METRA Hiliners status please

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METRA Hiliners status please

Postby frankgaron2 » Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:14 pm

Hi There:

I have a business trip to Chicago in 2 weeks and am wondering if there are still any of the original Hiliners in service?

Thanks,

Frank
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby Tadman » Fri Dec 18, 2015 10:15 pm

Still a few floating around. There are retirees parked at Kensington Yard (westerly side of main) if you can't find any running, but you have to see them from a running train. No road access. Your best bet is 18th street yard between rush hours or watching the outbound rush. I'll take a look next week and see if I can spy any around. They're not totally gone but significantly diminished.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby byte » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:33 pm

Not exactly an answer to the asked question, but the museum in Mendota (who got a couple brown-and-orange ones when the first round of 1200s were delivered) has sold theirs to a scrapper, who is doing their thing with the cars in a nearby industrial lot. Plainly visible to anyone taking Amtrak through the area (which is how I know).
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby JLJ061 » Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:43 pm

Why did Mendota sell them off?
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby Milwaukee_F40C » Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:06 pm

A plausible reason is that they didn't fit the mission of such a small museum, and they take up too much space. Hopefully IRM got some mechanical and cosmetic parts. I think most of the brown and orange cars still had a lot of the IC era exterior features which were changed with the silver paint scheme.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby byte » Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:48 am

Milwaukee_F40C wrote:Hopefully IRM got some mechanical and cosmetic parts.


Nope, we sure didn't.

Milwaukee_F40C wrote:I think most of the brown and orange cars still had a lot of the IC era exterior features which were changed with the silver paint scheme.


There weren't any IC-era exterior features on the orange/brown cars which the blue/silver cars didn't have. Every single Highliner was put through a rehab in the early 90s which revised all cars in the fleet to the same specification; the first cars in this process were done in-house by Metra and kept the brown/orange. The rest of the cars were done by MK and painted blue/silver.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby Milwaukee_F40C » Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:03 am

Some of them kept the gong bell on the front and the split windows, I thought there were other things that were part of the older look.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby byte » Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:32 pm

The "gong" bells are similar to what you'd find at any set of grade crossing gates - nothing too rare about them. A select few cars did retain the original split windows (including at least one in blue-and-silver) but they were almost completely fogged over due to age. Some "authentic" IC exterior components might be nice gee-wiz items to collect, but they're not going back on any of the cars IRM has; it's been solidly decided that they will remain in Metra blue-and-silver and in the same state they were circa 2014/2015.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby Tadman » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:01 pm

Milwaukee_F40C wrote:A plausible reason is that they didn't fit the mission of such a small museum, and they take up too much space. Hopefully IRM got some mechanical and cosmetic parts. I think most of the brown and orange cars still had a lot of the IC era exterior features which were changed with the silver paint scheme.


That makes total sense but it's kinda nuts seeing as that they never did fit, and the museum held on to them for 10-ish years. I took the chief quite a lot from 2004 to 2009 and always wondered what the cars were doing there, along with a MILW combine and a Cadillac and Lake City diner. None of which had much to do with Mendota, CB&Q, or western Illinois.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby byte » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:34 pm

Tadman wrote:That makes total sense but it's kinda nuts seeing as that they never did fit, and the museum held on to them for 10-ish years. I took the chief quite a lot from 2004 to 2009 and always wondered what the cars were doing there, along with a MILW combine and a Cadillac and Lake City diner. None of which had much to do with Mendota, CB&Q, or western Illinois.


I had a chat with some volunteers at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum (tidy place with friendly people) last summer. When the first twenty-six new Highliners were delivered in ~2005(?) they were one of three non-profits which immediately got some of the old cars (Mendota and the Boone & Scenic Valley RR being the others). HVRRM got four, Mendota got two, and BSVRR got six - and all were free. I think that's the big reason they wound up in some unlikely places - the price was right. The HVRRM folks told me it was their original intent to use the cars as coaches, but discovered the Highliners are very, very different from any other type of passenger car out there. You can't MU them to a diesel to use as a cab car. They don't use the typical 480vDC Head End Power spec and are electrically a one-of-a-kind fleet. Adapter couplers are comparable to the Dodo bird in their rarity. HVRRM also falls under FRA regulatory authority (they operate on track owned by a local municipality and is officially considered within the national network). Because of this, a Highliner is considered a locomotive and must undergo the same regular inspections as they received while in Metra service. A necessary obligation for a commuter rail authority, but hardly worth it for a museum which might run them a hundred miles in a calendar year. Want to make them a non-locomotive in the eyes of the FRA? All you have to do is drop out the traction motors and disable the driving cab. But then you have the question of whether the artifact is preserved properly. And the issue of how to power the lights, doors, and HVAC in train service still hasn't been addressed if you can make it a coach in the FRA's eyes. Also remember that running sealed-window cars without operating HVAC is a sure-fire way for your local RR museum to generate some very nasty Yelp reviews from paying customers. These circumstances which prevent cars like these from being usable in a museum setting are unfortunate, but when the cars themselves are free it's not such a huge loss for the organization.

