Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

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Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby CPF363 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:08 pm

What was the reason as to why Conrail decided to abandon the Erie Lackawanna across Ohio and Indiana verses the abandonment of the former PRR Fort Wayne Line? Was there any attempt to retain the EL over the PRR considering the EL was double stack ready in the 1970s? Did Conrail ever look into closing both the EL and the PRR but decided to retain one of the routes as a overflow or detour line?
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Re: Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby charlie6017 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:53 am

I think a good part of it was Amtrak using the PRR route for the "Broadway Limited" and to a lesser extent, there
were commuter runs from Valparaiso, IN back and forth to Chicago. I can't speak for whether there was much in
the way of online-customers on the PRR-line but I know there weren't too many customers on the EL west of Marion.

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Re: Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby CPF363 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:54 pm

Seems that there would be some incentive to retain the old EL with the large yard in Marion being at the junction point of the EL's New York City to Chicago line and the NYC's St. Louis to Cleveland former Big Four route.
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Re: Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby charlie6017 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:10 pm

CPF363 wrote:Seems that there would be some incentive to retain the old EL with the large yard in Marion being at the junction point of the EL's New York City to Chicago line and the NYC's St. Louis to Cleveland former Big Four route.


Ordinarily that would be ideal, but the problem there was the yard at Marion was in deplorable shape. The track was
shot, the mechanisms on the hump were outdated and not working and Conrail at that time wasn't in position to spend
the money required to make it worthwhile--not with somewhat nearby Buckeye Yard in Columbus being built only 8 years
prior. Also, Erie Lackawanna was a very late addition into Conrail. That also factored some into the equation, too.

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Re: Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby Zeke » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:29 am

There were a number of reasons I believe and I heard this from some E-L bosses that wound up in Conrail. The west end suffered from deferred maintenance in it's last years. CR had no intention of rebuilding a third NY-CHI mainline across western Ohio and Indiana or let a competitor RR like the Santa Fe, NW or C & O use the west end to compete in CR's market. The Erie Western Railway, The Spencerville and Elgin and a few other shortlines tried to make a go of it but all succumbed after a few years. Marion was scheduled for a first class rebuild in the early 70's but June 1972's Hurricane Agnes so devastated E-L finances the 9 million dollars allocated for a state of the art hump yard was tabled forever. The west end's time was up.
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Re: Closing EL verses PRR in Midwest

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:30 pm

A few observations:

1. The Spencerville & Elgin RR still operates today under the ownership of RJ Corman. The track has been removed in Ohio City, but it is otherwise active.

2. I agree with the comment about EL being late to the CR merger. With that being said, the EL main west of Sterling, OH wouldn't have survived if Chessie had acquired the line.

3. Both the USRA and CR were heavily staffed by former PC employees at the management level. The former PRR mains (both Panhandle and Fort Wayne Line) weren't in better shape than EL's west end by 1976, based on the photos I've seen. I've also read that the EL shops in Marion were in better shape than the PC shops in Columbus. PC lines received better treatment IMO because of old rivalries, as well as EL's late inclusion to CR.
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