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Date: 04/14/07 13:56
Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: knightswell

I am in the middle of reading "The Wreck Of The Penn Central" and am curious how WP fans feel about Alfred Perlman. According to the book, A.P. was nothing short of a genius with the DRG&W and then with the NYC. He was fired from the PC after only two years, and then went on to the Western Pacific. As a fan, or a former employee of the WP, how would you rate the man's performance on the Western Pacific?



Date: 04/14/07 14:48
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: RuleG

I think to call Al Perelman a "genius" is a bit of a stretch. Yes, his views towards freight rail operations were enlightened in comparison to those who were in charge of the PRR, but his attitude towards commuter trains was pretty dismal.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/17 18:34 by RuleG.



Date: 04/14/07 18:31
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: ProAmtrak

Wonder if he got fired after PC went bankrupt



Date: 04/14/07 19:46
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: knightswell

Yes. He was fired, along with his boss, and a third official - the chief of finance, when the PC went bankrupt after being in existence for only two years.



Date: 04/14/07 19:59
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: Bryan_

> I am in the middle of reading "The Wreck Of The
> Penn Central"

Beware. This book is big on hype and short of facts.

It was written just after the bankruptcy (well before Conrail) so it has no historical perspective. It would be like writing a history of World War II in 1942.

The sorry state of railroading is ignored in favor of trying to blame everything on the top three at Penn Central.



Date: 04/14/07 20:42
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: Christo

Was Perlman fired?

Perlman had a contract and was not fired but was increasingly bypassed. It is a measure of the respect that the press and the financial world held him in that almost none of the blame for the collapse of the Penn Central was directed at Perlman. Once the contract ended he went on to WP.

One of the many contributing factors to the demise of the Penn Central was the internal struggle between the Pennsylvania RR executives and the New York Central team. This red team vs. green team struggle used up a lot of energy. The Pennsylvania team consolidated their control and some of individual's actions particularly the CFO's put them into bankruptcy. It wasn't by any means the only cause but his actions did make for great headlines.


In hindsight the flaw of merging two financially shaky railroads and expecting a robust company is apparent. The entire shifting economy from manufacturing in the Northeast to service industries in the Sun Belt, the competition from trucking, and the oversupply of rail service were not appreciated by the public. To the public and Wall Street these companies particularly the Pennsy were considered grade A pillars of American business. So the bankruptcy was a shock so great that the federal government had to step in with a solution.

Christo



Date: 04/14/07 21:30
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: rob_l

It is generally acknowledged the first modern RR management was the team Perlman put together at NYC. Many of his lieutenants went on to achieve great things at a variety of companies. The RR management innovations and the turn-around achieved at NYC were the obvious high points of Perlman's outstanding career.

PC was probably an impossible challenge, and in any case, Perlman was not in charge. Probably nobody really was.

At WP Perlman made some good changes (especially joint marketing, run-through schedules and power pools with the connecting carriers) and he improved the management team (bringing some good ex-NYC people with him as well as making some good new hires). While very valuable to WP, I think his accomplishments at WP are relatively modest compared to what he achieved at NYC.

Best regards,

Rob L.



Date: 04/15/07 05:28
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: wlankenau

You'll probably get a better perspective on this subject if you read Rush Loving Jr.'s "The Men Who Loved Trains" after you finish "Wreck of the Penn Central." I think Perlman's problems were largely based on the fact that he was simply not liked personally by his peers, who shut him out and worked around him. The whole Penn Central deal was cut by officials of the PRR, C&O and N&W who set up a secret meeting behind Perlman's back so he couldn't raise any objections. Perlman wanted two mergers: N&W and PRR, and C&O and NYC. It only took 50 years and billions of dollars to get there.



Date: 04/15/07 11:02
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: Dick

Not every WP executive thought that Al Perlman saved the Western Pacific. There was at least one negative letter to the editor after an article on AP in Trains several years ago that suggested that the improvment in profit on the WP in AP's first year there was identical to the loss on the California Zephyr which was discontinued about the same time AP arrived. Sorry I don't have the time to look this up as to month and year in Trains. Also a former VPO under Bill White at New York Central published a book that said that the NYC was not in as bad a financial and physical shape as Al Perlman claimed. Of course this could just be sour grapes and I am not in a position to comment on either of these claims.
Dick Eisfeller
Big "E" Productions



Date: 04/15/07 14:52
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: WAF

D.J.Russell didn't think he was so hot, but then again, DJR thought he, himself, was God.



Date: 04/15/07 21:28
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: NRE973

As for people who came out of NYC/PC, others pale when compared to the successful career of AND SUCCESSFUL RAILROAD under John C. Kenefick. As far as I'm concerned, he was the best prez the UP had, and nobody or company has effectively focused on the business of railroading (THAT MEANS RUNNING TRAINS, HIGH CLASS RAILROADING, HIGH MORALE, MGT THAT CARES & KNOWS, MOVING FREIGHT, DIVISIONS, not 'service centers' and MAKING MONEY)since (maybe ATSF comes close, but they've always had a cheap streak). Certainly what we see as the 'Yellow Peril' today is pathetic compared to the UP 25 years ago.

