Question for the "50+" crowd. (Staggers de-reg fallout)

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Question for the "50+" crowd. (Staggers de-reg fallout)
Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, August 18, 2018 3:10 AM

Probably more for the Northeast and Midwesterners, but I'd like to start a topic on the RR mess in the 1970's. ( Penn Central, EL, RDG, CNJ, LV, LHR, etc..) 

 

About 1980 the so called "Staggers"  deregulation act allowed Mass abandonments of under performing branch lines, now I miss those old rural lines, the rusty rails you would see, but never saw a train on... Yes, economically, they had to go.. but I do miss them.  There was an old remnant of an interurban line northwest of my home that used to be serving a grain elevator in Richland, MI. Only used during harvest season, the rest of the year the line was moribund. So, Conrail decided that that line had to go. And, "His will be Done".. So it was ripped off the face of the earth.. I still go by there once in a while, there is still a dip in the road where the tracks were, and, crazy as it might seem... I still brace myself for the rough crossing that hasn't been there for decades..  Yep, I miss those old branch lines.  I REALLY miss them when I see an overweight semi busting up the roads when that cargo could have gone on the rails. The rails that are no longer there. 

I guess I don't have a point to this post, I'm just venting.. 

 

Todd 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, August 18, 2018 11:16 AM

3rd rail

......There was an old remnant of an interurban line northwest of my home that used to be serving a grain elevator in Richland, MI. Only used during harvest season, the rest of the year the line was moribund. So, Conrail decided that that line had to go. And, "His will be Done".. So it was ripped off the face of the earth.. I still go by there once in a while, there is still a dip in the road where the tracks were, and, crazy as it might seem... 

I found an old map of PRR Grand Rapids Division from 1941. The original station of Kalamazoo is still in service, there were a lots of brand extension running toward Northeast from Kalamazoo in the map. Smile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, August 18, 2018 3:50 PM

I'm of two minds about this.  While I do miss the old branchlines, when they were around, they bored me.  I liked going for a daytrip down to Bellevue, Oak Harbor or Deshler where there was much more action.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, August 18, 2018 5:30 PM

Agree with that Backshop. They would have been nifty to see in operation say in the 1890's or 1920's, perhaps even during WW2. They do hold a mystery as to what was going on and why they were built, nice to ponder, daydream and imagine but after 20 minutes or so maybe move on to where the action is. Of course conveyor belts of stack trains don't really inspire too much either, but at least there is something happeneing. 

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, August 18, 2018 7:29 PM

I quit active railfanning around 15 years ago and only subscribe to Classic Trains.  The final straw for me was when CN took over the Wisconsin Central and the ex-US Steel roads.  They were my last interests, since I'm also interested in Great Lakes shipping.  I saw a natural progression from PRR/NYC to PC to Conrail but the splitup of CR ended it.  NS on Horseshoe Curve (yes, I've seen it), still seems foreign to me.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, August 18, 2018 10:46 PM

At least in Michigan, the state bought the ex-GR&I north of Grand Rapds, the NYC north of Bay City, and the Ann Arbor, although some parts of all three have since been abandoned, including car ferry operations.  Prior to that, the GR&I Falmouth branch was spun off to the shortline Cadillac & Lake City, which had freight and a steam tourist train. It was mostly dismanled in the mid 70s, but a few miles of track thru the woods somehow lasted to about 1990.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 20, 2018 9:22 PM

One point of the Staggers deregulation was to allow any 'unprofitable' branches to be spun off or sold to State agencies, or one of the shortline operating companies that could run trains with far less overhead.  Mudchicken often comments on just how quickly Conrail was willing to shuck making complete or clear transfers of title when it came time to rid itself of perceived money-pit operations, particularly in the early years when the effect of shoestring/bankrupt management left relatively little money or attention for good thinking.

If it was gotten rid of in those years, it was probably REALLY not a proposition for anyone ... even a state agency interested in subsidizing rail transportation or access to things like intermodal ramps, industrial-park developments, perhaps even fancy enterprise zones or inland ports.  That situation might have been different -- mildly different -- had the current hydraulic-fracturing boom taken hold by the early '70s.  But then the whole perceived need for Staggers and general reform of tyrannical overregulation of the Northeastern railroads that would go into Conrail might have been delayed.

Hard to say if different resolutions to the mid-'70s issue might have produced much better general results -- I for example think that if EL had remained associated with N&W under Dereco we'd have seen both the Lackawanna trackage and the relatively high-speed container bridge traffic in the Midwest prove highly useful, but there would still be quite a bit of redundant routing and trackage that would require Federal-level manipulation to get rid of.

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Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, August 25, 2018 10:53 PM

I just was remembering seeing old black PC GP-7, and 5-8 covered grain hoppers going across a grassy plain at about 10 MPH. On an old railroad that no one else  knew was there.  I Mean, sure, it was a money-losing operation, But, It was a part of my childhood, and I miss it.. It's not even a trail now, it's just plowed into oblivion in the farm fields. 

Todd

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 26, 2018 7:28 PM

My observation - Rail Management, that had only ICC forms of experience to call upon for their historical background, really did not comprehend what was involved in running a de-regulated railroad business.  They had no understanding of going out an creating transportation opportunities for new customers - it took most of the first decade after the enactment of Staggers for management to come to grips by what was meant about running a deregulated transportation company.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by 3rd rail on Thursday, August 30, 2018 10:02 PM

Well, yeah, I like to see  40 Identical trains per hour, cooking by at 60-MPH,  but there was something about those old back-woods branchlines.. Couldn't see the rails for the weeds, and the train would only go through maybe once a week.. Usually with a very old GP-7, a few cars, and a caboose.  That was a rare sighting. Plus the history of those old branchlines.   When was the last time you really listened to jointed rail? 

Todd 

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Posted by BLS53 on Thursday, September 06, 2018 12:47 AM

I've found if you know what you're looking far, Google Earth will have traces of old abandoned lines, that you would never see or notice at ground level.

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