By Jim Blaze, Contributing Editor, Railway Age Magazine; October 30, 2019
Before CN or CSX rolled out Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) under the leadership of the late E. Hunter Harrison, a much smaller terminal railroad company in the eastern U.S. was demonstrating aggressive cost reduction. It was Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail).
Actually, there have been two companies named Conrail. The first was created by the U.S. Congress (the January 1974 3-R Act) as part of the federal effort to restructure the re-organizable assets of bankrupt Northeastern railroads Penn Central, Jersey Central, Erie-Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lehigh & Hudson River. It was acquired and divided, 58%/42%, by Norfolk Southern and CSX in the late 1990s. The so-called “Conrail Split” generated the second Conrail—Conrail Shared Assets Operations (CSAO), a neutral terminal/switching railroad, owned jointly by NS and CSX, with operations in Northern New Jersey, Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia and Detroit.