EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

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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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby ecouter » Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:06 am

No. That part was never transferred to Conrail as an asset.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby ELSFRR » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:38 pm

Well here is my Idea of a viable EL system

1. The EL main between Chicago and Hoboken
2. The D&H from Bingahampton to Montreal
3. The NW from Decatur, Indiana to St. Louis
4. The PRR from North Judson to Kokomo
5. The NKP from Kokomo to Indy
6. The Pennsy from Indy to Cincinatti
7. The B&M to Boston
8. The rest of the EL system.[/quote]
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby Caseyjim » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:53 pm

The Erie Lackawanna would still have had problems trying to make it on its own. First, the Penn Central merger in 1968 was one nail in EL's coffin because of the way PC could and did reroute traffic to avoid more direct routes involving the EL. Another nail in EL's coffin was when the New Haven Railroad, bankrupt since 1961, was taken into the Penn Central system, which promptly destroyed EL's Maybrook Gateway. I wonder if a combination of Erie Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson, Boston and Maine, and Maine Central, plus the Bangor and Aroostook, would have made a viable system had these railroads all merged together into one system and possibly merge with Chessie System as well. Chessie did not become CSX until 1983 when the Chessie and Seaboard System formed CSX Corporation as a holding company and merged their railroads a few years later. A joint New York/New Jersey authority would get ownership of the EL commuter Lines east of Port Jervis,NY and Netcong,NJ while Chessie or the combination of EL-DH-BM-MEC_BAR would have freight traffic and service rights over the lines. By spinning off the commuter lines from the rest of the railroad, Erie Lackawanna might have had a chance, no matter how small.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby rrfoose » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:31 pm

Had the EL gone to Chessie in ‘76, what would have come of the old Erie west of Sterling? We all know the history of these parts of the lines, so no need to repeat that. But was there ever a plan put out there as to what would happen with this trackage?

For the what-if part, I think that these lines could have supported a regional railroad. Considering what trackage and business is left, there would have been enough freight to haul. Securing run-throughs to Chicago with the W&LE would be important. Also, there would be a possibility to acquire the ex-PRR Ft Wayne line as Conrail wasn’t a fan and this regional could condense operations. Also, picking up the ex-DT&I in the 90s would provide a funnel of traffic to head east and west. A what-if, but one that could possibly still be around today.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby rrfoose » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:50 am

rrfoose wrote:Had the EL gone to Chessie in ‘76, what would have come of the old Erie west of Sterling? We all know the history of these parts of the lines, so no need to repeat that. But was there ever a plan put out there as to what would happen with this trackage?

For the what-if part, I think that these lines could have supported a regional railroad. Considering what trackage and business is left, there would have been enough freight to haul. Securing run-throughs to Chicago with the W&LE would be important. Also, there would be a possibility to acquire the ex-PRR Ft Wayne line as Conrail wasn’t a fan and this regional could condense operations. Also, picking up the ex-DT&I in the 90s would provide a funnel of traffic to head east and west. A what-if, but one that could possibly still be around today.


Anyone have any thoughts on this? What would have happened to the EL west of Sterling if Chessie had taken over EL? Picking up the ex-PRR Ft Wayne line and the DT&I would produce a regional railroad capable of staying around.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby FFWally » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:15 pm

Intermodal

If EL makes it to 1980, and that is a big if Intermodal traffic to Chicago could have given her new life. the problem is getting past Conrail which in 76 becomes the 800 pound gorilla.

Intermodal, Intermodal, Intermodal... double stacks would have give n the revenue needed to stay afloat until deregulation. From there it's jsut a matter of what line becomes the big partner to build with.

Santa Fe, MoPac, Illinois Central, CP, CN, one of those ties in with EL. Maybe even Guilford in the 1980's.

I don't see how the EL makes it as a stand alone, but the chances it still becomes part of NS is pretty good. Unless they tie in with a MoPac/UP in the early 1980's.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby Spin » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:42 am

The Chessie System purchase did not include any of the EL west of Sterling,

Although I assume they would have kept the Mansfield-Ontario line to serve the GM plant. As NS does.

Other than that, I don't see a lot they'd be interested in.

Yes, INTERMODAL. They would have had a head start on Conrail with the UPS contract and they had the clearances to run the double stackers. The NYC and PRR lines needed lots of work to get those clearances. With government help (through the MARC-EL scenario) it would be quicker to rebuild, it's easier to rehab 1000 miles of main than the tangled mess Conrail had.

Trackage rights over N&W to Kansas City (or ownership of the PC Marion-St Louis plus rights over MoPac to KC) opens up intermodal possibilities with KCS, SP, and DRGW/WP. The KCS partnership would still be good. Not to mention a more direct interchange with the Santa Fe bypassing Chicago.

If you think merger with the then-profitable P&LE, that would have helped make it to dereg too.

