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Uncrossable Desert

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In January 1978, G.A. Kellow offered this report on the Milwaukee's plant rationalization efforts as it moved into its final bankruptcy [1]: Traffic patterns over the past 30 years, and probably longer, show that the total transcontinental rail market is not a strong growth market; that the Milwaukee Road's share has always been small; and that the share of the market is in fact diminishing.

Given the small present market share, the strong rail competition and the apparent limited total market, the Milwaukee Road cannot expect to increase its share of the traffic enough in the future to justify maintaining transcontinental service.

On the basis of this study and analysis, the following conclusions are drawn:
The railroad probably should not have extended its line to the Pacific Northwest at the time it was done.
There is no economic justification in continuing transcontinental service to the West Coast.A long-range objective should be to phase out most, if not all, operations west…