Railway Preservation News

Transit operators going from rail to bus
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Author:  Bob Davis [ Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:12 am ]
Post subject:  Transit operators going from rail to bus

Over on the Interchange board, there's been a long running discussion on why the main-line railroads changed from steam to diesel so rapidly, and how it affected the suppliers (feedwater heaters, stokers, injectors, etc.) and loco builders. The idea that many of the newest steamers were just barely broken in before they were written off, and even die-hard Norfolk and Western had thrown in the towel by 1960, brought many comments about why this happened the way it did.

I didn't think this belonged in the steam vs. diesel thread, and since it's only tangentially related to preservation, I'm posting in Railfanning. What started this train of thought was the discussion on the Pacific Electric Historical website about how in 1949-51, PE modified over a hundred of their 600-700-class Hollywood cars for one-man/two-man operation, renumbering them into the 5050-class. They also did midlife-overhauls on the 5000-class PCCs. But within five years, PE had sold off its passenger service to Metro Coach and closed Torrance Shops. What I haven't seen explained was why PE put so much money into their cars, only to sell them for scrap or for re-use in other countries. There were other cases where almost-new PCCs were sold at a loss for re-use or salvage (some of these cases did involve sleazy dealings and corrupt practices). In the case of Louisville KY, some of the PCCs were on the property, but were never placed in service, being sold off to Cleveland. Did the realization that the passenger loadings of World War II were an anomaly finally sink in? Did new managements take over during this period? It can't all be blamed on National City Lines.

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