A Lansdale, PA native, Dick Bregler is a retired USMC Gunnery Sargeant who made several trips into the heart of Conrail country over the years. He has been gracious enough to submit his entire collection of Conrail images for us to publish for your viewing pleasure.
Dick Bregler captured Conrail's Altoona-area operations in 1979, when the railroad was still struggling to pull itself together. Almost any sort of power could be seen on mainline trains, with many oddball units and predecessor paint jobs still running around.
By the time Dick made it back to Conrail country in 1981, much progress had been made. Sadly, some older diesels and the electrics were off the roster, but more power had received the much-needed attention by the shop forces. If you look at the 1979 collection and then at the 1981 images, you can tell the tide had turned in Conrail's favor.
The next year Dick made it back to PA showed more progress on Conrail's lines. He was able to shoot capital improvements on major main lines to keep them fluid, and Dress Blue had largely made the early "rainbow" days of Conrail motive power a bygone era.
1983 was a bittersweet year for Conrail fans. While the railroad was growing ever closer to being profitable, a lot of the older power that had soldiered on in the early years was gone from the roster. They were necessary casualties, though, as the railroad went further into profitability.
A collection of photos from Dick Bregler's trips to the Altoona area in 1984.
1986 saw Conrail moving closer and closer to its financial independence from the federal government. However, profitability came at a price: by this time cabin cars were all but gone from mainline trains, and the early rainbow years had finally given way to nonstop parade of blue.
By 1991, little remained of the Conrail that was formed 15 years prior. Early fleets of SD45s and U-Boats had given way to new SD50s, SD60s, and Dash-8s to power mainline trains. Older Geeps were still holding on, but the vast majority of the fleet had been Conrail from the start. Not only had Conrail survived; by this point, it was a world-class railroad.
1993 was yet another successful year for Conrail. More coalporters were being cranked out of Hollidaysburg, while large numbers of new SD60Ms and C40-8Ws were arriving to pull them. Conrail had also worked with Thrall Car to develop the new CoilSHIELD cars.
By the time Dick made it back to Conrail country in 1998, Conrail's fate had already been sealed. However, the railroad had become a lean, mean company that more than lived up to the Quality image it had made for itself.