Book review 'The Indiana Rail Road Company'

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Book review 'The Indiana Rail Road Company'

Post by Gloriousnse »

Picked up a copy of this on a whim from Ebay, this is an expanded, re-issued book.

The original was only published maybe 5 years ago, but this version was published in 2012 with 4 new chapters added which cover some big changes in the subject matter. Make sure you buy the version with the painting of the SD9043MAC on the cover to make sure you get the recent version.

The book is around 280 pages long, hardback, and very well presented. It's also easily obtainable over here at the mo, there are several on Ebay from UK sellers - priced at a little over £20 at the moment.

The subject matter includes well written and (to me, surprisingly!) fascinating histories of the many and varied railroads that built the lines INRD now operate, with plenty of human interest too - as well as coverage of their takeovers and operations by later, more well known companies such as Illinios Central and Milwaukee Road once the initial rounds of speculative building (and seemingly inevitable financial collapse!) had happenned - following the lines up through the dark days of the 60s and 70s.

Some nice stuff on the infrastructure - the terrain forces some huge steel trestles (one of which was the third biggest in the US when it was built) - and even the occasional tunnel.

It deals with the tribulations of the new Indiana Rail Road as a fledgling shortline in the mid 1980s, trying to make ends meet running heavy trains on decrepit infrastructure and trying to drag unit coal trains with an unlikely fleet of well worn ex Santa Fe CF7s - the question asked by one employee after the first year, on seeing the second major derailment of their primary customers unit coal train in a week, 'Should we call Hulcher, or should we all just go home?'

Then the challenges of trying to build a viable long term business out of a line where 90% of the initial traffic was for one customer that had a generally unfriendly relationship with them. Trying to add customers, work around the restrictions the previous roads had put in place, trying to reduce costs without hitting service.

Moving on to more recent times, and the move from it being a shortline between Indianapolis and the IC at Effingham to being a regional, adding connections to Chicago and Louisville via purchase of CP's ex Milwaukee road route through Indiana, plus newbuild routes and connections to increase the traffic base.

Lots of nice stuff for the modeller on industries and operations, including a nice 'day in the life' from 2009...

The writing comes from several sources (including names probably familiar to folk this side of the water like Fred W. Frailey) - despite having several authors working on different parts it all reads rather easily, and the many anecdotal stories included (particularly in the older history) stop it from getting dry and boring.

Plenty of good images (lots of them colour) illustrate the story, including a commendable number covering the historical (pre INRD) sections.

If you've got any interest in the INRD in particular this is a must, but if you're interested in modern shortline/regional railroading in general this is a fascinating read, and well worth a punt.

I commend it to the house. :ugeek:
Martyn Read
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