There are a multitude of reasons why the Erie Lackawanna Railroad did not turn out to be the operational success that
its planners had hoped the railroad would be. Among those items beyond the railroad's control were the oppressive and discriminatory
property taxes levied on the properties of the Erie and the Lackawanna roads right up to merger time and beyond, particularly
in the state of New Jersey where the commuter operation was the most extensive of all of the merged railroad's passenger operations.Another
was the heavyhanded economic regulation by the Federal Government via the Interstate Commerce Commission, still another was
the 1968 merger of the New York Central and Pennsylvania railroads into Penn Central and actions taken by officials of that
railroad to destroy the Erie's vital Maybrook Gateway. One more factor in EL's demise was the declining traffic base located
along the railroad's lines. Erie Lackawanna was only able to partially compensate for this by increased emphasis on the piggyback
business, which, by the time the railroad disappeared into Conrail in 1976, constituted 40% of Erie Lackawanna's freight business.
Still another was, once the railroad began to receive subsidies for the New York/New Jersey commuter service, it began as
being wholly inadequate to cover the expenses the railroad incurred in this service each time it turned a wheel. Related
to this was the increasing age of the equipment being used in this service, particularly on the Lackawanna side, where
some of the cars used in the electrified service dated back to 1912 or earlier as did a number of ex Erie Stilwell cars.
Then there were the locomotives, both railroads were completely dieselized by the end of 1953 and some of the diesels were
beginning to wear out. This was particularly true of the 44 EMD FTs, which dated to WWII and were the oldest diesels on the
roster and became the first to go.
FACTORS THE RAILROAD SHOULD HAVE CONTROLLED included: 1.Management of questionable competency. The way the through line
passenger service was handled and what, in this author's opinions, were excuses as to why a particular train should stop operating. 2.
Accumulation of deferred maintenance on both track and equipment. 3.Quality of service to all customers.4. Some of the effects
of the Penn Central merger. Some of the boardroom machinations that overtook that company also overtook Erie Lackawanna as
well. Besides physical integration of the properties, Erie Lackawanna should have merged the two operating departments together.
Crew districts should have been combined along with operating timetables, etc.5. A housecleaning of top management should
have been done sooner than it actually was, even if it meant bringing in some new people.In other words Milton McInnes, Gary
White, and a number of others should have all been sacked much much sooner than they were.6. Selection of motive power
to replace first generation power; GE U30bs and EMD GP40s would have been a much better choice than the heaverier U33Cs and
several varieties of SD45s did. These locomotives had a tendancy the wear out the track much faster than their four axle cousins
would have.FACTORS BEYOND THE RAILROAD'S CONTROL included the effects the Interstate Highway System was having on its
freight traffic, decline of the traffic base served by the railroad,government transportation policies that subsized and continue
to subsidize competition at the expense of the railroads, removal of mail and express traffic from long distance passenger
trains, thus necessitating the creation of Amtrak to operate what remained. Unfortunately,however, the creation of Amtrak
came too late to do Erie Lackawanna any good, for on January 5-6,1970, Trains 5 and 6, THE LAKE CITIES, took their final curtain
call, thus bringing down the curtain on long distance passenger service on the EL and its predecessors. As a result, New York's
Southern Tier now only has bus services that are skimpy at best and not all with reliable connections with one another. These
trains might still be running had the railroad been able to pursue other options, such as getting the six states through which
trains 5 and 6 passed to provide funding for their continued operation and do the same for Nos. 10 and 15 between Buffalo
and Hoboken, including instituting piggyback service on those two trains to handle mail and express traffic, which helped
support the operation. However, neither was done, since the railroad was in a battle for its very survival, a battle which
was lost by April 1,1976, when Conrail assumed operation of EL and six other bankrupt railroad. Had Erie Lackawanna been
able to remain independent, odds are that the railroad would at best, have lasted another four years before total collapse.
Predecessor Lackawanna Railroad was in this same situation before merger talks began as a result of the damage done in 1955,
by Hurricane Diane. It is said that the Lackawanna would have been bankrupt by 1970s had it chosen to go it alone, which it
could not. The railroad that resulted in 1960 was not much stronger than either of its two parts. As the traffic base dried
up, the railroad grew weaker until, in June 1972, the affects of Hurricane Agnes proved to be the final straw for the Erie
Lackawanna Railway Company and its proud employees, shippers, and friends.