Tag Archives: N&Wm CP


In this blog we write about American Railroad Mergers that took place in the 20th Century era. Railroads became a profitable form of transportation. But by the 1950s, things were changing. Until the government gave the railroads more power to adjust rates, truck and automobile traffic increased with highways being built, a shifting economy, bad weather, and bad management caused the railroads to lose business and profits.

The Penn Central always got the worst reputation for a failed railroad company, however many of the other railroads were also were going bankrupt, or had their share of troubles in all areas (such as the LV, EL, RDG, C of NJ, L&H, etc.).

Mergers were a result of the hardships, and were suppose to help with their struggles. “Suppose to” is the key here. Although a few actually made sense and worked out in the long-run, most of the mergers that happened from the 1950s-21st Century made little sense, or did not produce the good results they tried to forcast. For example the Burlington Northern and Erie-Lackawanna mergers were parallel line mergers, did not really save the companies money, and were disasters. Their problems were just more hidden, compared to all the publicity the failed Penn Central merger received.

The ICC regulated and granted or denied permissions for all railroad mergers. The ICC later became the Surface Transportation Board (STC). In a lot of cases they denied mergers that would have made sense, and allowed those that resulted in more harm than good.

Below is a list of railroad mergers and the years they happened (bold faced names were the main railroads that took over the added railroad):

-Pere Marquette + C&O
-Erie + Lackawanna = Erie-Lackawanna (1961)
Norfolk & Western + Virginian (1959) + NKP + Wabash (1964) + AC&Y (1970s ) + Illinois Terminal (1980s)
-CB&Q + Great Northern + Northern Pacific = Burlington Northern (1970)
-Pennsylvania + New York Central = Penn Central (1968) + New Haven (1969)
-C&O + B&O + Wester Maryland = Chessie System (1972)
-Southern Pacific + Rio Grande  (They continued to use the SP name however)
Union Pacific + Southern Pacific + C&NW + MP
-Illinois Central + Gulf Mobile & Ohio = ICG
-Lehigh Valley + EL + Reading + CNJ + PC = Conrail (1976)
Conrail + CSX / Conrail + NS (1999)
-N&W + Southern = Norfolk Southern (1982)
-Chessie System + Seaboard System = CSX (1986)
-L&N + Seaboard Coast Line = Seaboard System/Family Lines
-BN + ATSF = BNSF (1990s)
Rock Island was the only railroad that was left to fail with no help.  Later all assets were dived up between the UP & C&NW.
-SOO Line + CP
-GT + CV + CN

Which mergers were failures, and which mergers were winners?  All mergers had their share of problems.  The BN merger was not a great as most have thought.  They had their times of congestion, workers retaliating against the merger, money losses, and more.  The PC had many hardships, the EL also had hardships, and was not a success.  Most of the mergers had problems with parallel lines, money losses, congestion of trains across the system, not enough locomotivepower, failed equipment, lack of funds for maintenance, bad track, dirty and old equipment, losses due to weather, and more problems.

The only merger that came out shining was the Norfolk Southern merger (Norfolk & Western + Southern), in the early 1980s.  Both railroads were profitable, efficient, and need to expand.  NS became a highly efficient and money-making merged railroad.  They too had their problems during the Conrail split in 199 with CSX, but eventually pulled through.

What will the future mergers be like?  We will see when it happens.  It’s not a question of if, but what.  there are current prospects of UP merging with CSX, NS with BNSF, or of the Canadian roads of CN and CP.  Railroads are in the business of making money mainly by transporting goods in a country.  As long as there’s materials needed in building and expanding, and consumers, railroads will be needed.

Check out our other blogs for more railroad stories, information, and more.  Also check out our DVD & CD listings of what we have available for purchase, that can give you a more detailed look at the railroads involved in these mergers.

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