Consolidated Rail Corp., the 18-month-old federal system that took over the bankrupt Northeastern rail lines is a financial disaster, according to an "early report" prepared for Congress for the Interstate Commerce Commission.
While the ICC had projected in 1977 loss of $273 million, ConRail lost $206 million in the first quarter of 1977, the report reveals.
The study blames the sharp losses on four factors: a critical shortage of freight cars, the lack of adequate cost systems, an inability to generate new sources of freight revenues and severe weather conditions last winter.
ConRail has faced major operational and administrative problems . . . since the beginning of operations," the report states. It points out that many key executive positions remained unfilled almost a year after the corporation came into existance.
"This has resulted in the lack of management experience in areas vital to profitable operation," the analysis states.
ConRail spent more than $750 million in roadway and track rehabilitation program during its first year of operation, which began April 1, 1976. Much of these funds were spent on equipment that had been poorly serviced for years, the study notes.
Its yard costs were significantly higher than other carriers and it suffered a severe shortage of locomotives, the report points out.
The car and locomotive fleet used by the system is "in poor condition and may require the addition of a substantial number of new car and motive units not (originally) projected," it continues.
"The number of daily trains held for lack of power (locomotive) and the average delay per train have both increased dramatically since April 1979," the report states.
During the winter months, the railroad had as many as 800 locomotives closed down or in need of extensive repair.
Although the report notes that the ConRail has accelerated its car repair program over original projections, "the number of cars needing and awaiting repair seems to be increasing at an even faster rate," the study states.
There has been "no noticeable improvement in ConRail's car utilization program," the report concludes. Early projections anticipated a 28 per cent increase in utilization.
There is not much hope of immediate improvement in ConRail operations, the report states. While some problems are being brought under control, most of the major difficulties still exist, it notes.
"ConRail's improvement during the twelve-month period has been less operational and financial statistics for the period indicate the railroad has not progressed in many crucial performance areas. It is essentially marking time.
"Since the long-term goal of ConRail is to develop a self-sustaining railroad, a more meaningful improvement throughtout the system is needed," it concludes.