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Vintage Conrail CR Railroad Brass Repair Track Key
Several available: Here is a hard to find "repair track" or "rip track" key from Conrail - the Consolidated Rail Corporation, a newer Northeast road but one from which relics are difficult to find.
The key is brass, stamped CR on one side of its bow. There are no other markings. It appears to likely be "NOS" new old stock - ordered likely at the end of the railway's life, and never used.
We got this key from a former employee, who told us that the bit cut is unusual, very different from the standard switch cut, and that it was a "Repair Track" cut, used to lock up cars or equipment to prevent their being moved when workmen were on site doing repairs.
BACKGROUND: The Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) was formed on April 1, 1976 not by a standard merger, but as a new government corporation that took over only designated lines and other rail-related assets from the existing bankrupt companies.
According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Conrail was created by the United States government in 1976 through a merger of the Penn Central Transportation Company (successor to the New York Central Railroad, New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad); the Erie Lackawanna Railway (successor to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad and the Erie Railroad); the Ann Arbor Railroad (controlled by Penn Central); Central Railroad of New Jersey; Lehigh & Hudson River Railway; the Lehigh Valley Railroad (controlled by Penn Central); and the Reading Company. The goal of the merger was to regenerate profitability over the lines of these carriers, some of which had gone bankrupt.
As it indeed made profits during the 1980s, Conrail was turned over to private investors in 1987 and consequently became the primary Class I railroad in the Northeast United States, which lasted until 1999. The two remaining Class I railroads in the Eastern U.S., CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway, agreed in 1997 to a takeover that would divide the Conrail system approximately equally between them. 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% and 58% of its stock, corresponding to how much of Conrail's lines they acquired.
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