What If: Pennsy In Operation today as Pennsy.

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What If: Pennsy In Operation today as Pennsy.

Postby One of One-Sixty » Thu Jun 23, 2005 3:51 pm

We all know that PRR rocked big time before the merger, and was very inovative with alot of their stuff while making several locos (GG1) famous.

How would you percieve the Pennsylvania Railroad today?

Do you think they would still use elec engines for freight? Would they still make engines different from everybody else?

What kind of motive power do you think they would have as a whole?

Would they still be in both passenger and freight revenue or just one of the sources of revenue.

How far do you think PRR would take their electricfication?

Would we still see UP as big of a major player that we see them as now?
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Re: What If: Pennsy In Operation today as Pennsy.

Postby LCJ » Thu Jun 23, 2005 4:05 pm

One of One-Sixty wrote:We all know that PRR rocked big time before the merger...


Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but we don't all know this. Assuming, of course, that I understand what you mean by "rocked big time."

"Before the merger" is a large piece of history, though. Post WWII, PRR was not especially all that innovative, as I see it.

I rode a PRR train in about '66 from NYP to Chicago. It was a close match with NYC's trains for dirtiness, shabbiness, and rude employees. The railroad was pretty rocky, too, if I recall correctly.

I can't imagine a present-day PRR. It just doesn't seem as though it was meant to be. I'll be interested to see what others say about your questions.
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Re: What If: Pennsy In Operation today as Pennsy.

Postby One of One-Sixty » Thu Jun 23, 2005 5:35 pm

LCJ wrote:Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but we don't all know this. Assuming, of course, that I understand what you mean by "rocked big time."

"Before the merger" is a large piece of history, though. Post WWII, PRR was not especially all that innovative, as I see it.

I rode a PRR train in about '66 from NYP to Chicago. It was a close match with NYC's trains for dirtiness, shabbiness, and rude employees. The railroad was pretty rocky, too, if I recall correctly.

I can't imagine a present-day PRR. It just doesn't seem as though it was meant to be. I'll be interested to see what others say about your questions.


What I mean by rocked is even with the shortfall with the decline in ridership, the PRR before the merger with NYC was still one of the top players in the RR indsutry.

Nobody knows exactly how PRR would turn out if it nevered merged with NYC, thats why this is a "what if" scenario. This is just to pick other people's minds to see what they think PRR would be like in todays world. And since everybody has their own opinions and differences, I figured we would get varied results and interesting hypothises.

To answer my own questions, I think PRR if it was still around would be bigger than UP, with electricfication throughout all of PA. There major revenue would be freight while offering regional passenger service through out PA while owning the NEC and sharing it with Amtrak. They would still own and control the LIRR and make Penn Station (NYC) a bigger hub as big if not bigger than Grand Central. The Metro-North would be named something different and wold also be controlled by PRR.

I think we would defintely see new engines for passenger service several more attempts of freight moved by elec motive power using EU andn JP as examples. PRR would also come up with several new designs for desiel power motive power with one of them being te replacwement for the GG-1 and several others.
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Postby walt » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:35 pm

The PRR, circa the late 1960's, would have had the same problems that the other major US railroads had, particularly with regard to its passenger service. If you can remember ( or have heard), most of the problems which lead to the rapid demise of the Penn Central were centered around problems on the PRR side, in particular, the increasingly unprofitable Philadelphia and New York area commuter operations, the increasingly costly maintenance requirements of the electrified NEC ( in spite of the clear superiority of the GG1 over many contemporary locomotive types), and the poor management, generally, which had become as major problem for the PRR even before that merger. Granted, the terminal nature of the New Haven Railroad's problems wouldn't have been included in the mix, but the PRR had significant problems of its own.

IMHO, the only thing that might have helped a PRR corporate sucessor to survive to the present day would have been a division of the railroad's eastern and western ( west of the Penna Line) portions into two separate railroads. ( of course, then it wouldn't have really been the "Pennsylvania Railroad") the western portion might have survived, but I doubt very much whether the eastern portion would have.

Neither portion of a "split" PRR successor would be operating passenger service today. If you remember, the PRR's much smaller Philadelphia & Eastern Penna. area competitor, the Reading Railroad, which also operated extensive electrified Phila Area commuter services ( which have now been combined with the PRR side into SEPTA's much maligned Regional Rail Division) did NOT join Amtrak in 1971, and didn't survive for either passenger or freight service past the mid 1970's.
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Postby JoeG » Sat Jun 25, 2005 1:52 pm

