[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: PC: Great PC Article

At 03:25 PM 4/20/99 -0400, Kenneth Roble, Jr. wrote:
>              In the article it said how Penn
>Central could be so busy and keep the mainlines so jammed up and yet
>loose money in the process. I can't quite cmprehend this. 


  I can vouch for the jammed up mainlines from my own experience as a PC
employee...and that resulted in losses primarily because deferred
maintenance on the right-of-way had the cumulative effect of backing
everything up. The business was there, but the physical plant couldn't move

   An example: In the early to mid-70's, the van trains always had priority
over everything else...they were more profitable, and had the tightest
schedules. But there were slow orders everywhere, and after awhile you
would have mixed freight and coal drags plugging every siding from
Cleveland (Collinwood) to Buffalo in order to lay in the clear for those
"hotshots". So it would not be uncommon to require the services of 2 or 3
train and engine crews between Collinwood and Buffalo to get one train over
the road, when historically (before the track got too bad) it took 2 engine
crews and a single train crew. Multiply the cost of those crews times the
number of trains choking the sidings, and you eat up the van train profits
(and then some) pretty fast.

>It also so
>said that their lightly
>used branch lines cause PC grief.

   This was the era of the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission, which has
since been dismantled in this age of de-regulation), which oversaw all the
petitioning for branch line abandonments...the PC (and others) were forced
to maintain service on lightly used branches, usually  because it was a
determination of the ICC that the communities served by those branches
would endure economic hardships as a result of pulling the rail service.
The problem with this reasoning was that it failed to take into account the
need to offset not only the operating expenses vs. earnings, but also the
tax burden carried by the owning railroads. One of the big gains of the
Conrail era (besides dumping cabooses and going to fewer and smaller crews)
were the changes in the way rail properties are taxed.

    The above comments are in no way intended to be the definitive answer
to your questions (the PC was big and complex, as were its problems), but
are what I feel to have been major contributors to its insolvency. 

    Finally, thanks to Walt for mentioning the article to this list..I
wouldn't have known of it otherwise. Now I've gotta try to find the magazine! 

Bob Rothrock   

Home | Main Index | Thread Index