Rushed By Railway Express Agency Bag Tag
Rushed By Railway Express Agency
In its peak, Railway Express Agency employed over 45,000 people in 23,000 offices and operated over 190,000 miles of railway lines. In addition, 14,000 miles of shipping lines, 91,000 miles of air routings and 15,00 miles of trucking lines were travelled by REA shipments. Seventeen thousand trucks, in conjunction with the above, handled over 300,000 separate shipments daily, ranging from small packages to carload-size lots. Railway Express Agency or REA, as it was known, used one of the largest fleet of trucks; owned and leased as many railroad cars as some of the largest railroad companies, yet was not a railroad in itself. In the 1950s, green trucks would race out onto the aprons of airports, to waiting DC-6 airliners with shipments of “Overnight Air.”
Through the 1940s, Railway Express, with long strings of green refrigerator cars, would also haul oranges up from Florida to northeastern cities.
Previously, in 1927, the airlines in the U.S. had started scheduled operations. An air-express service was formed modelled on the railroads’ American Railway Express. By the eve of World War II, second-morning service was being provided from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Overnight service was offered between such points as New York and Chicago. REA functioned as a single entity to the customer, due to its contracts with the airlines and vast network of truck and rail depots. Until 1975, REA did it all. The close-knit cooperation between Railway Express Agency (and the Post Office) and the railroads served as a prelude to today’s express operations run by United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx, DHL and others, in their air-express services.