Alfred Edward Perlman December 1, 1970 - December 31, 1972
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 22, 1902 he graduated
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1923 with a
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree; attended the
Harvard School of Business Administration in 1931 and held the
degree of Doctor of Science from Clarkson Institute of Technology.
He was an honorary Bachelor of Laws of DePauw University.
Mr. Perlman's railroad career began on the Northern Pacific Railway in 1923. He was loaned by that road in 1934 to act as a consultant in the Railway Division of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He became Assistant Engineer of Maintenance of Way of the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1935 and joined the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company in 1936 as Engineer of Maintenance of Way. After some 18 years with the latter company, during which he served successively as Chief Engineer, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Mr. Perlman was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Central in 1954.
When he took command of the New York Central presidency in 1954, he began the transformation of the road from a passenger-oriented line built essentially for nineteenth-century purposes into a lean physical plant. One of his first duties was to tour the property. The Central was more passenger orientated than he had realized. There were a dozen passenger stations the size of St. Patricks cathedral and just as costly to heat. The freight tracks on the main line, in poor repair and signaled for thirty miles an hour, were incapable of providing a competitive freight service. West of Buffalo, along the south shore of Lake Erie where the Central and Nickel Plate ran side by side, the Nickel Plate's short, fast freights went darting past the Perlman inspection train on their lean, well-signaled single track line in a dazzling display of technological superiority, an embarrassment made even greater because they were pulled by steam locomotives.
On January 16, 1957, Alfred Perlman was the first to push the button at the Erie, Pa control center activating the world's longest stretch of Centralized Traffic Control with reverse signaling at a cost of $6,238,460. This allowed trains to move in either direction on either track, and was installed on the main line in a pioneering application of CTC in high-density, high-speed territory. One operator each shift could control the trains between Erie and Cleveland while another operator each shift controlled train movement between Erie and Buffalo. Improvements in service and reduction of maintenance costs were immediate.
Upon the merger of that company and the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968, Mr. Perlman was elected as President, Director and Chief Administrative Officer. He became Vice Chairman of the Board on December 1, 1969, a position he held until coming to the Western Pacific.
During his tenure with the Denver and Rio Grande Mr. Perlman was drafted for service as a consultant to the United States Department of State on Korean Railroads. He has also acted as consultant to the United States Government during World War II and as consultant to the Government of Israel on that country's railroads.
He left the Penn Central Transportation Company on November 30, 1970, to become President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Western Pacific, to which positions he was elected effective December 1, 1970. Mr. Perlman was 80 years old when he died on April 30, 1983 in Santa Clara, California.