The Consolidated Rail Corporation, commonly known as Conrail (reporting markCR), was the primary Class I railroad in the Northeast U.S. between 1976 and 1999. The federal government created it to take over the potentially profitable lines of multiple bankrupt carriers, including the Penn Central Transportation Company and Erie Lackawanna Railway. With the benefit of regulatory changes, Conrail began to turn a profit in the 1980s and was turned over to private investors in 1987. The two remaining Class I railroads in the East, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS), agreed in 1997 to split the system approximately equally, returning rail freight competition to the Northeast by essentially undoing the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad that created Penn Central. Following Surface Transportation Board approval, CSX and NS took control in August 1998, and on June 1, 1999, began operating their portions of Conrail.