TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Sprint was: Penn Central)

Sprint was: Penn Central)

Al Gillis (
Thu, 5 Jan 2006 18:22:51 -0800

Al Gillis <> wrote in message

> (See my note 'way at the bottom!)

> <> wrote in message

>> Seth Breidbart wrote:

>>>> The Penn Central Railway, just to name one example, ran so well "by
>>>> itself", that it drove itself into bankruptcy, and liquidation. The
>>>> vast sums that they lost on passenger rail service were a direct
>>>> contributing factor.

>>> Actually, it didn't do so badly until it was looted by corrupt
>>> management.

>> A close look at the record does not support that. A key book is "The
>> Wreck of the Penn Central". The authors, two newspaper reporters,
>> took a muckraking approach and clearly felt the bankruptcy was totally
>> management's fault. However, they at least included details of other
>> circumstances that were actually the real reasons for bankruptcy.
>> (The authors chose to emphasize different issues).

>> Note that:

>> -- The key PC personnel didn't get rich. The head guy, Saunders, lost a
>> lot of money and prestige.

>> -- The bankruptcy was aggresively investigated and no criminal
>> wrongdoing was found.

>> -- As a result of the bankruptcy laws were changed to eliminate the
>> problems the PC had. Passenger service, both local and long distance,
>> was transferred to govt agencies. (PC lost a tremendous amount of
>> money on psgr service). Abandonments of unprofitable segments and
>> better rate making was deregulated by the Staggers Act.

>> -- Keep in mind there is a big difference between bad decisions and
>> criminal decisions by management. Bad decisions is not "looting".

>> -- Unlike modern corporations where assets are mostly paper and the guts
>> are hidden, the physical plant of the Penn Central was wide open for
>> everyone to see, and it was obvious it was lousy. Everybody was stuck
>> on the legends of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central and
>> ignored the reality that both railroads were in terrible physical
>> condition and were losing money at the time of the merger. It amazes
>> me how Wall Street ignores--good and bad--the actual condition of a
>> company. (A friend told me a utility was undervalued by Wall Street
>> and to buy it. He was right, the stock doubled soon after I bought it.

>> Too bad I only bought a little so even though I doubled my money my
>> actual gain wasn't that much.)

>> As an aside, the Pennsyslvania Railroad had a sophisticated telephone
>> system, with its own toll test switchboards. I believe railroads were
>> one of the types that were allowed to own their own telephone gear and
>> maintain it themselves and still connect to the Bell System. After
>> Amtrak and Conrail came in the system was replaced with modern stuff.
>> Tiny modern brown 2554 Touch Tone wall sets replaced big old style
>> phones and Teletype 40 series CRTs replaced the old green impact
>> printers. Amtrak used Control Data computers and CRT screens.

>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Baltimore & Ohio and Santa Fe Railroads
>> each had their own telephone network as well. PAT]

> And let's not forget about the Southern Pacific Railroad (or was it
> the Southern Pacific Railway?)... As the story has it they were the
> ones who thought up SPRINT!

> Al

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The (S)outhern (P)acific (R)ailroad
> (I)nternal (N)etwork (T)elecommunications Department of that railroad
> -- or S.P.R.I.N.T. for short -- did a major re-build of their
> trackside telephone system in the late 1960's. They did such a good
> job of it, they had a huge anount of left-over capacity and decided
> to lease it out to other businesses and companies. That was the
> original Sprint, which a few years later got into residential telecom
> service as well, and has now -- 2005 -- gone through many changes in
> ownership and management. About 1998 or so, Sprint bought the United
> Telephone Company which serves a lot of northern Kansas among other
> territories. PAT]

BZZZZZT! Sorry, Pat, it was the other way around!

United Telephone, based in the Kanasa City, KS area (maybe Overland Park)
bought SPRINT and then assumed the name, much like the recent changes at

United Telephone owned numerous local operating telephone companys
around the US of A. In my area it was United Telephone of the
Northwest. There was a United Telephone of Ohio, United Telephone of
Florida, and others with the "United Telephone of..." name. There
were still others as well, like Carolina Telephone, which operated in
North and South Carolina. Possibly the largest city in SPRINT's
stable in Las Vegas, NV.


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