The Pennsy was certainly innovative when it built NY Penn Station and its associated infrastructure. Maybe it was still innovative when it did its electrification in the thirties. But, after WWII, it went rapidly downhill. I'd like to remind mr One of One-sixty that Penn Station was torn down several years before the merger. The last president of the road, Stuart Saunders, generally referred to the railroad as "the f____ railroad" because he had no interest in it and wanted to invest the railroad's (non-existent) cash in other ventures. (This is in Richard Saunders'--no relation to Stuart--excellent book, Merging Lines.) The upper management of the Pennsy, toward the end, was horrible, and was much worse than the management of the Central.
The Pennsy and the Central were both doomed by events beyond their control--the Interstate highway system and the de-industrialization of America and especially the Northeast. If not for the Penn Central merger, maybe bankruptcy would have taken a little longer, but it would have come in the seventies. Incidentally, why would Metro North have gotten a different name if the Penn Central merger hadn't occurred? The Central and the Pennsy were both trying to get rid of all their passenger trains, and I assume would have eventually succeeded, so why not Metro North for ex-New York Central commuter lines?
People are welcome to whatever fantasies turn them on, but there is no realistic basis to the idea that the Pennsy would have had a future. And, the only Rocking the Pennsy did in the Sixties was caused by its horribly maintained roadbed and rails.
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Postby rdganthracite » Mon Jun 27, 2005 9:38 am

If you had commuted on the PRR in the '60s as I did you would understand how poor the trackage had become. The MP54s were so dirty that you could barely see out the windows, and who knows what color the floors were supposed to be. The Silverliners were more comfortable, but were just a filthy. And heaven forbid that you get a P70 hauled by a GG1. They rode like the bearings were shot and had flat wheels, and every time you stopped or started at a station the run in and out of slack was awful.
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Postby walt » Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:31 pm

In its heyday, the PRR WAS innovative. It was also a very aggressive ( and intensely disliked) coporation. By the 1950's,however, it had lost its innovativeness, and some of its aggressiveness. However it was STILL intensely disliked as a coporation.This made it more difficult than it otherwise might have been, to obtain subsidies, breaks from its unions,or anything else that might have helped its finances. In this light, the PC merger seemed like a good idea at the time, but as it turned out, it merely hastened the advent of Amtrak.
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Pennsy today... NOT!!!

Postby Matt Langworthy » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:27 pm

Not to mention Conrail. PRR still wouldn't exist today because it had way too many light density branchlines. One of the benefits of PC and (mostly) CR was rationalizing duplicate routes, especially in northern Pennsylvania and upstate NY. Did PRR really need the nearly empty Elmira Branch fully intact after the Sodus docks closed in 1967? Not with NYC's Fall Brook Secondary basically covering the same territory from Williamsport to the Finger Lakes. Or look at the lines that RJ Corman currently operates in the Clearfield, PA, area. Way too many lines in that area during the '60s and PRR wasn't about to shed any of them on its own. It took more innovative management than Sanders for the better routes to saved. In some cases it was ex-PRR, but a number of former NYC routes were also saved. And these are just a few examples in over 20,000 miles of track.

Pennsy's managment wasn't very good to begin with, and they showed how low corporate leadership could go during the PC crisis. Sanders et al did very little pre-merger to shed or subsidize cash-draining commuter services. Thus that nightmare would have continued, too.

No matter what happened, I think that PRR would have been bankrupt by the early '70s. It was in a lot of trouble headed into the merger. Barring a genius like Stanley Crane or Bill White (both unlikely in that caustic environment) the remants of Pennsy would be owned by another corporation, just as NS does today.
Last edited by Matt Langworthy on Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pennsy today... NOT!!!

Postby walt » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:12 pm

Matt Langworthy wrote:

Pennsy's managment wasn't very good to begin with, and they showed how low corporate leadership could go during the PC crisis. Sanders et al did very little pre-merger to shed or subsidzie cash-draining commuter services. Thus that nightmare would have continued, too.


Actually the Philadelphia area counties ( with the exception of Delaware County) DID funnel some subsidies into the PRR's commuter services in the middle 1960's. The SEPTA predecessor, SEPACT was created specifically to do this, much to the dismay of the Delaware County based Red Arrow Lines' President Merritt H.Taylor, Jr. Taylor's influence was such that Delaware County declined to join SEPACT, and especially declined to contribute funds, even though two of PRR's suburban/ commuter lines travelled through Delaware County for most of their distance ( the then Media- West Chester line, and most of the Penna. portion of the Philadelphia- Chester- Wilmington local service over what is now the NEC). Even with these subsidies, however, the PRR was in major financial trouble. I'm not certain that, if the merger hadn't happened, the PRR would have lasted any longer than the PC ultimately did.
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Postby drewh » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:43 pm

If the PRR had wanted to electrify further territory, it would have immediately following WWII. If traffic had warranted it, they would have done HAR-PIT.

As noted above however, the corporation was already in decline and they didn't have the resources. IMO, none of the RR's including PRR & NYC, ever recoverred from the excessive strains put on the infrastructure because of WWII. And the US govt never helped them rebuild - instead we rebuilt the Euro RR's under the Marshall plan.

