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Erie Lackawanna Railroad-Anatomy of The Friendly Service Route
End of the Line for The Friendly Service Route
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Development of the Lackawanna Railroad
Erie Railroad Company and its development.
Decline and Fall of the ELRY
Why the Erie Lackawanna Failed
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Friendly Service Route Overview

Here we discuss some of the reasons why the Erie Lackawanna Railway Company did not turn out to be the smashing success that its planners had hoped.  Among the reasons was a failure to more thoroughly merge the two properties that created the railroad on October 17,1960 than had been done right up to merger time. Inadequate planning, inability of some locomotives of the same make and model  of each railroad to be able to operate in Multiple with the others,and a myriad of other operational details that should have been dealt with but weren''t will be discussed here. The final page will be called THOUGHTS FROM THE CABOOSE.

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.

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