Allen Hazen wrote:Not only was the New York Central better managed than the PRR, there's a little hearsay evidence that its managers had better interpersonal skills. I chatted with the crew of a New Haven local freight (? maybe m.o.w.? anyway, a crew that was out on the main line in West Haven CT with an Alco S-class switch engine) in probably the spring of 1969, and asked what they thought of the new management: I was told that the New York Central managers they had had contact with were all "gentlemen," but the PRR people were unpleasant and always profane in speech...
What would have happened without the merger? I find it hard to imagine any big railroad in the Northeastern U.S. making it in the long term without the Staggers Act regulatory reforms which were in part a response to the Penn Central collapse, but the New York Central would have been able to struggle along longer than the others (wasn't the Central's main line largely out of the path of the hurricane that finally did in the Erie-Lackawanna?). But it was struggling: nowhere near as much deferred maintenance as on the PRR, but wasn't, e.g., the track on the West Shore pretty decrepit in the 1970s?
The 70's equals Penn Central at least until 1976. After the Penn Central took over the New Haven traffic doubled and then
even increased some more as a result of the rerouting of all of the freight traffic away from the car float operation into Bay
Ridge. The shifting traffic pattern made lots of sense because all of the New Haven was accessible from the Boston and
Albany at Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Framingham. More traffic is east - west rather than north - south and for
east - west traffic the former New York Central was by far the best route and Selkirk was the logical gateway to the former
New Haven territory.
Maybrook was kept open for traffic routed via the EL or the B & O but both routes were inferior to the former New York
Central and the Penn Central did not want to short haul itself by keeping much traffic on the Maybrook Line. I think the
only question here is how much longer the Maybrook Line would have survived if the fire had not occurred in 1974. I have to
think that the Maybrook Line would not have remained in operation for too much longer even if the fire had not occurred.
The only thing that might have saved this line would have been if the Penn Central could have gotten their hands on the
Lehigh and Hudson River and thus have a one line operation from New Jersey to Connecticut but this did not happen. Even
that would probably only prolong the end but not saved the line.