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American Railroads Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century
Robert E. Gallamore, John R. Meyer
Harvard U Press
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Date Listed:
2015-02-01 00:00:00
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Untitled Document

American Railroads

Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century

By Robert E. Gallamore, John R. Meyer.

Cloth with dust jacket, 528 pages, 6.125 x 9.25", 15 halftones, 14 line illustrations, 14 maps. 2014.

"Once an icon of American industry, railroads fell into a long decline beginning around the turn of the twentieth century. Overburdened with regulation and often displaced by barge traffic on government-maintained waterways, trucking on interstate highways, and jet aviation, railroads measured their misfortune in lost market share, abandoned track, bankruptcies, and unemployment. Today, however, as Robert Gallamore and John Meyer demonstrate, rail transportation is reviving, rescued by new sources of traffic and advanced technology, as well as less onerous bureaucracy.

"In 1970, Congress responded to the industry’s plight by consolidating most passenger rail service nationwide into Amtrak. But private-sector freight service was left to succeed or fail on its own. The renaissance in freight traffic began in 1980 with the Staggers Rail Act, which allowed railroad companies to contract with customers for services and granted freedom to set most rates based on market supply and demand. Railroads found new business hauling low-sulfur coal and grain long distances in redesigned freight cars, while double-stacked container cars moved a growing volume of both international and domestic goods. Today, trains have smaller crews, operate over better track, and are longer and heavier than ever before.

"Near the end of the twentieth century, after several difficult but important mergers, privately owned railroads increased their investments in safe, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly freight transportation. American Railroads tells a riveting story about how this crucial U.S. industry managed to turn itself around.

"Robert E. Gallamore is Adjunct Professor in Rail Management at Michigan State University and Principal at the transportation consulting firm The Gallamore Group.

"John R. Meyer was James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation, Emeritus, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Table of Contents

1. The Enduring American Railroads
2. The Ills of Government Regulation of Rail Rates and Services
3. The Policy Dilemma of Competition and Consolidation
4. The Impact of Rival Freight Modes on Railroads
5. The Decline of Railway Passenger Service, 1900–1970
6. Mergers at Midcentury and the Penn Central Debacle
7. Two Railroad Reform and Revitalization Acts and the Northeast Rail Crisis in the 1970s
8. The Brief, Mainly Happy Life of Conrail, 1976–1999
9. The Making of the Staggers Rail Act, and Experience under Deregulation
10. How Railroads Got Their Final Sizes and Shapes
11. The Enduring Problem of Rail Passenger Service in the Amtrak Era
12. Advancing Technology for American Railroads
13. Decline and Renaissance of American Railroads in the Twentieth Century—Pulling into the Terminal
Afterword: Future Policies for US Railroads