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PC: ***One more book and comment, about the PC Demise...
- Subject: PC: ***One more book and comment, about the PC Demise...
- From: "Bill Strassner" <prrsignals@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 10:36:18 -0400
***Gotta add my two cents...
Last year I added "Wreck of the Colossus" to my "Demise of the PC"
bookshelf. A good work, due to looking back with more data, a neutral party
( the author = no ties, non-RR ).
Gratefully, he gores back to the early history and developments of both once
great RR's, so the patterns of railroadings' slip downward are revealed.
Government partiality to other forms of transport, forced passenger service
and the strait-jacket of inflexible freight rates were effecting their
damage. Sorry, too long ago to name the author, or even locate the
And, yes, there were many financial "shenanigans", mostly on the PRR side.
This book was described fully on Our PRR-FAX List months ago, and is in Our
Archives. ( PRR -AT- egroups.com).
As for the PC mismanagement issue, I must agree to a large extent with Larry
( and Vic, on our lists..). Not to everything, and not to all of the
conclusions, but I do know what we all witnessed.
After the merger, an easy dozen of we younger PRR folks quit the PC. While
happily working for another RR, we still witnessed PC events closely. Sad,
but so much had changed for the worse that changing jobs, even with loosing
seniority and vacation time, etc. was called for. No regrets.
Operations became very disorganized. Trains might outlaw ( run over the
Hours of Service Law ) before leaving their initial terminals ! This was
definitely NOT the PRR anymore !
Similar reports came in from the NYC side, also. Seemed like it all just
melted down faster than it had before.... The existing problems just became
I refer to local operations that we could see daily. The upper level of
managers in HQ Philly were typically and often lied to, "everything is fine
and on time", so they may not have had any clue to the real operations.
Forwarded reports contained works of fiction, for the most part.
Most of the folks that I knew in Philly were very pleased working for both
the PC and CR ! Working in the 'ivory tower' part of a RR is far different
from the ground operations, for sure !
This doctored report PC practice continued into ConRail, as I witnessed
first hand. Too many sad stories to go into. But we had 80% turnover of line
managers, I think that was a "clue" that something was seriously amiss.
Imagine during the manager "vacuum" ( no one left...) having nice and
competent fellows come down from somewhere way way up on the DL&W, or the
LV, where they ran their local terminals safely and efficiently.
With no time to qualify, no "introduction", they were being thrown into the
sprawling (PRR) Waverly Yard overnight, and being told to "straighten it all
out". NOW ! hahhahahha.
A month was a long time for these new bosses.... one lasted two before the
ulcers kicked in...then, "NEXT !!!".
Wasting money ( much of it taxpayers' dollars, including my own.....) big
time was common. Then the sloppy operating practices ( hustle, hurry up...)
began to backfire as employees became injured and even killed in the big
rush at Oak Island Yard ( More cars, more...).
That death of someone that I worked with, started me writing about the
events. Many of my documented rail tales ( train numbers, dates, times,
locations...) were published in Rails Northeast under my Penn Name, Red
These fax got through to Spence, but he was advised that they were all BS.
Until someone bothered to check, and each one was verified as true..... to
every detail..... then there was a little change, but very little....
Improvement suggestions that we offered back then (1976) were spurned
harshly by former PC managers, as one told me, "WE know how to do this, as
We Ran It All Before"...
........."...into the ground....", I added, jadedly..........
About five years later, many of our ideas were implemented ! By others who
came later, and who were hailed as foresighted ! Hmmmm....
A very sad time for all. It did turn sweeter years later with a different
management team that rescued early ConRail and turned it around into the
Conrail that became very successful in regard to its own goals. ( a slower
service, but a guaranteed service ).
And the stock appreciation did not hurt, either.....
and a better color scheme !?!
What a time to have experienced ! Never dull......
But what a cost in human lives, careers, families, etc......
Thx, Bill Strassner*-*
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