This month, CONRAIL- April 1, 1976, was formed by the US government, to help save the Midwest & Eastern US railroads’ financial problems. For years the roads involved pleaded to the government to help out, but refused, or did little to help matters.
Penn Central for example, went bankrupt in 1970, due to many reasons (computer problems, government rate regulations, bad weather, poor management, poor financial decisions, “red team vs. green team” mentality, the New Haven railroad’s financial problems and the forcing of the NH to be merged into the PC by the ICC, etc.). The PC asked the government for a bail-out, and even made a movie about their problems, to prove to the government. However they refused to help.
The PC’s pleading didn’t go totally un-noticed though. The Nixon administration looked into the problems of the PC, and many other railroads in similar situations, and saw that if nothing was done, it could very well cripple the US economy, due to the railroads being a very important part of economic health in the country.
Conrail was formed under the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, to help bail out these railroads in trouble, by combining them into a merger, and being run by the US government. Even though CR was incorporated in PA, October of 1974, it went into effect on April 1, 1976. The railroads combined to form CR was: Penn Central, Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie-Lackawanna, and Lehigh and Hudson. Even though these railroads were all included in CR, it was much like the Penn Central, only under a different name and paint scheme. This is because the PC part of CR has the most miles of track, equipment, and employees, and most of the operations were run like PC.
CR poured millions into the railroad plant, by repairing track and facilities, purchasing new equipment to replace the old, combining terminals, closing unnecessary routes, etc. By the 1980s, CR was finally making a profit. Stanley Crane, who came from the SOU Railway, and became CEO if CR, helped bring CR out of its financial slump. He used his political connections, high energy, his belief in CR, and his business ideas to help make CR become an important, strong, and independant railroad. By 1987 it was privatized. In 1999, CR was split between Norfolk Southern and CSX.
So this month we remember Conrail and its memories. Today we still see CR on the tracks in freight cars and other thingsMany DVD examples HERE, are available that shows a lot of CR in action. Also thankfully, in 2012, NS painted 8098, a GE ES44AC, into the standard Conrail scheme, as part of their heritage group of locomotives. There is now the CRHS that helps keep CR history preserved as well. Keep CR alive, and take those pictures!One day, it will vanish, just like the PC is now more difficult to see these days. Thankfully, railfans have helped preserve CR during its years of operation.
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