EL Railway

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Last Updated on 14 October 2012
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The Erie-Lackawanna Railroad was formed by the merger of the Erie Railroad with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western on October 17, 1960. (A minor renaming occurred in late 1963 when the hyphen was dropped.) The new railroad took after its parent Erie; the largest amount of Lackawanna influence seemed to be paint. Both of EL's parents entered the merger after a couple of years of deficit operations, and EL continued their record, except for 1965 and 1966.

EL quickly consolidated its passenger services, with most trains following the ex-Lackawanna route east of Binghamton and the ex-Erie route west. Long-distance passenger trains were gradually cut back during the 1960s, and the last Hoboken-Chicago train was discontinued in 1970, leaving EL with a single daily commuter round trip between Cleveland and Youngstown and its extensive New Jersey commuter services. In 1967 the state of New Jersey began subsidizing the service and in 1970 began to acquire new cars and locomotives for the trains on the ex-Erie routes and the non-electrified Lackawanna lines (the Lackawanna electric cars would continue running until 1984). The Cleveland-Youngstown train lasted until 1977.

 In 1960 Chesapeake & Ohio began acquiring Baltimore & Ohio stock, and in November 1961 New York Central and Pennsylvania announced their intention to merge. In 1964 Norfolk & Western teamed up with Nickel Plate, Wabash, Pittsburgh & West Virginia, and Akron, Canton & Youngstown. Erie Lackawanna was suddenly surrounded, or thought it would be when all the mergers were approved, and asked to be included in the Norfolk & Western system. In 1965 Norfolk & Western and Chesapeake & Ohio announced their merger plan, which would include EL and several other smaller eastern railroads, to be held by a wholly owned subsidiary holding company named Dereco. The N&W-C&O merger didn't take place, but on March 1, 1968, Dereco and the Erie Lackawanna Railway were both incorporated. Dereco exchanged its shares for Erie Lackawanna Railway's 1,000 shares. On April 1, 1968, the Erie Lackawanna Railway merged with the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Stockholders of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad received Dereco shares. To put it in simpler language, Norfolk & Western bought the Erie Lackawanna at arm's length.

Hurricane Agnes hit the East on June 22, 1972. After estimating that damage to the railroad, principally between Binghamton and Salamanca, N. Y., amounted to $9.2 million, EL filed for bankruptcy on June 26, 1972. During the reorganization of the eastern railroads, it was thought that EL might be able to reorganize on its own, and there was a proposal by Chessie System to buy a portion of the EL. However, Chessie canceled the agreement and EL asked to be included in Conrail.

Consolidated Rail Corporation took over EL's operations on April 1, 1976. Conrail's map excluded most of the former Erie main line west of Marion, Ohio. The Erie Western was formed to operate the 152 miles from Decatur to Hammond, Indiana, with subsidy from the state of Indiana. The road operated for a brief period in 1978 and 1979, but the subsidy was withdrawn and on-line traffic wasn't sufficient to support the operation. Other shortline operators have taken over various parts of EL with more success; they are listed in the entries for the Erie and the Lackawanna. As an odd valedictory for EL, parent Norfolk & Western donated its 1,000 shares of Erie Lackawanna stock and the corporate records to the University of Virginia in 1983.

©1985 by Kalmbach Publishing Co.

 

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