Friday, November 3, 2017

Prairie Central Railway (PACY), made with Conrail rejects

The same person, Mr. Burroughs, who formed the Prairie Trunk Railroad from a B&O branch that CSX did not want, formed the Prairie Central Railway from a Pennsy branch (Decatur-Paris) and a NYC/Big Four branch (Paris-Mt. Carmel), that Conrail did not want. The Big Four branch was part of the Egyptian Line. It sounds like Mr. Burroughs was a modern day robber baron.

Bill Edrington commented on a posting
Bill Edrington Attached is a page from the November/December 1984 Official Guide showing the lines operated by the Prairie Central and its sister company, Prairie Trunk, at that time. The USRA Final System Plan, which was the "bible" regarding which of the bankrupt railroads' lines would and would not be included in Conrail, identified both the former PRR between Paris and Peoria and the former NYC (Big Four) between Paris and Lawrenceville as being unprofitable surplus lines that would be operated by Conrail only if their operating losses were directly subsidized. The FSP granted Conrail trackage rights over the B&O from Lawrenceville to Vincennes and over the L&N (former C&EI) from Vincennes to Danville as an alternative route for southern Illinois coal traffic to the Chicago area. Illinois came through with a subsidy for the Paris-Decatur portion of the ex-PRR Peoria Secondary for an initial year, after which the line was operated for some years as the Wabash Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of Morrison-Knudsen Corp. The state also subsidized operation by Conrail of the Paris-Lawrenceville line until Conrail sold its lines south of Mt. Carmel to the Southern Railway in the early 1980s. Prairie Central was formed around this time to take over the Paris-Decatur operation, which Morrison-Knudsen had found to be unprofitable, and also ended up operating the portion of the former NYC between Paris and Mt. Carmel. Prairie Central did not last long. There was not enough traffic on either of its lines to support continued operation. The same was true with the Prairie Trunk's operation of the former B&O between Springfield and Shawneetown.
Bill Edrington I should have mentioned for clarity's sake that Conrail began operations on April 1, 1976. The state subsidy to Conrail for operating the Paris-Decatur line only lasted one year, after which the Wabash Valley operated it without subsidy until its parent company, Morrison-Knudsen, threw in the towel. Paris-Lawrenceville operation by Conrail was subsidized for several years until that line was no longer needed to handle coal traffic from south of Mt. Carmel. Prairie Central then operated the line all the way from Paris to Mt. Carmel for a short time, without state subsidy, but could not make a go of it.
Dave Ritter Years of operation for the PACY 1981 to 1984 and ended due the the embargo from the IC of trackage rites from Hervey City to Decatur for non-payment and a costly derailment at Lake City.

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