Business: Uncle, Can You Spare Some Millions?

AS plain as a red signal on the main track, the ominous figures in quarterly earnings reports showed for months that the Penn Central Transportation Co. was in precarious financial condition. The nation's largest railroad and its parent corporation, the Penn Central Co., are among the wealthiest companies in the U.S. (assets: $7 billion). But the railroad is burdened with debt, beset by spiral ing costs, tangled operations, a drop in freight shipments and the $100 million annual drain of unwanted passenger service. As a result, a convulsion last week shook the once-mighty...

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