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Re: PC: RE: "The Fallen Colossus."

> What is the scoop on the above referenced book? 

This book is written from an academic/historical viewpoint, instead of
the sensational standpoint of "Wreck of the Penn Central." (I haven't
completed the book, but so far I haven't found a single mention, or
photo, of Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.)

The author seems to be making the point that unrestrained capitalism,
dating back to the early days in the U.S., was the source of the problem.
He speaks glowingly of how other countries run railroads as a public
utility. To be fair, though, he does show how the government did many
things to cause problems, such as the huge financial problems caused by
government control in World War One and how the ICC seemed to make
anything it touched in railroading worse. 

Like other books of the times (such as "Wreck" and "To Hell in a Day
Coach") the author gets drawn off on side issues of passenger travel,
although he recognizes that government subsidies of highways and airlines
only served to destroy the heavily taxed, privately funded rail passenger
systems. At the time, few people outside of the railroad industry
realized how bad a money loser passenger trains were, and how much the
government did to insure this. One of his pet peeves seems to be The
Broadway Limited and The 20th Century Limited; he thinks it's wasteful
that both railroads tried for premier service on the same route.
Interestingly, while complaining about both railroads trying to offer
good service to draw passengers he also complains when the railroads
offered poor service to drive passengers away. Sort of like the way he
complains about the lack of government control when not talking about all
of the damage done by the USRA and the ICC.

Like "Wreck of the Penn Central", "The Fallen Colossus" lacks the
perspective of history. It's a little better than wreck, though, since it
was released in 1977. ("Wreck" was released shortly after the

The definitive book on the Penn Central (history, not photo) is still
waiting to be written. Much of the Penn Central story was not clear until
after Conrail and deregulation. Once the Conrail split is cleaned up it's
time for an author to start writing. (A heavily revised "The Fallen
Colossus wouldn't be bad.)

"Wreck of the Penn Central" contains a wealth of information, but it also
contains a lot of erroneous information. PC did not fail because of
Bevan, Saunders and Perlman. Few executives could have made it last much
longer, and many probably would have failed sooner. NYC and PRR were
doomed in the governmental and economic climate of the times, and they
would have failed apart if they hadn't been merged. It took a Penn
Central failure to get the attention of the nation and lead to fixing the

Bryan Turner

Amtrak in the South Email List - http://www.egroups.com/group/South_Wind

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