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Re: PC: Another Penn Central Book.
- Subject: Re: PC: Another Penn Central Book.
- From: "Jim Kosty" <j_kosty@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2004 19:27:41 +0000
I agree with you about Saunders and Bevan, but it seems to me, from my
research on the subject of the Penn Central problem, that Perlman seemed to
be about the only one in upper management on the PC that had the interests
of the railroad in the forefront.
I know Perlman wanted to modernize things quite rapidly, and maybe he was a
bit overzealous about it at times. But from reading about Executive Jet,
Buckeye Pipeline, Great Southwest Corporation, Arvada, and some of the other
"diversification" moves the company made, it is apparent that the last thing
the top managers cared about at the time was the rail holdings.
I talked to many former NYC employees in my area about the latter days of
the Central. Many of them had a "middle of the road" opinion on Perlman.
The ones that had occasion to meet him said he was friendly, but also
commanded respect. There was some consternation over his CTC programs and
the dismantling of the four track, automatic block mainline, as well as the
combining of trains, which eliminated jobs. The employees told me that
there once were three trains that arrived in Corning from Buffalo, Niagara
Falls and Syracuse each day heading south to Newberry Yard near Williamsport
to connect with the Reading and the PRR. Perlman initiated an operating
program where these three trains were combined at Corning into one giant
southbound train. The fellows that used to run these trains admitted that
the length of the trains and the moves required to combine them seemed to
negate the intended efficiencies of doing so. In retrospect, the mainline
went from 4 tracks to 2, and our line through Corning was reduced in the
early sixties from a mostly double track line to a single track route. I
personally observed and conclude that the double tracking of the main and
the CTC rendered no serious problems in terms of operational fluidity, but
in fact eliminated the need for local towers, eliminated over 500 miles of
additional double track that was no longer needed in light of the advent of
longer trains, more powerful diesels, and the diminshing frequency and
number of passenger service. Likewise, the Pennsylvania Division through
Corning was now seeing fewer trains than it was during the 1940's, and the
elimination of one track didn't appear to cause any inability to move the
I have had a bias for the management of the PRR (the surviving company in
the PC merger) as, again, personal observations comparing the physical
plants of both roads pre - merger, showed me two very different cultures or
philosophies within management. In upstate NY, the NYC mainline was still a
racetrack, with a streamlined but efficient structure in place. The PRR
appeared to have declined in the maintenance of their trackage by the later
sixties from what I have seen. The other side of that coin is that the
Pennsy seemed intent on modernizing their locomotive fleet earlier and
faster than the NYC did. Most of the higher horsepower second - generation
hood units bought by the NYC were acquired within the last three years of
the Central's existence, all being B-B trucked units, with the bulk of the
GP40 and U30B diesels delivered within a year or so before the PC merger.
The PRR management, post merger, did little to forward the Flexi Van service
beyond what it had become, and instead opted for TOFC for the preferred
method of intermodal service. This probably was the wise course of action,
I hate to admit, because the Flexi Van concept was not embraced fully by
other roads. Looking at how much COFC has become prominent on railroads in
this day, I wonder if the Flexi Van service would have flourished had it
been allowed to exist until the present?
I guess the NYC was interesting in that they were (at least in the minds of
their management) a vision of the future, embracing the latest technology
and attempting to computerize their yards, streamlining operations and
gearing up for speed and efficiency. The PRR was interesting in that, even
though they may have appeared to be allowing a lot to go to seed as far as
concerns their physical plant, they were actually still running amazing
amounts of tonnage, as always, and had invested quite heavily in the most
modern and highest horsepower locomotives available at the time.
Comparatively, the Pennsy had a much younger fleet of locomotives at the
time of the merger than did the NYC. In defense of the PRR, I was amazed at
the condition of the NYC mainline through Toledo when viewing movies of
trains passing the area in the last few years prior to the merger. The
trackage was unrecognizable as mainline track, and by 1970 in the PC era,
the trains were all moving at about 10 MPH on low joints that were just
waiting to cause a harmonic rock derailment.
I am sure your research was probably a lot more in depth than mine. I did a
22 page research paper on the subject of the PC bankruptcy for 12th grade
English back in 1975. I used a lot of sources, relying heavily on the book
"Wreck of The Pen Central".
I'd be interested in hearing more on your perspectives so I might learn some
things I didn't know about the intricacies of the whole mess.
Have a good day,
>From: "Michael Worrell" <worrelmr -AT- dramatools.net>
>Reply-To: penn-central -AT- smellycat.com
>To: <penn-central -AT- smellycat.com>
>Subject: Re: PC: Another Penn Central Book.
>Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 12:08:29 -0500
>Thankfully, I've covered all my bases on the politico-economic stuff. Had
>plow through all of those books in writing a paper last semester on
>regulation. Wound up kicking the Railroad Competition Act of 2003 (i.e.
>S.919) pretty hard, but at least the professor liked it. The one thing I
>walked away with from those books was a desire to slap Saunders, punch
>Perlman, and lay a beating on Bevan. I've got to get my own copies of
>of these books, which may or may not get expensive. And yes, I do enjoy the
>business/political side of the whole mess, along with the business of
>transportation by rail in general.
>One of the most amusing things about the whole project was seeing a report
>from the American Enterprise Institute handed down during the Ford
>Adminstration. One of its authors was none other than John Snow. Hee hee.
>Where have we heard _that_ name before?
>Having said and read all that, I just wanted to see pictures! That's why
>kind of hoping that some latter-day Penn Central revival will lead to a
>reprint of the Yanosey book, because I prefer buying new if I'm going to
>out some significant dollars. Would that Harry Stegmaier would make
>Central Passenger Consists" some day!
>Keep the suggestions coming; I'm making a list of things to focus on in the
> And curse the name, memory, and career of Wright Patman, too.
> That's not something the historical society could arrange, is it?
>"You think you know what I'm doing, so obviously you don't."---Aeon Flux
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Steve Hipes" <sthipes -AT- hotmail.com>
>To: <penn-central -AT- smellycat.com>
>Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 11:32 AM
>Subject: RE: PC: Another Penn Central Book.
> > I think someone may have hinted that The "Fallen Colossus" is another
> > on the story of the Penn Central bankruptcy, in the same vein as "Wreck
> > the Penn Central" and "No Way to Run a Railroad." If you have even the
> > slightest interest in the business and politcal side of Penn Central,
> > three are a must. Would also recommend Richard Saunders "Railroad
> > and the Coming of Conrail". Good stuff if you are into the business
> > workings of the railroads.
> > Steve Hipes
> > Columbus, Ohio
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