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Re: PC: Another Penn Central Book.

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 
trains efficiently.

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,

Jim Kosty
Corning NY

>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.[1] 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.[2] 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
>near future.
>[1] And curse the name, memory, and career of Wright Patman, too.
>[2] That's not something the historical society could arrange, is it?
>Michael Worrell
>"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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