The Consolidated Rail Corporation,commonly known asCONRAIL, began operations in April 1976 and was the primary Class I railroad in the north-east of the USA.
Conrail was created as a result of bankruptcy that swept through, in the seventies, many american railway companies, including Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh Valley, Penn Central (ex New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad), and Reading. In the early 1970s, one by one, these six railroads entered bankruptcy. Although there were many reasons for the economic difficulties they faced, chief among them was competition from trucks, subsidized by the federally-built Interstate highway system, and an archaic system of economic regulation which prevented railroads from responding to the needs of the market. As freight revenues declined, railroads deferred maintenance, allowing tracks and equipment to fall into poor condition, and as service levels deteriorated, more business went to trucks. Requirements to run money-losing passenger service added to the rails decline.
The federal government, recognizing the national economic importance of the six railroads, responded by creating Conrail and appropriating the funds needed to rebuild tracks, locomotives and freight cars. While Conrail succeeded in rebuilding the railroad, the problem of severe economic regulation remained. With the passage of the Staggers Act in 1980, many of these constraints were loosened, giving railroads more freedom to compete with trucks. Later, other legislation transferred the burden of operating money-losing commuter rail service from Conrail to state agencies. In the 1970s, Congress created Amtrak to take over intercity passenger service from the nation's freight railroads.
By 1981 Conrail began its financial turnaround. After June 1981, Conrail would no longer require federal investment, and finished the year with the first profit in its history. With Conrail continuing to succeed in providing high quality service for its freight customers and improving its financial outlook, the federal government sold its ownership interest in Conrail through what at the time was the largest initial public stock offering in the nation's history. This March 26, 1987 transaction, with added cash payments from Conrail to the U.S. Treasury, produced about $1.9 billion for the taxpayers and returned the Northeast-Midwest rail freight system to the private sector as a for-profit corporation, as Congress had envisioned when it created Conrail as Consolidated Rail Corporation.
In the spring of 1997, Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX Corporation agreed to acquire Conrail through a joint stock purchase. The Surface Transportation Board officially approved the acquisition and restructuring of Conrail on July 23, 1998. The approved restructuring plan transformed Conrail into a switching and terminal railroad that operates on behalf of its owners, Norfolk Southern and CSX, in the Shared Assets Areas of Northern New Jersey, Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia, and Detroit. Conrail started its life with colorful mix of interesting equipment. In its early days, Conrail's equipment was a mismash of aging classic locomotives and colorful (in most cases) paint schemes. This stuff was full of character, from the variety of paint out styles performed to the ways that things showed up in places you'd never seen them before, like EL U-Boats and CNJ SD35s on Horseshoe Curve. This era was a modelers and railfan's bonanza, despite the sadness at seeing once great railroads sporting a new image. Conrail utilized modern and innovated cars and locomotives. As it became profitable, Conrail had purchased some unique locomotives and cars that it believed were the way of the future. These include the legendary behemoth SD80MACs and the unique Coilshield cars.
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CONRAIL "FIRST TEN YEARS" ROSTER IMAGES
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