If you were around back in the early to mid 1960s, you know there was an inevitability about the Penn Central merger. At a certain point you had to make peace with it and accept the fact it was
going to happen.
As a fan, if you followed the industry news, you could see events moving towards Penn Central. Perlman calling off the first Pennsylvania-New York Central merger in 1959 to pursue a merger with B&O and then C&O+B&O, and then being rebuffed. Losing the proxy fight for B&O shareholder votes. N&W gathering in NKP and Wabash.
I don't think N&W wanted a merger with Pennsylvania anymore than C&O wanted NYC. The two giant Eastern roads became the two biggest wallflowers at the merger dance. No other railroad wanted them. So after Perlman realized C&O+B&O+NYC was not going to happen, and fearful that Pennsy might yet somehow wangle it's way into a PRR+expanded N&W merger, Perlman restarted the PRR+NYC proposal.
It was inevitable. Nothing could or would have stopped it from happening.
After a time the people at the top even seemed to convince themselves it would work. The NYC employees I knew -- mostly rank-and-file guys -- thought it was insane.
Blame it on the times.