• Causes of Souther Pacific failure

  • This forum is for discussion of "Fallen Flag" roads not otherwise provided with a specific forum. Fallen Flags are roads that no longer operate, went bankrupt, or were acquired or merged out of existence.
This forum is for discussion of "Fallen Flag" roads not otherwise provided with a specific forum. Fallen Flags are roads that no longer operate, went bankrupt, or were acquired or merged out of existence.

Moderator: Nicolai3985

  by NotYou
 
Have read many times the Southern Pacific failed due to bad finances, but haven't read about specifics such as: bad routes, bad service, short hauled, or any specifics really.

Anyone know the specifics or know any good resources to point me to? Books, documentaries, websites: all fine by me.
  by edbear
 
Southern Pacific kind of got surrounded. Union Pacific got the Western Pacific, so it got a tough competitor for the Overland Route. Next UP got the MP, so that SP now had strong competition at Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso. The old friendly MP route through Pueblo which sent traffic to the DRGW through to Salt Lake & Ogden dried up.
  by eolesen
 
It didn't help matters that they tried to merge with the ATSF and the STB & DOJ turned that down. That's how SP wound up being sold to the DRGW.
  by NotYou
 
Know about the failed merger w/ ATSF. Guess being acquired by DRGW didn't do much to improve the bottom line.
  by ExCon90
 
If you're looking for specific books or articles, you might try (if you haven't already) the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society at sphts.org.
  by JayBee
 
NotYou wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 10:23 pm Have read many times the Southern Pacific failed due to bad finances, but haven't read about specifics such as: bad routes, bad service, short hauled, or any specifics really.

Anyone know the specifics or know any good resources to point me to? Books, documentaries, websites: all fine by me.
To give you an idea of what happened all you have to do is look at what happened to SP's Perishable and Auto Industries. In the 1950's and early sixties SP was moving solid trains of fruit out of California every day, some over Donner Pass, and some via the Golden State and Sunset routes. Almost all gone now. Then there was the Automotive business, auto parts hauled in from the Midwest, and a portion of the finished cars hauled out. There were at least four auto assembly plants in California GM had plants at Fremont (Bay Area), Southgate (LA area) and Van Nuys (LA area). Ford had an Assembly plant at Milpitas (Bay area) all of these plants consumed trains of auto parts and shipped out at least a portion of the finished cars back east. All of these plants were closed. The Fremont plant is now owned by Tesla and it ships out some finished cars, but the plant was closed for nearly a decade. And then there are the smaller businesses that have closed or moved.
  by JayBee
 
NotYou wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 10:23 pm Have read many times the Southern Pacific failed due to bad finances, but haven't read about specifics such as: bad routes, bad service, short hauled, or any specifics really.

Anyone know the specifics or know any good resources to point me to? Books, documentaries, websites: all fine by me.
If you really want to understand the Southern Pacific the best source is on the pay forum "Trainorders". In a long running series of posts Michael D. Ongerth (posts as MDO, his initials) has a series of postings headed Mad Dog Chronicles covering his time from Management Trainee all the way up the management ranks to Vice President of Transportation at SP. He finished his career at UP as Vice President of Passenger Operations. Along the way you will meet all the characters who constituted SP upper management from Ben Biaggini, to Robert Krebs and other notables. The Mad Dog chronicles are currently up to #321 posted yesterday. Many other former members of SP management frequently chime in with their thoughts. SP managers like Dispatchers are often referred to by their three initials so Mike is MDO, Rollin Bredenberg is RDB, Robert Krebs is RDK, etc.

https://www.trainorders.com/
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Is it true that in the 1996 merger, SP actually took over UP, with SP (the surviving company) renaming
under UP? If so, post-1996 UP is SP under the UP name.

JayBee wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 5:26 pm Then there was the Automotive business, auto parts hauled in from the Midwest, and finished cars hauled out. There were at least four auto assembly plants in California GM had plants at Fremont (Bay Area), Southgate (LA area) and Van Nuys (LA area). Ford had an Assembly plant at Milpitas (Bay area) all of these plants consumed trains of auto parts and shipped out at least a portion of the
finished cars back east. All of these plants closed. The Fremont plant is now owned by Tesla.
Chrysler had a Los Angeles plant (outside city limits) until 1971, the plant peaked in 1965. One reason for its closure was that "changes in the shipping of new cars, particularly tri-level railroad carriers, made the Los Angeles operation increasingly uneconomical".

Nash Motors was in El Segundo (now a Boeing plant) until 1955, that and the Toronto plant were closed to consolidate in Kenosha after the AMC merger. Kaiser and Studebaker also had assembly facilities at Long Beach. Ford was also in Long Beach. San Jose (Milpitas) built many early Mustangs, including supplying the Shelby fastback shells.

In early years, west coast assembly plants were satellite facilities of Detroit, receiving incomplete knock-down
shells and parts for local assembly.
  by D Alex
 
Here in the northeast, we are well-acquainted with the problem of "one railroad too many" for a given area. In the west, SP became the 'red-headed stepchild' of larger, better funded roads. UP is an absolute colossus, with easily the best route to the west coast, and the ATSF benefitted from federal investment during WW2 more than any other railroad. Had ATSF NOT been spoon-fed during the war, a merger between the 2 would've probably been a good idea.
Also, just like certain lesser mid-west railroads, they tried getting business by undercutting the competition and running the works into the ground. It worked for most of a decade, but when a recession came, business went down, and now the infrastructure was worn-out and nobody was willing to invest in them.
  by eolesen
 
Not so sure SP existed by 1996 unless it was an empty shell following the merger into Anschutz and the DRGW. SP was bought in 1988, so it stopped existing as a standalone company 8 years before Anschutz sold to UP.

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