The Consolidated Rail Corporation, commonly known as Conrail (reporting mark CR), was the primary Class I railroad in the Northeast U.S. between 1976 and 1999. Conrail is a portmanteau of "consolidated" and "rail" from the name of the company.
The U.S. federal government created Conrail to take over the potentially profitable lines of multiple bankrupt carriers, including the Penn Central Transportation Company and Erie Lackawanna Railway. With the benefit of industry-wide regulatory requirements being reduced (via the 4R Act and the Staggers Act), Conrail began to turn a profit in the 1980s and was turned over to private investors in 1987. The two remaining Class I railroadsin the East, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS), agreed in 1997 to split the system approximately equally, returning rail freight competition to the Northeast by essentially undoing the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad that created Penn Central. Following Surface Transportation Board approval, CSX and NS took control in August 1998, and on June 1, 1999, began operating their portions of Conrail.
The old company remains a jointly-owned subsidiary, with CSX and NS owning respectively 42 percent and 58 percent of its stock, corresponding to how much of Conrail's assets they acquired. Each parent, however, has an equal voting interest. The primary asset retained by Conrail is ownership of the three Shared Assets Areas in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Detroit. Both CSX and NS have the right to serve all shippers in these areas, paying Conrail for the cost of maintaining and improving trackage. They also make use of Conrail to perform switching and terminal services within the areas, but not as a common carrier, since contracts are signed between shippers and CSX or NS. Conrail also retains various support facilities including maintenance-of-way and training, as well as a 51 percent share in the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad.
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