Metra UP-W Improvement Project

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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby EricL » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:11 am

It probably has to do with the holiday, but really, "men at work" does not automatically equate to "form B". For example, trackmen can sometimes be protected solely by track blocks granted by the dispatcher, e.g., track and time. They just have to be absolutely sure not to leave any men or machines in the foul of the other active track(s). Form B's are most common because they provide flexibility to both MOW personnel and the dispatcher (and the onus for getting authorization through the limits falls completely on the train crew).

In the case of major work, a combination of both Form B protection and Track & Time / Track Permit / Track Out of Service procedures is usually employed. This way, the track being worked on is blocked out on the dispatcher's purview, preventing any unwitting misrouting - and the remaining "active" track(s) remain usable to him. It would be a lot of work for the dispatcher to essentially re-open and re-close that "active" track whenever a train needed to get through, so the form B method allows him to leave it "open" all the time, and have the train crew deal directly with the foreman to get permission through. And of course, form B limits can be placed anywhere, whereas track & time can only be granted between controlled points.

There is a delicate balance to be struck for a foreman to determine whether or not a form B will be necessary to do his work. A lot of time, it is largely unnecessary, since his men almost always remain in the clear of the "active" track(s), and it ends up serving solely as a mechanism for him to know you're coming. (And to delay trains.) Therefore I find it to be kind of a breath of fresh air when work can manage to get accomplished, without the trouble of the engineer trying to make out a scratchy radio transmission from a guy who might barely speak English.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:07 am

EricL wrote:It would be a lot of work for the dispatcher to essentially re-open and re-close that "active" track whenever a train needed to get through, so the form B method allows him to leave it "open" all the time, and have the train crew deal directly with the foreman to get permission through. And of course, form B limits can be placed anywhere, whereas track & time can only be granted between controlled points.


Sometimes though, Omaha dispatchers do have this extra burden, especially when they have to route Metra traffic down the center track between Elmhurst to Winfield whenever there's track work/construction going on, passengers will board/exit trains from either the nearby street, or a crosswalk. If a Form B includes a track & time permit that closes off either tracks 1 or 3, Metra crews will call Omaha for a "block" on one of the other active tracks if they have to use the wheelchair lift at a certain stop, so that the dispatcher can keep opposing traffic in the vicinity out of the station in question until the block is lifted. Usually doesn't last more than 2-3 minutes, but as you can see, when combined with using just one car to load/unload passengers, it can slow down service to a crawl, especially when certain trains have to use the lift 2 or 3 times during center track running. 'Tis the nature of beast, I suppose.

Appreciate the insight as always Eric, thanks...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby EricL » Sun May 08, 2011 5:30 pm

Getting a block on an intervening track is best practice, but the GCOR rules provide that passenger work across such track can be done so long as a safeguard is provided. A "safeguard" might be something as simple as communicating with the nearby train(s)/person(s) and letting them know that you intend to make that station stop shortly, and are they able to stay in the clear? UP might have some local special instructions explicitly requiring the intervention of the DS, I suppose.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Sun May 22, 2011 12:01 pm

The concrete bases for the absolutes at Lombard are finally going into place, with poles, cabling, and other related materials laid out along the north side of the ROW just west of Addison Road, and east of Grace St. Speaking of which, Grace St. is closed once again to thru traffic, as upgrades to this crossing continue. President St. in Wheaton received similar work last week, work is slated to begin on Main St. Wheaton this week. The reign of Form B's continue...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:06 pm

At long last, the absolutes for the new Lombard plant finally went up over the weekend, eastbound signals at 19.5, westbounds at 19.2, with the grade crossing at Grace St. smack dab in the middle of the plant, as expected. Hoods still on the masts, with some cabling work to be done. Hopefully, it won't be too much longer before they finally flip the switch.

Also, a new intermediate signal bridge has gone up at MP 17.2, in Villa Park, just off Villa Ave, meaning that UP/W now has wayside signals spaced roughly a mile apart between Elmhurst (Park interlocking) and West Chicago (Turner interlocking)...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby qboy » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:28 pm

CP Lombard is finally in service as of 0001 10/29/11.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:56 am

Thanks, qboy, and it sure was a long time coming. Been out of the area for a few days, but turned on my radio upon coming home last night, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear CPY019 now in service; and from the little I've heard so far since being home, Omaha isn't shy about using the new interlocking, which is good.

