Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by CSXT 4617
The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of my favorite railroads that ever existed. Heck, it was my number one and still is my favorite common carrier that was. In my honest opinion the railroad had some of the best examples of motive power on its lines. The railroad not only had good engines, but decided to experiment with designs that for the most part made a difference in service along the railroad. Not only did they build most of their engines, they also built their own coaches, freight cars and cabin cars (the term the Pennsylvania used for more than 1 caboose). The Pennsylvania was also a pioneer in the mode of truck trailer deliveries. The PRR Truc-Train was a train ahead of its time. If the Pennsylvania and the good old Norfolk & Western hadn't worked together on such a great idea, TTX probably wouldn't exist today in the way it does. Besides good freight and passenger service, the railroad also was very open minded to preserving examples of their steam locomotives and even electric locomotives. Now onto "Pennsy in the Modern Era."
If the Pennsylvania Railroad was still an active railroad things would be so different. Modern horsepower running on long modern freights and of course plenty of steam powered excursions. The GE Evolution units powering long and I mean long freight trains along the main line, and the main line would still be 4 tracks. The old classic PRR position light signals would still be up and the electrics would be doing all sorts of work.
Personally, I think the Pennsylvania Railroad's electrification was great. But, the railroad should've pushed further with electrification as far as Chicago and St. Louis. The GG-1 in Saint Louis, would've been a site to see. But, I can't go back in time and change what the good old PRR did.
I wish the Pennsylvania Railroad had worked west of Chicago as well, by building a main line from Chicago to Los Angeles, that would've made Pennsy a strong competitor against the AT&SF, SP and of course, UP. That would be a site to behold. Passenger trains like the Broadway Limited running from New York to Los Angeles behind K-4s. The railroad would've operated all types of steam locomotives and do all sorts of passenger jobs across its system and well, the railroad would give all the railroads in areas where it could've ran, a run for their money.
  by cavranger
Wow what a great post I came a crossed by accident! The Pennsy would have had to do a lot to continue operations past 1968 and avoid a merger with the Central. Management is to blame, Saunders was an idiot, that we all seem to agree upon. Pennsy needed to modernize, it was the 60's and they still operated as they did in the 20's. Central had it right, reduce unnecessary track age, CTC, consolidate facilities. If the Pennsy would have modernized, reduced cost, eliminated certain unprofitable passenger trains (The Broadway Limited for one, which never made money) and sucked up it's pride, it would have been a great start.
If you all remember, Pennsy owned a number of railroads or had considerable stock in them, N&W, Wabash, DT&I to name a few. What if Penny got its act together in the early 60s and instead of selling the N&W so they could merge with NKP/Wabash/ACY, what if they (PRR) merged with the N&W/Wabash/DT&I?
Good marketing, aggressive management and the right mindset for future operations could have had the Pennsy in today's newspapers leading the way much the same way as UP does.

Oh, a contributor to this post mentioned earlier how the B&O worked its way out of the hole in the early 60s, I must remind you all that the C&O took over the B&O in the early 60s and pumped millions of dollars into the B&O infrastructure to increase tunnel clearances and upgrade track and facilities so I don't think the B&O is a good example of Langdon's management skills.
  by jadebullet2
Really, one of the only real possibilities that I could see that would come out of this and leave things at least relatively unscathed would be a scenario like this.

PRR never merges. This keeps PC from dragging the rest of the Pennsylvanian roads down with it.
PRR cuts the LVRR loose.
B&O backs the Reading, and eventually absorbs it, the LVRR(now a RDG subsidiary), and CNJ into Chessie. Redundant lines are removed.
Meanwhile, the PRR continues to flounder from over expansion, especially in the midwest. As does the NYC. Competition from the consolidated Chessie trunk hurts PRR and NYC even more.
NYC joins the Chessie trunk, with redundant lines being removed.
B&M, facing multiple bankruptcies at this time, joins the Chessie System as well. (This one is hard to swing though. They had the opportunity to join Conrail in real life, but they declined.)
Hurricane Agnes ruins everyone's day.
The EL, and LHRR join the trunk due to Agnes damage.
PRR begins a firesale of all non essential branches in order to cut costs. Extra equipment begins to cannibalize as maintenance breaks down.
The 1980 deregulation of the railroads hopefully still goes through without Conrail.
PRR either folds, survives, or merges after this point.

