Replaced by Electricity

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 5:06 PM

I think the gentleman exagerrated a bit when he said electrification prevented the government from taking over the railroads in WW2 as they did in WW1.  A lot of things caused the problems of rail traffic during the First World War, primarily the country's unpreparedness as a whole.  By 1940 both the government and the railroads had a good idea trouble was coming and had learned the lessons of WW1 and how to avoid the mess.  

That being said, it is true that a lot of railroads saw electrification as a Godsend once the technology was perfected, superb efficiency without all the hassles of steam.  At least until they found out how much it was going to cost!  Ouch!  

Yeah, that last photo was depressing all right.  Crying

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, July 31, 2020 5:23 AM

Flintlock76
I think the gentleman exaggerated a bit when he said electrification prevented the government from taking over the railroads in WW2 as they did in WW1. 

I do think there's a little 'hyperbole of the facts' going on either in the comment or in AC's somewhat '40s-troll story rhetoric in recounting it.  On the other hand, even the earliest scholarly analysis of the USRA wouldn't be done for another 2 decades, so it's understandable that some odd interpretations of assumption of 'Federal control' might be made then.

The real story can almost be constructed looking at the circumstances in 1916 and 1917 ... and some of the previous history of pooling and other 'arrangements' that Congress had decided to hammer when the railroads were nearly a monopoly for most shippers.  As has been pointed out, perhaps the biggest issue was one that had previously been little more than a nuisance: priority routing of empty non-revenue moves away from terminals seeing a high volume of high-priority inbound delivery.  Another big issue was the speed with which loads were actually cleared from 'priority' cars as delivered ... backlogs in additional warehouse or crossdock capacity, to say nothing of ship loading, meant that demurrage became a pathetically small price to pay for wht might be extended 'storage' with the railroads having no recourse to raise fees or compel release either of 'their' cars or other cars on their lines.

There were, in fact, attempts to pool recovery and delivery of empties on coherent basis.   These were slapped down as violating earlier legislation against 'collusion'.  Wilson himself justified the imposition of national control by saying it made legal the step that railroads under private control could not take.

Of course the idea ballooned into the usual Progressive idea of fixing all sorts of problems, squeakiest perceived priorities first but then responding a bit facilely to 'changes in squeakiness'.  The way in which many lines were allowed to be progressively damaged or inadequately maintained, which cost the Government so much in claims after 1920, is one example; the push to standardized new locomotive designs is often mentioned as another. 

This was a known and remembered issue going into WWII, and the railroads in all the terminal areas carefully managed it with the Government doing little more thn overhead traffic allocation for example via the ODT, and new power management via the WPB.  Now in this sense the presence of the high-capacity electric infrastructure and multiple routes PRR had almost just finished electrifying was important... but not with regard to terminal switching; PRR's electric switchers were comparatively noisy and slow, and notably the only proposals for better switchers in that era were oil-fired steam. 

likewise for the entire duration of the War there was no attempt to do more than planning for extension of electrification where it would really have relieved congestion, any of the key parts from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg.  That job in fact was done, sometimes with amusing fumbling, by steam -- and done remarkably well albeit more easily than the same would likely have been for east-end train handling, engine servicing in particular.  (It would have been vastly facilitated by diesels, of course, had the electrification not been in being...)

One has to wonder, at least, at the prospect of the WPB authorizing construction of the perfectly legacy-design Essl 6000hp locomotives for PRR instead of restricting Baldwin road-diesel production.  Those were perhaps the ultimate in fuel-conserving power at very high speed -- and if the first-cost considerations for locomotives and spare 'modules' were relieved,  these could have stood in for full GG1-equivalents over most of the main line work electrified after 1928; it might have been amusing to see a third-rail variant built for third-rail capability had there been no full AC between New York an Philadelphia...  

Frankly I look at all those wretched little 2-8-0s and shudder at the prospect that they, not P5s and GG1s, would have been waddling along bashing track in wartime.  

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 6:16 AM

Donald Dohner's design of the GG1:

R1 testing on shape curve:

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 9:07 AM

Thanks Mr. Jones!

I believe there was an article in "Classic Trains" several years ago telling the Donald Dohner / GG1 design story.  A good one too, giving long-due recognition to Mr. Dohner.

Making a long story short, it was Donald Dohner who did most of the design work on the GG1 (as we can see) but it was Raymond Loewy who took it the rest of the way, giving us the GG1 as we know it. 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 3:44 PM

Flintlock76

Thanks Mr. Jones!

I believe there was an article in "Classic Trains" several years ago telling the Donald Dohner / GG1 design story.  A good one too, giving long-due recognition to Mr. Dohner.

Making a long story short, it was Donald Dohner who did most of the design work on the GG1 (as we can see) but it was Raymond Loewy who took it the rest of the way, giving us the GG1 as we know it. 

Yes, Donald Dohner's design became the first GG1, R1 and 28 P5a (modified). I prefer Dohner's design to Loewy's version, they are some of the most good looking streamlined electric engines in the world. Raymond Loewy's GG1 design is great but it looks too smooth for my taste.

Although Pennsy didn't have a huge fleet of streamlined steam engine until mid-1940, they had these capable and handsome streamlined electric engines serving metropolis on the East Coast since mid-1930. 

 

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