Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Monday, 18 January 2016

The New York Central Railroad. Part Four.

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)

The New York Central Railroad, like many U.S. Railroads, declined after The Second World War. Problems re-surfaced that had plagued The Railroad Industry before the War, such as over-regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which severely regulated the rates charged by the Railroad, along with continuing competition from automobiles. These problems were coupled with even more formidable forms of competition, such as airline service in the 1950s, that began to deprive the NYC of its long-distance Passenger Trade.

"The 20th Century Limited" of The Boston and Albany Railroad, prior to 1920, from [1]
This Train was a famous New York Central Railroad Train which ran from 1902-1967.
This image is available from The United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division, under the digital ID det.4a33145.
This File: 20 October 2011.
User: Centpacrr.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 helped create a network of efficient roads for motor vehicle travel through the Country, enticing more people to travel by car, as well as haul freight by truck. The 1959 opening of The Saint Lawrence Seaway adversely affected NYC freight business. Container shipments could now be directly shipped to ports along The Great Lakes, eliminating the Railroads' Freight hauls between the East and The Midwest.

The NYC also carried a substantial tax burden from governments that saw Rail Infrastructure as a source of property tax revenues: taxes that were not imposed upon Interstate Highways. To make matters worse, most Railroads, including the NYC, were saddled with a World War II–era tax of 15% on Passenger Fares, which remained until 1962, seventeen years after the end of the War.

In June 1954, management of The New York Central System lost a proxy fight to Robert Ralph Young and The Alleghany Corporation, that he led.

1912 advertisement for The New York Central's, New York - Chicago Express Train,
"The 20th Century Limited", as "The Most Famous Train In The World".
Date: 1912. Scanned 1 June 2013 (according to Exif data).
Source: Advertisement.
Author: Unknown.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Alleghany Corporation was a Real Estate and Railroad empire built by the Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland, in the 1920s, that had controlled The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and The Nickel Plate Road. It fell under the control of Young and financier Allan Price Kirby during The Great Depression.

R. R. Young was considered a Railroad visionary, but found The New York Central in worse shape than he had imagined. Unable to keep his promises, Young was forced to suspend dividend payments in January, 1958. He committed suicide later that month.

After his suicide, Young's role in NYC management was assumed by Alfred E. Perlman, who had been working with the NYC, under Young, since 1954. Despite the dismal financial condition of the Railroad, Perlman was able to streamline operations and save the Company money. Starting in 1959, Perlman was able to reduce operating deficits by $7.7 million, which nominally raised NYC Stock to $1.29 per share, producing dividends of an amount not seen since the end of the War. By 1964, he was able to reduce the NYC Long Term debt by nearly $100 million, while reducing Passenger deficits from $42 million to $24.6 million.

North Yard, in Denver, Colorado.
A typical U.S. Railroad Classification Yard.
.Photo: 6 October 2009.
Source: originally posted to Flickr as trains
Author: Bradley Gordon
(Wikimedia Commons)

A Classification Yard (American and Canadian English) or Marshalling Yard (BritishHong KongIndian and Canadian English) is a Railway Yard found at some Freight Train Stations, used to separate Railway Cars on to one of several Tracks. First the Cars are taken to a Track, sometimes called a Lead or a Drill. From there, the Cars are sent through a series of Switches, called a Ladder, onto the Classification Tracks. Larger Yards tend to put the Lead on an artificially-built hill, called a Hump, to use the force of gravity to propel the Cars through the Ladder.

Perlman also enacted several modernisation projects throughout the Railroad. Notable was the use of Centralised Traffic Control systems on many of the NYC Lines, which reduced the Four-Track Mainline to Two Tracks. He oversaw construction and/or modernisation of many Hump, or, Classification Yards, notably the $20-million Selkirk Yard which opened outside of Albany in 1966. Perlman also experimented with Jet Trains, creating a Budd RDC car (the M-497 Black Beetle) powered by two J47 Jet Engines, stripped from a B-36 Peacemaker Bomber, as a solution to increasing car and airplane competition. The project did not leave the Prototype Stage.


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