Mercury was the name used by the New York Central Railroad for a family of daytime streamlined passenger trains operating between Mid-western cities. The Mercury train sets were designed in 1936 by the noted industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, and are considered a prime example of Art Deco design. The success of the Mercury led to Dreyfuss getting the commission for the 1938 redesign of the NYC’s flagship, the 20th Century Limited, perhaps the most famous train in America.
The United States government formed Conrail to salvage the profitable lines of several bankrupt railroads, including the Penn Central and the Erie Lackawanna Railway. After regulatory changes, Conrail was able to turn a profit in the 80s and by 1987 was turned over to private investors. In 1997, the last two remaining Class I railroads in the Eastern U.S., the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX Transportation, agreed to split the system equally, which essentially brought back rail freight competition in the Northeast by undoing the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad that formed Penn Central.