Stick with steam Pennsy!

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, November 05, 2017 9:25 AM

Or they could have done the above adapting Norfolk and Westerm's stratergy AND got the power companies to help finacnially with electrification to Pittsgurgh.

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  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, November 05, 2017 10:15 AM

Great post Miningman, but I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's the spectre lurking in the basement, unseen but still there...

Don't forget about the post-war coal miner strikes, I did a bit of research and there was at least one strike or work stoppage per year from 1945 to 1950.  Wow. By comparison, there was only one oil industry strike and that was in 1945, post V-J Day.  It was apparantly part of the post-war "strike fever" that year, and it looks like there hasn't been one since.

If coal's your fuel and you can't get it, you don't run. 

If railroads were on the edge concerning diesels, and some were, the coal strikes pushed them over that edge.  It pushed a lot of people over the edge to convert from coal to oil as a fuel.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, November 05, 2017 10:26 PM

Thanks Firelock...coal strikes definitely a factor, even the N&W did some oil conversions! Yikes.

Of course I realize my pie in the sky laments and wishing amount to less than a hill of beans, as Bogey would say. 

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Posted by Fr.Al on Monday, November 06, 2017 9:06 AM

But Mr. Klepper above has the best idea. Extend the electrification to Pittsburgh. I'm only a lightweight railfan compared to experts like him. But at the time, Pennsy's GG1'S were light years ahead of their contemporary diesels.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 06, 2017 11:47 AM

Extend the electrification to Pittsburgh.

But assuredly that would have happened if dieselization hadn't been economically perceived superior at that point.  It makes little sense to electrify the whole of Enola, the Low Grade, and the Port Road and then stop just at the point the advantages of electrification begin to be compelling.  And indeed that was the point when, even in wartime with its copper restriction so tight pennies were being made of steel, PRR started detail planning of how it would do the electrification (including a more-than-9000' tunnel under the Horse Shoe area that electrification would make possible).

Whether PRR would have capitalized on this as quickly as the New York-to-Washington line, with passenger service falling off as quickly as it did starting in the late '40s, is something of an open question, but I think some of the savings in helper/snapper operation alone might have justified it, especially with steam continuing as the means of taking freight from the various points like Lewisburg, the Sunbury and Wilkes-Barre connection, or lines west of where the Pittsburgh electrification effort stopped.

That service wouldn't have been worked with GG1s, however; all the 'new' power being designed for it followed the DD2 pattern, with larger drivers and 428A motors.  A "GG2" (matching the middle-size power described in the 1943 plan) wouldn't have had the slippery issues the DD2 did, and the specialized helpers (double-unit eight-powered axle sets with twin motors on each powered axle!) would most certainly have made quick work of any train Enola could handle on the east end, or the most advanced steam power could handle alone on the west.

I don't think there was any future in electrification much west of that point, however; by the end of 1948 most of the bugs would have been worked out of the T1s and any remaining issues of particular importance could have been addressed shortly thereafter; there was also at least the promise of Westinghouse turbine locomotives (both 4-8-4 and "4-8-0+4-8-0") to do the job.  There would surely be operational advantages in eventual electrification 'all the way to Chicago' with government pump-priming ... but the same economic revival that doomed big steam also doomed any need for large government incentive programs, and very shortly the nation discovered a far better way to subsidize great investment and growth (the 'insolent chariot' auto business on the one hand, and the Cold War response on the other).  The growth of turnpikes alone indicated much of the 'end' for northeastern railroading as it had been practiced, and even if Eisenhower hadn't indulged his dream of 1919 for good roads everywhere, it's likely something like it would become a 'defense' excuse or priority at some point.


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