The Creation of Conrail and its Impact on Railroad Regulation

  • Gregg Guetschow
Keywords: Conrail, Penn Central, federal regulation, railroads, financial performance, nationalization, cartels, monopolies, Interstate Commerce Commission, Interstate Commerce Act, merger, regulatory reform


This article examines the process through which public policy was developed following the bankruptcy of the Penn Central railroad in 1970 to provide for the continuation of rail services in the Northeast and to remedy conditions resulting from federal regulation of the rail industry. The history of rail regulation is described from the perspective of its impact on the operation of the railroads and their financial performance. Four acts—the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, the Railroad Revitalization Act of 1976, the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, and the Northeast Rail Service Act of 1981—are described in terms of the policy and political pressures that led to their enactment.

Author Biography

Gregg Guetschow
Gregg Guetschow is currently a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the city manager of Owosso Michigan. Mr. Guetschow received a B.A. in 1975 and an M.P.A. in 1978 from Western Michigan University.