Cubs WS rally extra service: Did it live up to the hype?

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Cubs WS rally extra service: Did it live up to the hype?

Postby MetraBNSF » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:17 pm

Based on media reports and anecdotal evidence, I'd undoubtedly say yes.

As early as 7:30am, masses of people dressed in seas of blue were literally pouring out of the downtown terminals. I work across the street from Ogilvie Transportation Center and every few minutes when a train arrives, seas of blue clad dressed people would pour out of the terminals.

One co-worker of mine got on a BNSF Napervile express train at Aurora and it was already SRO, swinging-by-the-rafters full BEFORE it got to Route 59. And this was a train that arrived at CUS before 7:30am.

The rest of the morning seemed to live up to what was reported.

After 1pm, things started to get fun.

I boarded BNSF extra train 9533, which was a Downers Grove express that left CUS at 1:28pm. This was an 11 car train that departed from track 2. I boarded this train with about 2 minutes to spare before the train was "scheduled" to depart. All of the train's doors were closed except for the two cars closest to the locomotive. The entire train resembled riding a CTA train during the height of rush hour...all cars full, all seats taken, SRO, swinging-by-the-rafters. This train departed about 5 minutes later. The practice was to fill the entire train then leave when full. This particular train continued to remain at or near capacity until at least Naperville, where I got off. Along the ride, it appeared as if BNSF significantly curtailed freight operations, as this run did not pass a single freight train. It also did not go center track until West Hinsdale. 9533 followed extra train 9407, a local making most stops to Fairview on MT1 until the West Hinsdale crossovers, then went center track to Fairview before returning to MT1 for the local run into Aurora.

While waiting at Naperville for BNSF train 1272 for the return to CUS, I saw one eastbound deadhead running back to CUS. The deadhead was an 11 car equipment train that was train 9535, which was a Naperville/59 express. At this point while at Naperville, this is where the madness at the downtown terminals was presumably occurring. 1272 arrived on-time in Naperville and made its normal stops and run to CUS. Along the run we passed one westbound freight train running center track and an eastbound equipment train later passed, also on the center track. Arrived back at CUS just after 5pm and this is where curious observation begins. It should also be noted that the engineer of 1272 was sounding the horn in short pulses while pulling in on track 4.

Next to my train on track 2 is BNSF 1257, which had not departed shortly after 5pm, had all of its doors closed, and was SRO in all 11 cars. While walking back to the concourse, 1257 departed. Still lots of people in the south concourse but it appeared crowds were slowly thinning down as it got closer to 5:30pm. There's constant announcements being made for trains on all lines, since equipment was arriving close to scheduled departure times or in some cases a few minutes late. Equipment for BNSF 1267 and 1269 both arrived close to their scheduled departure times. The engineer of 1267 also sounded the horn in short pulses while pulling in on track 2. All of the BNSF odd numbered trains in the 1260 series departed when full, no more than 5-10 min after its scheduled departure times.

Equipment for 1275 and 1279 was announced as being delayed and will arrive close to their scheduled departure times due to an alleged switch problem just outside the south end of CUS. Both of these train's equipment don't come from 14th St, they come from the road after earlier outbound runs. Equipment for 1275 arrived on track 14 3 minutes before its 5:41 departure, 1279's equipment arrived on track 12 6 minutes after its 5:49 departure. At this point, crowds have thinned to more normal levels and both of these trains loaded pretty quickly and got out, no more than 10 minutes after their scheduled departure times.

In the end, at least on the BNSF end I think service ran as best as it could given the circumstances. I didn't hear of any breakdowns or incidents, just lots of people taking the trains. In the south concourse, there were lots of clearly marked Metra and BNSF personnel directing and helping people. I've seen the photos of the crush of people at CUS and also OTC, but all told I think Friday was handled very well.
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Re: Cubs WS rally extra service: Did it live up to the hype?

Postby doepack » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:36 am

Thanks for the report. Trains were pretty much filled to capacity on UP/W as well, with the ticket line in Wheaton stretching out of the depot as early as 6am. Some 9 car trains were SRO as early as Geneva, and at least two bypassed Wheaton, eventually creating a mob of Cubbie blue on the platform unlike anything I've ever seen that broke out in cheers and applause when a train finally did stop there. And just to add to the fun, a couple of regular nine car sets have been running a car short lately, just in time for the massive crowds. Judging by radio chatter, everything after Metra 20 was an ad-hoc affair, the regular schedule simply didn't (and couldn't) exist after that. Unlike BNSF, there wasn't much deadheading, one set came from OTC. and turned back at CPY024 (University, new control point approx. 1/2 E. of the Wheaton depot), and there may have been another that turned back at Elmhurst, but both were in the morning, and there were none in the afternoon. Despite that, commuter control did their best to keep things moving, but there were just too many people.

I'm not sure I understand why it was decided to cancel trains evening rush 49 & 55, it seems to me that one of the afternoon extras could have been turned around to make at least one of those runs. Stops were added to the rest of the trains, but most were running in excess of 10 min. late. 47, the OTC-Wheaton super express, clocked in about 15 min. late, packed to the gills. Usually picks up 45's train control around Glen Ellyn, but since 45 was delayed too, it probably got hit earlier, and delayed the rest of the parade of course.

I don't know what Metra's highest single-day ridership record is, but they report the second highest total as 425,000, which was achieved in 2013 for the Blackhawks rally. Once the figures are in, the Cubs rally could very well surpass that...
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Re: Cubs WS rally extra service: Did it live up to the hype?

Postby MACTRAXX » Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:51 pm

Everyone:

Interesting observations about METRA service to the Cubs victory celebration...

In case anyone did not know WGN America - along with MLB Network - carried the festivities
live - I was able to watch some of it and was impressed by the massive crowds all along the
Parade route from Wrigley Field to Downtown Chicago and Grant Park by way of Lake Shore
Drive and North Michigan Avenue...

Will METRA make ridership stats available for each line and be able to make an estimate on
how many extra passengers METRA carried on Friday November 4th?

Will there be a similar count on how CTA Rapid Transit service was increased and which routes
saw the most riders heading for this celebration?

When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 were records kept by both METRA and CTA
concerning extra ridership to that celebration back then?

Remembering that White Sox fans tend to live on the South Side or in the South or SW Suburbs
it will be interesting to see how ridership was from the Rock Island District and SWS trains and
the CTA Dan Ryan Line...and METRA Electric...

METRA Electric - which was one of the best ways to get to the Cubs celebration at Grant Park -
probably had strong ridership thanks to this factor nonetheless...

November 4, 2016 will most likely be remembered by celebrating all things Chicago Cubs...
This one was 108 years in the making :wink:

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Re: Cubs WS rally extra service: Did it live up to the hype?

Postby Passenger » Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:58 am

Purely anecdotal, but it seemed to me that it was less crowded going home on METRA than that time with the Blackhawks, yet the crowds in town were said to be bigger than anything.
Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is a very important science.
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