The dark-walled, courtlike hearing room on the eleventh floor of the Interstate Commerce Commission building in Washington normally seats 200 spectators. Last week, however, 500 rail executives, lawyers, traffic experts, clerks, shippers, statisticians and newshawks jostled and crowded their way into this chamber to witness the opening of the biggest railroad rate case in a decade. The thermometer outside on Pennsylvania Ave. stood at 98°. Everyone was in his shirtsleeves and a frank sweat. The mahogany paint melted from the metal chairs, stained many a pair of linen trousers. On the...

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