The Penn Central, NYC, PRR, NH, & Conrail- one topic I’m really familiar with is the Penn Central Railroad. I’ve written extensively on this subject for some years, and even have another website dedicated to this railroad. Although there were many people who despised that railroad, it still played a very important part of keeping America’s economy flowing, regardless of its mis-haps. Those of us in the younger generations appreciate the PC for what it was, and the very wide range of modeling that can be done with it.
The PC was the joining of the New York Central, Pennsylvania, and later the New Haven Railroads. The NYC & PRR were joined in 1968, and the NH in 1969. The NYC and PRR were great competitors originally, with parallel routes. The NH was considered mostly a passenger road, with some TOFC trains, and the PC did not want to include them in their merger. However the ICC required them to take in the NH, if they wanted the ICC to approve the PC merger in the first place.
The new PC at the time seemed like it was going to work in the beginning, then hard times came. Unfortunately many factors happened, which caused the merger to fail in 1970. Factors were corrupt management, investments spread too wide, government regulations on rates that the railroad was allowed to charge to its customers, competition with trucks and air, deferred maintenance of facilities, tracks, and equipment, weather-related catastrophes (hurricanes, floods, severe winters, etc.), lack of freight cars, locomotives, and cabooses, parallel routes, and the government not allowing the railroads to abandon older secondary routes not needed by the railroads throughout the country.
Many would say that the PC was the only railroad merger in the States to have paralleled routes that failed or plagued with problems, and the only railroad to have dirty and run-down equipment, loosing money everyday, bad track, and corruption. But history and many good sources say that was not the case. Many US railroad mergers and companies, especially in the Midwest and East were in the same trouble. In fact, the ONLY Class 1 railroad that had fewer problems, especially during this time was the Santa Fe. Also the only merger that actually worked with fewer problems was the NS merger between the N&W and SOU later in the 1980s!
Finally the government had to step in to help, or an economic catastrophe was on the way. Conrail was formed and took over the PC, EL, RDG, LV, & CNJ- all that were in the same situations as the PC. CR grew a profit in the 1980s, and was taken over by NS & CSX in the late 1990s.
The PC is a favorite to many in modeling, studying, photo collecting, and more. They had many paint scheme variations, colors, equipment types, unique colors, great facilties, yards, and more. The PC was not a separate company that came and took over the NYC, PRR, and NH- they were simply the combining of these roads, just under a new name. And some say the PC lived on even under CR, since most of CR’s operations, tracks, equipment, personnel were PC. These days the PC is getting more difficult to see, as equipment is being replaced, things changed, etc. May the PC live on!
DVDs to check out:
-You can see some history about the PC on Revelation’s Penn Central DVD HERE. Just one of many PC DVDs out there that has material the others do not have.
-Also a DVD about the NYC (by Revelation) HERE
-Many great DVDs with CONRAIL can be found in Keith’s Trains Series™ HERE
(Sources one should read that backup these facts are: Wreck Of The Penn Central, Merging Lines, Penn Central Power, just to name a few!)
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