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It took a while after that merger for everything to fall out, that is for sure. You had Conrail, which took over the freight operations of various railroads, running commuter lines (DL and W now NJ transit), The old NYC harlem , hudson lines and the New Haven (all now MTA).

Not so sure Conrail could be considered a mess, they took over rail lines that their management had run into the ground, and ended up turning their holdings into a modern railroad that was valuable enough to be bought by two big railroads,something not true when the predecessor railroads went south. Among other thing, by the time they were done, the people running Conrail had it running systems for shipping that made it one of the most efficient in the country (when CSX and Northfolk Southern bought the various parts of Conrail, it wasn't just the routes, they were also buying the technology Conrail had developed, was a big article in Harvard Business review about it when I was in grad school).  

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