Penn Central Service? NOT!

Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

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ThePointyHairedBoss

Penn Central Service? NOT!

Post by ThePointyHairedBoss » Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:33 pm

One Word:Lousy! :wink:

I was reading Richard Saunders Jr.'s book "Merging Lines" today, when came upon what customer service meant to PC:

Case 1:Krouger supermarkets requested cantaloupes to be delivered Via. the PC to Indianapolis. PC routed the cars to Pittsburgh, and when they were retrieved, the fruit had spoiled, a total loss of $9,000.

Case 2:In the Dewitt Yard, a carload of live hogs was left in the summer heat. The car got lost, leading to 54 of the pigs dying. :( RIP

Case 3:A batch of fresh fruit was coming in from California, but PC sent them back, misclassifying them as empties. The cargo was once again, a loss.

Case 4:Eli Lilly ordered a car of frozen animal glands, but due to a 27 day delay, the contents had thawed, a loss of $15,000.

Case 5:9 racks of Cadillac's were lost after being pulled from a conjested yard onto a siding. The cars were lost, when months later, they were found, derailed.

Now, this last case is interesting. My grandmother worked at Pacific Molasses in New York City during the PC era, and this story strikes me as the ultimate in negligence and bad planning.

Case 6:Pacific Molasses ordered an empty tank car to be filled with molasses. Penn Central grabbed one, but when it arrived, it turned out to have been used in Oil Service before. The car was tainted with reeking oil residue, and the plant sued. Afterwards, they either switched to truck or to another railroad.

This proves why service is so important, if you don't deliver the goods(no pun intended :wink: ), your customers will desert you faster than you can say "Conrail."

Noel Weaver
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Post by Noel Weaver » Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:49 am

This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Many loads were either mis-
routed or lost. Many a load of new automobiles were destroyed in a
derailment and the landscape everywhere was decorated with derailed
cars.
It was very sad and our jobs depended on this railroad.
Noel Weaver

Penn Central
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Post by Penn Central » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:46 am

Both the NYC and PRR had computer systems that could track cars in 1968. Unfortunately, the systems were not compatible. When cars traveled across lines, they frequently got lost. It was soo bad, that some customers actually sent employees out to the rail yards to look for their cars.

The story of the dead hogs reminded me of working at Waverly Yard which was located near one of the Newark slaughter houses. The stench was horrendous.

ThePointyHairedBoss

Post by ThePointyHairedBoss » Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:55 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Many loads were either mis-
routed or lost. Many a load of new automobiles were destroyed in a
derailment and the landscape everywhere was decorated with derailed
cars.
It was very sad and our jobs depended on this railroad.
Noel Weaver
You worked for PC? :o

Dieter
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Post by Dieter » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:01 pm

So, it looks like the conspiracy to kill passenger service bled into freight service? Amazing. Talk about a disenfranchised work force.

D/
Video
If the problem is Digital,
The Solution is ANALOG!!

Noel Weaver
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Post by Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:34 pm

The biggest benefit that I received from Penn Central after their takeover
of the New Haven was the system pass signed by A. Perlman and good
from Boston to Chicago, St. Louis and everything in between in all
directions.
It was all downhill after that.
Uphill slow, downhill fast, tonnage first, safety last.
Noel Weaver

QB 52.32
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Post by QB 52.32 » Thu May 01, 2008 5:01 am

There's no doubt that Penn Central was a debacle for a desperate industry, at least east of the Mississippi, and merging these two railroads lead to lots of problems, not the least with their service. But, if you think about it, some 30 years later the UP/SP and Conrail break-up proved to be difficult, with lots of service problems, despite much more advanced information technology, the benefits of relaxed government regulation and more-favorable labor agreements, and the Penn Central case study from which the 1990's managers had plenty of forewarning.

Perhaps some part of this Penn Central meltdown was related to the complex organizational nature of large-scale railroading than simply PC's management.

Dieter
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Post by Dieter » Thu May 01, 2008 2:23 pm

The best deal for any of them at that time would have been marriages with virtually anyone BUT.

