I was reading The Men Who Loved Trains, and I read about the MARC-EL. Later on, EL got wiped out by the storm, and had to file bankruptsy. This was when the controlled transfer idea came in.N&W wanted no part of it, as Fishwick called everything east of Buffalo and Pittsburgh a sinkhole.
I realize that the property values vary in NYS. Many EL employees did live in the NYC metro area. I live in Saratoga Springs, which is not as costly as the NYC area, but is still pricy. 20 miles away, the Mohawk Valley is much cheaper, but my point is that things are generally more expensive than most of the south.
One of my conductors had gone to college in the south. One day we had some NS power, which have more spartan cab appointments than ours. He pointed out the militant attitude of NS management, and said, "If you want to work here, and buy your food down at the the Piggly Wiggly, you'll do just exactly what we say. If not you can got back to dirt farming."
I don't think that all of the EL would have survived even if MARC-EL or C&O had bought it. There were simply too many lines. The unions wanted the best contract for the members. That means a wage which would be livable in the northeast.