EL + Big Four St. Louis

Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.

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EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby CPF363 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:14 pm

Looking back to the mid 1970s, if the EL had been able to shed the commuter lines in N.J, get tax relief and labor concessions, would adding the former New York Central "Big Four" line from Cleveland through Indianapolis to St. Louis had made the EL more of a viable system? The St. Louis gateway would provide it with new connections that it did not enjoy in Chicago, those being the Missouri Pacific, Missouri-Kansas-Texas, St. Louis Southwestern and the Frisco. This was a plan that Gregory Maxwell considering, among others, as a way to save the EL.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Greg » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:04 pm

CPF363 wrote:Looking back to the mid 1970s, if the EL had been able to shed the commuter lines in N.J, get tax relief and labor concessions, would adding the former New York Central "Big Four" line from Cleveland through Indianapolis to St. Louis had made the EL more of a viable system?


How would they have added the system? The Erie-Lackawanna was bankrupt at the time and would not have been able to generate financing.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Engineer Spike » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:21 pm

How about before the storm? Boston and Maine was bankrupt and got lines in Connecticut.

Maybe a line to St. Louis could have been a concession of the PC merger instead of inclusion in N&W. How about a line to Michigan? This might have been alright. The Erie was not as good a line as NYC, but it didn't have so many branches. It had good clearances. Other than the commuter drain, the other problem was going through rural areas.

How good was EL's marketing. They had UPS, which is a very demanding customer. What could they have done to get cars from Burlington, Northwestern, Rock, Milwaukee on their line. St. Louis could have given them access to Cotton Belt, Katy, Frisco, and MoPac. MoPac could have been questionable, since the C&EI merger was likely already in the works.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Greg » Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:59 pm

Engineer Spike wrote:Maybe a line to St. Louis could have been a concession of the PC merger instead of inclusion in N&W. How about a line to Michigan? This might have been alright. The Erie was not as good a line as NYC, but it didn't have so many branches. It had good clearances. Other than the commuter drain, the other problem was going through rural areas.


The real problem is they did not have the best freight route once the Boonton Line was severed through Paterson. My personal opinion is the EL merger was doomed before it started as the economies of scale were never there.

The Lackawanna may have made it into the 80's if they had merged with the Nickel Plate back in the 1920's as they almost agreed upon. But even then the commuter lines and taxes in New Jersey would have been serious challenges.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:04 pm

You mentioned the Boonton Line being cut; why was it? What was wrong with the Erie? It seems better because of the steep climb out of Scranton on the Lackawanna.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Greg » Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:21 am

Engineer Spike wrote:You mentioned the Boonton Line being cut; why was it? What was wrong with the Erie? It seems better because of the steep climb out of Scranton on the Lackawanna.


The severing of the Boonton Line was part of the hoped for savings in reduction of redundant routes but this never manifested as predicted.

The primary issue that I see with the Erie Main was that it still had and would continue to have a good deal of passenger service from Port Jervis to Hoboken. And there was no where to reroute this to as they also eliminated the Main line through Passaic.

The EL merger was two sick companies with parallel routes in a congested market trying to save money where very little could be saved via merger.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby charlie6017 » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:27 am

In addition to savings from parallel routes, wasn't part of the reason the Boonton line was severed was because
part of the ROW became Interstate Route 80?

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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Greg » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:59 am

charlie6017 wrote:In addition to savings from parallel routes, wasn't part of the reason the Boonton line was severed was because
part of the ROW became Interstate Route 80?

Charlie


Yes, that was the secondary reason as the railroad was to be compensated for relinquishing the Right of Way. They should have retained the one track configuration as proposed as it would have made the Cut Off a still viable option for freight movements.
Last edited by Greg on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby charlie6017 » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:07 am

Totally agree. It's fascinating to contemplate how different things might be today if they had kept a
single track like you mentioned.

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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby CPF363 » Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:29 pm

Engineer Spike wrote:You mentioned the Boonton Line being cut; why was it? What was wrong with the Erie? It seems better because of the steep climb out of Scranton on the Lackawanna.

Was the the climb on the line out of Scranton towards Binghamton a hindrance for the DL&W line? If the Boonton line was never cut or a single track was maintained with I-80, did freight trains have the ability to enter Croxton yard on the Erie? What were the positives and negatives of using the Erie via Gulf Summit verses the DL&W via the Freight Cutoff?

Still of the opinion that the St. Louis gateway would have been overall positive for the EL in the end that would have introduced it to new gateways and connections.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby johnpbarlow » Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:22 am

According to Larry De Young's book "Erie Lackawanna In Color - Vol 1: The West End", Huntington, IN served as interchange with the Wabash and ultimately N&W. During the Dereco days when N&W owned EL, the RRs teamed up to operate the "Cannonball", a premier run-through service between Croxton Yard and St Louis. Apparently, the Cannonball as well as Dereco in general was not successful / long-lived. See page 27.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby Spin » Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:12 pm

St Louis might have helped. It would have given them a direct link to the Southern Pacific and the Katy. And the route connected with the Erie mainline at Marion, Ohio, home of the railroad's principle western classification yard.

Getting into Kansas City would have been better. There it could connect with the Santa Fe bypassing Chicago, the Rio Grande had rights into KC, and then there's the Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern. The KCS would have been a nice interchange partner today.

The line from Marion to StL was proposed when they were deciding what to do with all the bankrupt railroads. One thought was for the EL to cmpose a second Conrail with the StL line and some other lines. Whether two Conrails would have made it, who knows. it would have probably been bought up by NS or CSX anyway.
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Re: EL + Big Four St. Louis

Postby wdburt1 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:37 am

EL had a perfectly good route to St. Louis under Dereco--the former Wabash. N&W and EL even instituted run through service. Did it prevent bankruptcy?

Maxwell's proposal was to obtain trackage rights on Penn Central's ex-NYC Big Four line from Marion to East St. Louis. He recognized that it would remain a prime Penn Central route and that trackage rights was the most EL could expect to obtain. The proposal was made after the bankruptcy severed the corporate relationship with N&W and reflected Maxwell's desire to come up with a way for EL to survive as an independent. It was in my opinion not taken seriously by anyone, just like the trustees' insistence that Conrail acquire all of Erie Lackawanna's lines in the Midwest and pay the estate a pretty penny for them.

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