Combos that may have had success;

NYC & ATSF

PRR & SCL

NYC & IC

PRR & IC

NYC & Southern

PRR & UP

NYC & GN

PRR & Burlington

NYC & C&O (Ummmm.....)

PRR & N&W (Choke!)

Am I getting warmer?

D/
Video
If the problem is Digital,
The Solution is ANALOG!!

Noel Weaver
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Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Post by Noel Weaver » Fri May 02, 2008 6:42 am

Dieter wrote:The best deal for any of them at that time would have been marriages with virtually anyone BUT.

Combos that may have had success;

NYC & ATSF

PRR & SCL

NYC & IC

PRR & IC

NYC & Southern

PRR & UP

NYC & GN

PRR & Burlington

NYC & C&O (Ummmm.....)

PRR & N&W (Choke!)

Am I getting warmer?

D/
Most of these you could choke on.
Noel Weaver

ccaranna

Post by ccaranna » Sat May 03, 2008 10:45 am

PRR+N&W and NYC+C&O would have been the best for all involved, however nobody wanted to touch NYC and PRR with a ten-foot rail.

The way the mergers of the 60s worked out, it's no surprise that PC failed miserably. I believe that everyone knew its disaster was imminent as early as 1964, four years before the actual marriage.

And out of all of this mess, B&O got away pretty cleanly.

The interesting thing is, all of this "what could have been if" talk is moot considering that NS (N&W) and CSX (C&O) wound up owning half of what was left of PRR and NYC anyway.

rrboomer
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Aromatic "mtys"

Post by rrboomer » Sun May 04, 2008 4:51 pm

In the early '70's Rock Island would collect empty UPFE and SPFE reefers home routed from the PC at South Chicago. The plan was to run a west train of about 125 cars on a Friday or Saturday night when commuter E-8's or FP-7's available.

While the carmen were working the train the special agent would walk train also, checking car seals to see if each car was really empty. He would always find at least one car that had never been unloaded in the NY/NJ area.

BR&P
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Post by BR&P » Wed May 07, 2008 9:22 pm

The chaos was amazing, especially near the beginning. Large blocks of cars without bills or with just pencil-written running slips would be sent from Buffalo to Rochester. Rochester would ship them to Dewitt. Dewitt would send them to Selkirk. Selkirk would return them to Dewitt. You get the idea - the same cars would wander up and down the system repeatedly. When a car turned up with no idea what it was, it was easier to send it on to some other place than figure out what it was. The Car Tracer's job was overwhelmed, with whole tracks of cars waiting to be identified.

One old timer used to frequently remark "We went from 'Road To The Future' to "Road To The Sh*thouse' "

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Otto Vondrak
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Post by Otto Vondrak » Tue May 13, 2008 8:58 am

ThePointyHairedBoss- The Penn Central is an easy target when we're talking about bad service, but remember that there were hard working folks who tried the best they could under the conditions. This wasn't an army of misfits looking to intentionally run the railroad into the ground. You had so many factors that contributed to mess, from incompatible computer tracing systems, to poor track and equipment, to an upper level management that was too busy re-arranging the deck chairs to take action against the impending iceberg.

-otto-
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lvrr325
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Re: Penn Central Service? NOT!

Post by lvrr325 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:41 pm

In fact, in the late 50's when the merger mania started, the NYC wanted to merge with the C&O/B&O. There was some talk of a PRR-N&W coupling, too. Dig out your 1958 back issues of Trains Magazine for the confirmation.

Penn Central
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Re:

Post by Penn Central » Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:28 am

Noel Weaver wrote:The biggest benefit that I received from Penn Central after their takeover
of the New Haven was the system pass signed by A. Perlman and good
from Boston to Chicago, St. Louis and everything in between in all
directions.
I still have my first pass from 1971. Because I was hired after the merger, mine had a slash with: LINES EAST OF BUFFALO and Not Good On Metroliners.

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