Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The New York Central Railroad. Part Five.

NYC Hudson Locomotive, built with iconic Streamlining
designed by Henry Dreyfuss, used to haul
The 20th Century Limited Train, starting in 1938.
Photo courtesy SMU.
Date: 1938.
Source: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library: Robert Yarnall Richie Photographs. Retrieved from FlickrHudson Locomotive for The New York Central.
Author: Robert Yarnall Richie (1908-1984).
(Wikimedia Commons)

English: Grand Central Station Terminal,
42nd Street, New York,
United States of America.
Français: Vue extérieure nocturne de la gare
Grand Central Terminal sur l'ile de Manhattan, à New-York (États-Unis).
Date: 1/08.
Source: Own work.
Author: Fcb981 ; Eric Baetscher (attribution required).
(Wikimedia Commons)

Perlman's cuts resulted in the curtailing of many of the Railroad's Services; Commuter Lines around New York were particularly affected. In 1958-1959, Service was suspended on The NYC's Putnam Division in Westchester and Putnam Counties, and The NYC abandoned its Ferry Service, across The Hudson, to Weehawken Terminal. This negatively impacted the Railroad's West Shore Line, which ran along The West Bank of The Hudson River from Jersey City to Albany, which saw Long-Distance Services to Albany discontinued in 1958 and Commuter Service between Jersey City and West Haverstraw, New York, terminated in 1959. Ridding itself of most of its Commuter Services proved impossible, due to the heavy use of these Lines around Metro New York, which Government mandated the Railroad still operate.

The New York Central Railroad's Streamlined Steam Locomotive, "Commodore Vanderbilt",
as it left Chicago's LaSalle Street Station pulling "The 20th Century Limited" Train.
Photo: 22 February 1935.
Source: eBay
Author: International News Photos.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Many Long-Distance and Regional-Haul Passenger Trains were either discontinued or downgraded in Service, with Coaches replacing Pullman, Parlour, and Sleeping Cars on routes in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The Empire Corridor, between Albany and Buffalo, saw Service greatly reduced, with Service beyond Buffalo to Niagara Falls discontinued in 1961. On 3 December 1967, most of the great Long-Distance Trains ended, including the famed "Twentieth Century Limited". The Railroad's Branch Line Service, off The Empire Corridor in Upstate New York, was also gradually discontinued, the last being its Utica Branch between Utica and Lake Placid, in 1965. Many of the Railroad's great Train Stations, in Rochester, Schenectady, and Albany, were demolished or abandoned. Despite the savings these cuts created, it was apparent that, if the Railroad was to become solvent again, a more permanent solution was needed.

Four Trains on The New York Central Main Line,
in Little Falls, New York. Promotional picture taken in 1890.

One problem that many of the North-Eastern Railroads faced was the fact that the Railroad Market was saturated for the dwindling Rail Traffic that remained. The NYC had to compete with its two biggest rivals: The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), and The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B and O), in addition to more moderate-size Railroads, such as The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad (DLW), The Erie Railroad, The Reading Company, The Central Railroad of New Jersey, and The Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Mergers of these Railroads seemed a promising way for these Companies to streamline operations and reduce the competition. The DLW and Erie Railroads had showed some success when they began merging their operations in 1956, finally leading to the formation of The Erie Lackawanna Railroad in 1960. Other mergers combined The Virginian RailwayWabash RailroadNickel Plate Road and several others into The Norfolk and Western Railway (N and W) System, and The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B and O), Western Maryland Railroad (WM), and Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C and O) combined with others to form The Chessie System. Heavy streamlining and reduction in Passenger Services led to the success of many of these mergers.

Postal Cover, carried in the Railway Post Office on the first Streamlined run of
"The 20th Century Limited" Train (New York Central System), 15 June 1938.
Source: The Cooper Collection of Railroad Postal History.
Author: U.S. Government.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Following this trend, The NYC began to look for a potential Railroad to merge with, as early as the mid-1950s, and had originally sought out mergers with the B and O, and the NYC-controlled Nickel Plate Road. Unlike the aforementioned mergers, however, a NYC merger proved tricky, due to the fact that the Railroad still operated a fairly extensive amount of Regional and Commuter Passenger Services that were under mandates by The Interstate Commerce Commission to maintain.It soon became apparent that the only other Railroad with enough capital to allow for a potentially successful merger proved to be The NYC's chief rival, The Pennsylvania Railroad (The PRR), itself a Railroad that still had a large Passenger trade. Merger talks between the two Railroads were discussed as early as 1955; however, this was delayed due to a number of factors: Among them, interference by The Interstate Commerce Commission; objections from Operating Unions; concerns from competing Railroads; and the inability of the two Companies, themselves, to formulate a merger plan, thus delaying progress for over a decade.

Two major points of contention centered around which Railroad should have the majority controlling interest going into the merger. Perlman's cost-cutting, during the '50s and '60s, put The NYC in a more financially healthy situation than The PRR. Nevertheless, The ICC, with urging by PRR President Stuart Saunders, wanted The PRR to absorb The NYC. Another point centered around The ICC's wanting to force the bankrupt New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, better known as The New Haven, into the new System, which it did in 1969, something to which both Companies objected. Eventually, both points would ultimately lead to the new Penn Central's demise.

Part of "The 20th Century Limited's" carpet, next to that Train's Observation Car
"Hickory Creek", at Track 35, Grand Central Terminal, New York,
across the Platform from the Train's original departure site at Track 34.
Photo: 12 May 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Rickyrab.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In December, 1967, The New York Central published its last public timetable. The final timetable revealed a drastically-truncated Passenger Schedule in anticipation of its merger with The PRR. Most De-Luxe, Long-Distance, Passenger Trains ended on 3 December 1967, including the famed 20th Century Limited. Only those Trains which were to be continued after the merger with The PRR were retained, along with the Railroad's Commuter Trains.


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