After that, who knows. They could get more trackage or at least rights with the NS and CSX mergers, then later with the CR buyout. It's doubtful it would still be independant, but KCS still is. In the end it probably would have gone to NS anyway, or maybe CN. But we can dream, can't we?
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Ohio Valley System virtual railroad http://www.ohiovalleysystem.com
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby trainwayne1 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:10 pm

The hurricane was only the final nail in the coffin. After the PC merger, eastbound traffic dropped by over 50% through the Maybrook gateway, and westbound it dropped by over 75%. Through the years '69-'70 this traffic loss amounted to over 17 million in lost revenues. During the same peiod, the ICC raised per-diem rates and implimented car service orders that were a big financial drain on the EL. Also, labor guarantees due to the Dereco takeover cost the railroad millions. The N&W did try to help the EL in 1970 when the joint Cannonball service between NY and St. Louis started, and the N&W actually short-hauled themselves by interchanging with the EL at Huntingdon, In. instead of Buffalo, and helped EL establish the EL-D&H-B&M service between Chicago/Huntindon and points in Mass.
The economics of the early '70's were another big cause also as many rust belt customers in Oh and Pa closed and moved south.
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby GulfRail » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:29 pm

I think there were several things that killed Ms. Phoebe Snow:

1. Management. Now don't get me wrong, the EL was very well managed...during the White years. One problem was that Maxwell, while a competent and fairly good executive, wasn't all that aggressive. White was aggressive when it came to slashing costs (just look at the NJ commuter subsidies), and surely his aggressive nature would have helped during the Penn Central merger. Erie Lackawanna's people tried, but they just didn't stress the severity of the situation. If White had been alive, he would have made Washington quite aware of what would happen because of the Penn Central merger, and likely he would have gotten the EL some more concessions. Perhaps the EL would have taken control Campbell Hall-Pougkeepsie line, and maybe they would have forced the PC not to divert traffic away from Maybrook. Saunders, being the "great" compromiser that he was, would have more than likely said "yes" in order to gain ICC support (much to the chagrin of Perlman).

2. The Maybrook Obsession. The Erie Lackawanna should have given up on Maybrook by 1970. When it became obvious that Penn Central didn't wish to shorthaul itself and that the EL could do nothing, the EL should have made an out of court settlement with the PC. The EL sued Penn Central for $6.6 million in damages and filed to have the Maybrook Gateway reopened. It failed in getting the $6.6 million, but it "succeeded" in getting traffic through Maybrook. But shippers were terrified of the Penn Central's awful service, so few switched back, and those who remained preferred PC's single-line service. If the PC had agreed to pay $6.6 million dollars in damages in exchange for the EL giving up on Maybrook, it would have been beneficial for both parties. After all, the EL was actually losing money on the Maybrook line from 1971 to 1974 despite the reopening. If they had just given up on Maybrook, they would have saved money in terms of maintenance, crews and equipment.

3. The Urge to Merge. The Erie Lackawanna tried to force itself onto a variety of railroads (most notably N&W-C&O and even Pennsylvania-New York Central) in the vain hope that they'd be forced to merge. Unfortunately, they forgot about "arms-length" mergers like DERECO. If they had focused on further cutting costs and streamlining operations then they would have become a diamond-in-the-rough for merger partners who wanted to operate to New York.

4. The inability to Upgrade Marion Yard. If the Erie Lackawanna had entered into an agreement with Chessie to Upgrade Marion, ala. Bison in Buffalo, it could have saved $3.5 million dollars a year. Why Chessie? Chessie was trying to merge with the N&W, it served Marion, and it was having troubles in Cincinnati. Perhaps if the Erie Lackawanna had agreed to let Chessie pre-block some of its Cincinnati bound traffic at the Upgraded Marion terminal, Chessie wouldn't have built Queensgate in the 1980's.

In the words of the (in)famous film "Pulp Fiction," "It's the Little Differences..."
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby GulfRail » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:33 pm

And then there was the Santa Fe proposal. Hey, it could have happened. :wink:

Santa Fe SD40-2 #5077 in Bison Yard (harbinger of "what might have been?")

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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby Engineer Spike » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:56 pm

I am from Connecticut, and have seen the industry flee in droves all my life. I think that the focus should have been what NS has done with the Southern Tier, the D&H, and Pan Am Southern deal. They should have focused more on the D&H, which was a sister in DERECO, infact EL management controlled the D&H from Cleveland. They would have had a viable option against PC's waterlevel and B&A. The problem was the B&M's bankruptsy. EL didn't have any money. The original D&H company got bought out by N&W. According to my co-workers on the D&H, who survived this era, N&W raped the D&H of materials. N&W would have had to pony up the cash. B&M did get its act together by the mid 1970s, but by then, EL was bust, and they had finally decided to go into Conrail.
The Maybrook gateway was a looser. The bridge was outdated, and the line led to heavy passenger territory. The wire heights into New Haven would have been prohibitive to modern heavy freight traffic. The loss of CT manufacturing was part of what made the New Haven fail. Why go there?
If B&M had gone into DERECO, or N&W bailed them out , Boston bound traffic could have just gone that route. The EL-N&W-D&H-B&M could have short hauled PC for CT bound traffic, interchanging in Springfield or Worcester, MA. This route would have had an advantage the PC's B&A didn't. That was the connection to the MEC, and its heavy forest product traffic. I wonder if N&W could have told PC, "We will now deliver your Connecticut and southeast MA cars to you at Springfield or Worcester."
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Re: EL: What If The Hurricane Never Happened

Postby H.F.Malone » Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:04 pm

Jack Fishwick, head of N&W at the time (early 70s) made it very clear that he thought railroading east of Buffalo was a minefield of commuters, congestion, declining industry and wanted NO part of it. The idea that N&W could have combined with B&M via DERECO is interesting, and probably would have worked out well. But it was 40 years ahead of its time, and things were pretty grim in the Northeast and New England back then.
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