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Re: PC: What If

JER's comments on the management, cultural, and operational problems of the PC
seem like an excellent summary of "The Wreck of the Penn Central." (I agree
with the earlier comment that this is an excellent book.) Since JER threw out
the bait, I can't resist commenting on PC's diversification.

The operational problems, ICC regulations and hamstringing of the PC made the
rail operations marginal, at best. Distasteful as it may be to railfans and
railroaders, PC's diversification, especially the real estate, kept the PC
running for months before the rail operations finally bled it dry. I agree
with the critics that there were many questionable non-rail business
activities, some of which may well have been on the shady side, but the fact
of the matter is that Bevan kept PC in money and kept the trains running a lot
longer than rail only could have.

It seems to me that PC was really ahead of its time. It was the first major
rail merger and if you look at today's big railroads, most are quite
diversified in their total business activities (though not like PC--they did
seem to go overboard).


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