True, the railroad business was pretty battered by the late 1960's for various reasons, not the least of which was the federal government's "head in the sand" policies in regards to the nation's railroads and the glacial pace of rate increases before the ICC.
But don't you think that Saunders, Perlman and Bevin deserve some of the blame? Perlman, who ran the railroad, had his office in New York City miles away from the operations headquarters in Philly. Saunders and Perlman couldn't stand each other, apparently, and that's no way for the two senior executives of any company to behave. Perlman allegedly distrusted the members of the "Red Team", and in fact worked to get some fired (Smucker, for one, VP of Ops). Yes, I'll grant the point that at least Perlman was interested in running a railroad, but he had his territorial feelings, too.
Bevin and Saunders spent entirely too much time worrying about deals like Executive Jet (which was illegal for a railroad to own) and other diversification projects. True, these projects didn't really siphon that much money away from the railroad but frankly at that point the railroad could have used every penny it could get it's hands on...
To me, perhaps the most important cause of the PC failure was the grand total of ten minutes of thought that went into the merger. These two giants of the railroad industry had very different styles of operation and management, and it was all thrown into one pot on February 1, with the result of a mess. Crimminy, even the two railroad's computers couldn't interface. Don't you think that someone might have spent a little time trying to work that problem out?
It's been suggested that if the PC did what Chessie did, and that's merge very slowly over several years, then perhaps the bankruptcy wouldn't have happened. Maybe, and in any event we'll never know.
Regardless, it was nice to see a good discussion on the list; I haven't seen one in awhile.