" is a mixed
question of fact and law left by Congress to the decision of a
court, not to the final determination of either the federal or a
This suit is not one brought to set aside for error or
irregularity an order of the Commission on a matter within its
jurisdiction. In such a proceeding, the United States is the only
party named as defendant; others interested become parties by
Page 298 U. S. 110
Court Act, June 18, 1910, c. 309, § 3, 36 Stat. 539, 542, Urgent
Deficiencies Act, October 22, 1913, c. 32, 38 Stat. 208, 219. Here,
the jurisdiction of that Commission was challenged. It and the
Oregon Short Line were joined as defendants in the original bill.
Paragraph 20 of § 1 of the Interstate Commerce Act authorizes any
party in interest to apply to "any court of competent jurisdiction"
to enjoin an unauthorized abandonment, and if, on such application,
Talbot branch should be held to be a spur, it could not be
abandoned legally without the consent of the Public Utilities
Commission of Idaho. It is only because the plaintiffs sought also
to have the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission annulled
(compare Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v. Gulf, C. & S.F. Ry.
Co., 270 U. S. 266
270 U. S.
-274), that the case was one for three judges, and
could be brought here by direct appeal under the Act of October 22,
1913, c. 32, 38 Stat. 208, 220.