Sad that we helped build the Euro & Japaneese RR's into what they are today, but yet we have nothing here in the US. (And I don't think the NEC qualifies in any comparison of HSR around the world - even though it is the best we have).
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Postby AmtrakFan » Sun Jul 03, 2005 5:29 pm

I don't think the PRR would have made it thru 1975 or so. There were too many problems associated with PRR.
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Re: Pennsy today... NOT!!!

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:37 pm

walt wrote: Actually the Philadelphia area counties ( with the exception of Delaware County) DID funnel some subsidies into the PRR's commuter services in the middle 1960's. The SEPTA predecessor, SEPACT was created specifically to do this, Even with these subsidies, however, the PRR was in major financial trouble. I'm not certain that, if the merger hadn't happened, the PRR would have lasted any longer than the PC ultimately did.
True, but no subsidies for NJ-NY service, nor for any lines in the Baltimore-Washington DC area. Did PRR's subsidiary LIRR even get any subsidies at that time?

PRR was doomed, and Sanders was more interested in power than operations by this point. It's hard to believe this was the same man who had previously guided N&W pretty well.
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Postby walt » Thu Jul 07, 2005 11:47 am

I don't know about the NYC-NJ area, but PRR never ran commuter type services in the Baltimore- DC area, PRR's service to this area was almost exclusively through its intercity trains--- In the era we're talking about no one was running much local rail service in the Balt- Wash Area. I have to agree with the general thrust, however. There wasn't enough government money anywhere to have kept the PRR going in the late 1960's.
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Same Result Pretty Much......But Not Quite

Postby 2nd trick op » Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:38 pm

Without the obvious NYC-PRR mismatch, both of the major eastern lines would have paired with a coal road, most likely N&W-PRR and C&O-B&O-NYC.

This would have left neither road in a position to have New Haven forced upon it, so NH, Jersey Central and Susquehanna might all have been incorporated into a joint operation, possibly under the Port Authority. Other commuter operators might have been allowed to opt in later, or New York State might have combined the Long Island/Metro North operation. with NJT asssuming the Jersey lines.

Freed of the burden of Jersey Central, Chessie wouldn't have found Reading so hard to swallow.

New Haven freight operations would likely have gravitated to Chessie/NYC with Selkirk as a hub. New York harbor carfloat opertations would have dried up just as in the actual outcome.

Both lines would have had to deal with the exodus of manufactured, miscellaneous and perishable traffic in the wake of the completion of the Interstate highway system. The two majors would have survived, but Hurricane Agnes in 1972 would probably have spelled finis to both Erie-Lackawanna and Lehigh Valley; the Poughkeepsie bridge wouldn't have been missed any more than the carfloats.

With several major lines in serious trouble by the mid-70's, it's possible that PRR-N&W could have shed everything east of Harrisburg. The electrified freight lines might have survived with the Reading in the other camp and the Trenton Cutoff still in use. (A nice demonstration project if they'd made it to the present day, though I doubt the E-44's could have lasted that long.)

New England freight operations other than New Haven would have consolidiated in the same fashion, but a PRR not linked to NYC would have maintained its Wilkes-Barre gateway. The D&H might still be operating over Ararat Mountain. but the Lock Haven-Tyrone (Pa.) Bald Eagle Branch would likely still have been spun off in favor of a routing via Harrisburg/Enola.

We might also speculate on whether one or both of the Canadian transcons might have sought a more direct route to New York via the former LV or Erie, the implications of more direct access to Kansas City via the former Wabash, and the weakening of the Connellsville gateway with WM and P&WV in opposite camps

The final round of mergers in the 90's would have paired N&W-PRR with Southern and Chessie/NYC with Family Lines, as before.
Last edited by 2nd trick op on Wed May 24, 2006 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Pennsy was doomed

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:50 pm

The problem with Pennsy wasn't just the merger it chose with NYC and NH, but also the antiquated nature of its operations. While NYC had gone to two tracks CTC and closed many towers, PRR in the the '60s still operated with a 4 track main and fully manned towers just as it did 40 years earlier. Certainly Symes and Saunders could have eliminated towers in many places, and even signals on some of the light density branchlines. Furthermore, PRR used an older version of hump yard that was not nearly as efficient as NYC's automated yards at Frontier and Selkirk. Without modern operations, PRR could not have survived the cash drain and would have likely been bankrupt by 1972.

2nd Trick Op's analysis of the possible mergers is very astute. Except perhaps for D&H, but I believe that would be best discussed in the D&H forum. Also, NH might have eschewed NYC (as it did before) in favor of an EL connection, but that's a difficult situation to sort out, given N&H's horrible financial situation.
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