I remember years ago UP's Walsh described the then forthcoming AC powered diesels as the biggest revolution on the UP since diesels replaced steam. He got it wrong. The biggest revolution was the transformation of railroad mgt. from the middle up to the top with people who weren't dedicated railroaders, didn't care, didn't know, knew they didn't know and didn't care, and knew their paycheck wasn't dependent upon what they did today, and figured they wouldn't be around in 10 years anyway.

Anyway, Perlman probably did as good a job as anyone could at WP. I don't know a lot about it, but I think that WP was like a lot of other small Class I's in the 1970's that were pinched, hard to grow traffic, fixed labor, and surrounded by big roads. At least the route survives, like DRGW, T&P, C&EI, which is a better fate than many of the PC mainline routes.

PS: My fantasy: Having Wm Jeffers walk into a meeting of VP's, bean counters, etc. as they discuss the sale of Overnight Express and how it might affect stock price & their bonuses.



Date: 04/16/07 06:23
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: WAF

Keneflick's UP was a class outfit. Great people to work with from a shipper's standpoint. Too bad it ended.



Date: 04/16/07 15:29
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: RuleG

NRE973 Wrote:
> Anyway, Perlman probably did as good a job as
> anyone could at WP. I don't know a lot about it,
> but I think that WP was like a lot of other small
> Class I's in the 1970's that were pinched, hard to
> grow traffic, fixed labor, and surrounded by big
> roads. At least the route survives, like DRGW,
> T&P, C&EI, which is a better fate than many of the
> PC mainline routes.
>
Most of the key PC mainlines survive today with the exception of parts of the ex-PRR Pittsburgh - St. Louis Panhandle route and ex-PRR Pittsburgh - Chicago Fort Wayne route.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/17 18:36 by RuleG.



Date: 04/16/07 17:23
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: MacBeau

Ask the former CFO of the WP about Alfred Perlman. If his daughter got it right (and I think she did), her dad claimed that had Perlman not turned the WP around, the UP would have never touched them. I know this is a secondary source, but the tale struck me when his daughter (a doctor) made the remark at dinner one night in SF some years ago.
—Mac



Date: 04/16/07 21:32
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: jbwest

"You'll probably get a better perspective on this subject if you read Rush Loving Jr.'s "The Men Who Loved Trains" after you finish "Wreck of the Penn Central." Good advice.

DJR, the last great president of the SP in the old style. His failing is he bequeathed that old style top down management style to BFB who simply was not up to the task. We're still waiting for MDO to write his book about this great American industrial tragedy. Especially for those of us who thought we'd make a career at SP.

Perlman is not popular with railfans, especially DRGW fans, but he probably was one of the brighter guys among some pretty dull leaders. He tried to make DRGW lean and mean. His NYC management team produced some folks who made some major contributions later on, McClellan and DeBoer come to mind, but there were others. And he succeeded in making the WP an attractive acquisition target for UP. Not a bad track record. He sure didn't think much of BFB.

Kennefick ran the UP well in the old style, but I'm not sure what he contributed to the long terms changes needed. The UP had the cash flow to deny change the longest (but it did catch up with a vengeance!).

Still waiting for the definitive big picture history of what happened to the railroad industry between 1960 and 2000.

JBW



Date: 04/17/07 06:34
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: WAF

JBW, the DRGW had to be lean and mean. They were the filling between the bread in the sandwich. Too easy to go around them. That fast and short concept worked until the SP got their hooks into the DRGW, then it became long and slow. Was Holtman a Perlman man? Otherwise I don't understand what you meant about Perlman made the DRGW railfan unfriendly? Because of Holtman, the railroad was unfriendly towards railfans.



Date: 04/17/07 09:39
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: jbwest

WAF, there is an older generation of fans that seem to blame Perlman for the abandonment of the beloved DRGW narrow gauge lines. And he also got blamed for ending steam on the NYC. Neither of which I think he had much to do with. But apparently he was not very good at humoring the fans.

Have no idea if there was any connection between Holtman and Perlman. I would guess Holtman was pretty junior when Perlman left DRGW.

JBW



Date: 04/17/07 16:35
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: WAF

Just shows you what you can learn on TO. I didn't know Perlman worked for the DRGW. What capacity?



Date: 04/17/07 18:08
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: jbwest

Perlman was a long time DRGW guy who was hired by Robert Young to help him run the NYC after he wrested control from the Vanderbuilt interests. When Young committed suicide Perlman took over. The rest is history as they say. Don't really know much about his DRGW career, too long before my time, but I have an old Official Guide that shows him as Chief Engineer, and I believe later on he was GM. Don't know if he was ever a DRGW VP.

It is interesting, given his later fame (or notoriety), that he is not even mentioned in Athern's history of the DRGW (or at least not in the index).

However in checking through my miscellaneous pile of old DRGW timetables looking for Perlman in vain, I did come up with a listing for J. E. Kennefick as Assistant Super at Alamosa, and also a listing for Bill Holtman as Chief Engineer.

For a road its size the DRGW has produced more than it's share of interesting people.

JBW



Date: 04/17/07 19:04
Re: Question about Alfred Perlman's Western Pacific
Author: WAF

I always thought Kennefick was a lifer on the UP



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