On a related topic, the last trip for old Highliners is supposedly on Friday, February 12th. Train will be leaving Millennium at 10:30a, heading to University Park (looks like train #117 per the timetable) and flipping around for a return trip back downtown (probably #122 - leaves UP at 11:57 and gets downtown at 12:57).
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby Tadman » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:28 am

Byte, thanks for the useful post.

Regarding the last highliner trip, I've heard mixed messages on the return northbound. Some are saying it's replacement equipment so the oldies can deadhead to KYD. Any ideas?

As expected, the Highliners are just not a good fit for many museums for many reasons. They're as unloved by museums as they were by the IC.

And finally, your thoughts on HVRM are right on. I visited a few years back when 765 was in town. What a nice place and a good group of people. You can tell they take a lot of pride in the place. I hear the city of North Judson (owner of track) and Indiana Boxcar (common carrier operator) are at odds right now, I hope they can get it figured out as they do ship a fair amount of cars every year. Wiki says they'e grown from 700 to 3000.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby byte » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:02 pm

Yeah, after that last post I went snooping around on the internet and found some other post about the final trip being a one-way run to University Park on train #117, and the return on #122 being on new cars. No idea if it's true or not but there are a couple weeks to find out. It would be a no-brainer for Metra to put out a press release on this final trip, and I'd expect to see one maybe a week before. I'm hoping to make this one last trip; it'll likely be the last time anyone rides an old Highliner at a good 60mph.

HVRRM's track is interesting. Some of it has welded rail, and was carrying Amtrak's Floridian at 79mph until 1979. Of course, the wayside signaling has since been removed and the museum's trains currently run at a more "relaxed" pace, but you can tell it's still good track. I got wind of the museum not seeing eye-to-eye with IBCX during my visit, apparently due to the latter not performing needed maintenance in a timely manner (and I wasn't terribly surprised at this given that IBCX is all that's left of the [in]famous Indiana Hi-Rail system). As it was explained to me, however, these disagreements really aren't a big deal in the long run - the Town of North Judson owns the track, and designates who the common carrier operator is through a railroad advisory committee. Coincidentally, several HVRRM members are on said committee! So if the current operator isn't fulfilling their end of the bargain, it's just a matter of the town (representing the interests of the museum) waiting out the current contract and then designating a new (different) operator.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: 2016 METRA Highliner One MU car status...

Postby MACTRAXX » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:21 pm

Byte and Everyone:

I was wondering what the current status of the still operating Highliner cars were and I instantly took notice
to the last run which is scheduled to be in February...Is anyone planning a "Farewell to the Highliners" fan trip?

This topic should be combined and included with the Highliner retirement thread which has been inactive since
the middle of October 2015 since the information here adds to what has already been posted there...

What I have not seen is just how many older Highliner MU cars are still active and in service and if anyone
knows where they can be found in operation on given trains - as we all realize time is running out here and
the total conversion of Metra Electric to the Highliner Two car fleet is almost complete...

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Re: 2016 METRA Highliner One MU car status...

Postby Tadman » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:13 am

MACTRAXX wrote:Is anyone planning a "Farewell to the Highliners" fan trip?


I might be wrong but I think IRM ran such trip about a year ago or more. I couldn't make it, unfortunately.
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Re: METRA Hiliners status please

Postby CHTT1 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:20 pm

The Illinois Railway Museum special was last March. It was pretty cool, covered the main line, South Chicago and Blue Island routes. I'll miss the original Highliners, most comfortable seating in all commuter rail.
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