consolidated rail corporation
Rising like a Congressionally-mandated Phoenix from the ashes of several bankrupt eastern railroads on April 1, 1976, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) was a quasi-public holding company that sought to preserve regional rail access and competition. The Ann Arbor was one of the railroads initially evaluated for inclusion in Conrail, but ultimately the Annie was left out, resulting in the State of Michigan purchasing the line... and ironically enough, turning around and immediately naming Conrail as its first lease-operator.
Under Conrail's fledgling leadership, Annie equipment wandered far from home rails: a little internet research will reveal AA GP35s ranging well into Ohio and Pennsylvania, as Conrail pooled its motive power system-wide. This practice didn't exactly sit well with the Ann Arbor's new owner, and the Conrail lease barely lasted a year before they were replaced by the Michigan Interstate Railway Company Operator in 1977.
Conrail did, however, assume and maintain control of the ex-MC/NYC/PC line from Detroit to Chicago, and interchanged with the Ann Arbor in its namesake city, just west of the Amtrak station and past the iconic bridge that carries the Annie's main line over the Conrail main and the Huron River. Conrail's influence on the Annie can be seen in the many photos of Ferry Yard in the late 70s and early 80s, where the tracks always seemed to be chock-full of brown 50' Conrail boxcars and green ex-PC/NYC 50' boxcars.
Ultimately divided up and dissolved into a joint CSX/Norfolk Southern takeover in the late 1990s, Conrail is nevertheless an interesting railroad worthy of mention and modeling, so I have a decent sampling of rolling stock appropriate for the era.
Conrail SD7 #6998 (w/DCC & sound)
runs light over a bridge on my display layout