An ICC investigation concluded that the total cost, more than quadruple the orginal estimate, could not be justified by any adequate engineering or traffic surveys that were made. On the contrary, everything indicates that the project was the result of rivalry between powerful groups. Competitor railroads immediately began snatching up land to sell to the Milwaukee at severely inflated levels or started calculated bidding wars to drive up the prices.It's sad really that more lines hadn't been electrified and that the true sustainable value of this route was not emulated in places inside of the United States. Ultimately it was in Europe, and they enjoy the success they built after our lead with the MR.
But here are a few key passages on pg 188 that stood out in the book to me on how the Milwaukee died after its tough beginning.
JP Kiley was a Milwaukee vice president determined to eliminate all electric lines. The reasons, Kiley presumed, would be cost, technological obsolescence and lesser capability. This was the assumption.It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to carry around your own powerplant. It's also amazing how comparing apples and oranges continues to allow people to make decisions.
Laurence Wylie was an electrical engineer devoted to clean, electric trains. Wylie was appointed by Kiley in 1948 to oversee to oversee the dismantling of all electric. Having worked with electric rail since 1919, Wylie balked. On his own volition, Wylie ordered comparative studies of electric trains versus diesel. His finding contradicted Kiley's theories. The old electric could outpull the new diesels and run cheaper, dollar for dollar. In fact, on one typical run to the West Coast, three diesels were shown to annually cost more than $104,000 extra. In mountainous terrain, diesels fared even worse. Newer electrics constructed by GE in the 1950's for the Soviet Union showed still better results. These powerful new GE electrics, nicknamed little Joes for Joeseph Stalin, were almost twice as economical and powerful as the GM diesels, especially on long runs.
For example, six Electro Motive Division F diesels were needed to haul 3,300 tons, and five electro motive division GP9s were required for about the same chore. But that same tonnage was easily pulled by just four old GE freight electrics. The electrics also beat the gas burning locomotives on flatter terrain. Kiley dismissed Wylie's findings and instead relied on his own engineering tests. in large measure provided by the Electro Motive Division. Whylie, who had worked his way up from a Montana trainmaster to a district superintendent, could not understand why the engineering reports did not jibe. In his campaign to replace electrics with GM diesels, Kiley was constantly butressed by GM's glowing engineering reports. Finally, Wylie realized the newest diesels were being compared not with the newest high speed electrics, but thirty year old electrics. Moreover, other data from General Motors Electro Motive Division was constantly being skewed in favor of Diesel.
Who was heading up GM's Electro Motive Divison efforts in the late 1940's? It was Dana Kettering, the son of Charles Kettering, and the same inventive genius who'd helped Gray and Davis Electrical Engineers develop the starter battery array that mysteriously undercut Thomas Edison's attempt to create an electric vehicle with Henry Ford. In that instance, the testing had also been challenged as disingenuous.