Things that I based this scenario on:
There was talk of a RDG B&O merger/joining thing.
There was talk of a RDG/CNJ/LVRR merger
Reading and EL probably could have recovered, had they not been forced into Conrail
The PRR and NYC were having severe financial problems when it came to maintaining their large rail empire and locomotive fleets.
The NYC was more likely to join the trunk than the PRR would be.
  by Pensey GG1
I don't think that it would have been possible for the Pensey to survive without some form of either mergers of acquisitions. The reason is that today's routes are longer and handle heavier tonnages than ever before, and shorter hauls are typically handled by trucks, other than coal, stone, or other large commodity quantities.

The Pensey, although it didn't survive as a company, did survive as a physical railroad and is going strong today. It could have happened many different ways, but one way or another, they would have gotten to four or five major carriers. The only major difference in the way railroads are today that I could see being very plausible is to have a fifth railroad that is between a regional and a class 1 east of the Hudson since that's such a clean division.
  by Alcophile
The PRR would have run into serious trouble. By the 1970's it would be apparent that NYC was going to be the big name in Intermodal and would be showing signs of revitalization, the NYC would then join the Chessie to build up a combined Coal/Intermodal road, like the proposed CSX-Conrail merger in the 90's. The PRR would have given up and probably file for bankruptcy. The N&W would not be interested as they would have taken EL for Intermodal just as Chessie has taken over the NYC. CPR after acquiring the TH&B would take LV and D&H to reach New York. The government would step in and take over the B&M, CNJ, L&HR, NH, NYS&W and PRR. Reading would join Chessie if you're wondering. Much of Conrail (B&M-CNJ-L&HR-NH-NYS&W-PRR) would be torn up with the PRR New York-Chicago main surviving, the NEC (probably now Amtrak), the NH main and the B&M main. Most of the CNJ, L&HR and NYS&W torn up.
  by Missyg24
If PRR was still round. I'd love to ride the line from altoona>state college>williamsport>elmira>watkins glen. or from williamsport>northumberland down to Harrisburg. cuz i been on the Pittsburgh line b4.


  by 25Hz
drewh wrote:If the PRR had wanted to electrify further territory, it would have immediately following WWII. If traffic had warranted it, they would have done HAR-PIT.

As noted above however, the corporation was already in decline and they didn't have the resources. IMO, none of the RR's including PRR & NYC, ever recovered from the excessive strains put on the infrastructure because of WWII. And the US govt never helped them rebuild - instead we rebuilt the Euro RR's under the Marshall plan.

Sad that we helped build the Euro & Japaneese RR's into what they are today, but yet we have nothing here in the US. (And I don't think the NEC qualifies in any comparison of HSR around the world - even though it is the best we have).
I think i agree here. Not only Marshall plan, but then the NIDH (interstate highway act) as well. At this point the railroads were really in no shape either managerially or physically to survive in (then) present form going forward.
  by Tadman
If PRR was still around, it would've been subject to a bailout the likes of which haven't been seen since GM's bailout/bankruptcy/reorg. In other words, not just your standard reorg but a gov't overseen one.

You'd have to do that because there were so many problems with the company. The operations model was from 1900, the labor was combative, the passenger trains were rampant, the equipment was in rough shape...

I tend to agree with the long post earlier about Stu Saunders. He was afraid of his own shadow. He let everybody walk all over him, from labor and gov't to his own CFO, David Bevan, and COO, Al Perlman. Fortunately, Perlman had good intentions for the railroad. Bevan didn't, he chose to spend money on pet "diversification" projects in hopes they would float the company.

The problem with Bevan's diversification projects was that most were token businesses, nowhere near capable of floating the giant PRR/PC organization. The effect was that of running a venture capital firm, where portfolio companies needed capital, and it was siphoned off from PC. This is as opposed to the idea of running a private equity firm like Berkshire, where mature and well-run portfolio companies throw off cash, enriching the parent. Further, we've learned that large conglomerates (of big profitable companies) such as LTV didn't do much for share value or profits, and did accumulate too much debt.

In other words, if PRR made it to 2013, it would look a bit like Conrail with brunswick green diesels. Think about it - Conrail was a government-supervised bankruptcy and reorg that stretched over ten years (after that it was privatized and profitable) with a new brand name. The management, from PRR through PC to Conrail, was weighted toward PRR. The headquarters was always in Philly.
  by ExCon90
Their dogged insistence on trying to refine and improve steam locomotives when Western roads were discovering the benefits of dieselization was one of the things that dragged them down. I'm trying to remember where I read that when J. M. Symes was a regional vice president in Chicago and dealt regularly with the Western connections he kept reporting to headquarters what good results the Western roads were getting with diesels, such as less time in the shop and more on the road, but Philadelphia and Altoona didn't want to hear it.
  by philipmartin
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