At long last, progress...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:35 pm

Finally got a chance to check out all 43 miles of UP/W this weekend, courtesy of the $7 weekend pass, of course. Besides the new wayside signals in the DuPage county corridor (of which there are 12 in all, between MP 16.3 and 28.5), there's a few other developments of note:

-- I observed an outbound freight from Proviso heading on to the IHB via the new connection in Bellwood, a flyover that curves over the UP mains linking the two railroads just east of the existing connection at Provo junction. It is part of the B2 project of the CREATE program, which will eventually also include a new third main track in this area. Construction on the new connection finished up late last summer, and was brought online within the last two months or so. While the old connection to the IHB at Provo junction remains in use (primarily by UP autorack trains heading west from IHB's Gibson yard), the old connection to Proviso off MT1 has been removed for now. It may be reconfigured to link to the new main going in; don't know for sure, will have to wait and see...

-- A new signal bridge has gone up in Bellwood at 25th Ave, hoods are still on the masts. IIRC, the signals were facing east, which leads me to think these could also be related to the B2 project, or perhaps they're just upgrades...

-- And for you CNW fans, the horizontal-style signals of CNW vintage still guard the west end of Turner interlocking in West Chicago. For those interested in pictures, they can be easily seen off the east end of the West Chicago depot. Though I'm uncertain of the timetable, considering all of the other newer signals that have gone up recently, I do suspect UP plans to replace these eventually...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:42 am

doepack wrote:-- And for you CNW fans, the horizontal-style signals of CNW vintage still guard the west end of Turner interlocking in West Chicago. For those interested in pictures, they can be easily seen off the east end of the West Chicago depot. Though I'm uncertain of the timetable, considering all of the other newer signals that have gone up recently, I do suspect UP plans to replace these eventually...


Oops, better clear this up: The signals here now show indications vertically, not horizontally, as I had said; though they once did before. However, the bridge upon which these signals are mounted date from the CNW era...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby EJ&ESDM809 » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:22 am

UP is currently doing preliminary work to replace the CNW signal bridge east of the diamonds at JB Tower, new concrete bases that will hold up the new bridge are in the ground. I would assume the bridge west of the tower will be replaced as well, so it would be wise to get your shots of both the bridges now. That new signal bridge at 25th Avenue has been up for several months now, I would assume it will be cut over when the third main is opened perhaps. There's another new signal bridge for westbound trains up but covered by the Melrose Park station.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:19 pm

EJ&ESDM809 wrote:There's another new signal bridge for westbound trains up but covered by the Melrose Park station.


Got a closer look at those over the weekend, they're located at MP 11.3, not quite 50 feet west of the 19th Ave. grade crossing. Facing east, tracks 1 & 2 have a top and bottom mast, with a single mast for the new main going in what I'll assume to be track 3, on the south side. The project description indicates that control points will be reconfigured at three locations, so these could be the new home (absolute) signals for CPY011. We'll see.

Also, as a side note, intermediates with horizontal indications can still be found in Oak Park, at MP 8.0 and 8.8. I think these are among the last of them, at least in commuter territory...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby qboy » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:45 pm

Among all those things listed from the previous post. With the cooperation of Mother Nature work continues on drainage improvements between Berkley and Bellwood to the north of the mainline. Also just east of I294 you can see the eventual new westbound home signals for Park to accommodate the new 3rd trk. There is also a new outbound signal about east of the current outbound 2 signal. CP Park, CP Provo, and CP 25th Ave will all be reconfigured to make room for the new main trk1. You can see as well where they have blocked off some of the parking spots at Bellwood to so at some point they can start work on a pedestrian tunnel the same will happen for Berkley too. And the mainline will be shifted closer to the new connection at CP Provo which should smooth things out quite a bit. You can see how freights will be able to come of the hill and either go into the yard or come down on the main and head west . Thats how it was explain to us TE&Y crews. Work should also start on the bridge over the Des Plaines Rivers later in the year. Eventually CP Vale will be reconfigured too. I keep hearing they want to move Vale a little further east of between Oak Park and River Forest. CP Wheaton should also get started later on this year besides just the wiring thats been going on for a while. There may be some changes to Lombard station also down the road too so they can get rid of the hold out rule. Of course there still the work on closing the gap there between CP Kress and Peck don't know when that will start. I'm hope the show some the exact plans how things should look in the near future.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby qboy » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:50 pm

By the way some Old Head told the signals that are turned to their side are E type signals I don't know if thats true. There is one more of those signals between Kedzie and Western.
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:36 am

qboy wrote:Among all those things listed from the previous post. With the cooperation of Mother Nature work continues on drainage improvements between Berkley and Bellwood to the north of the mainline. Also just east of I294 you can see the eventual new westbound home signals for Park to accommodate the new 3rd trk. There is also a new outbound signal about east of the current outbound 2 signal.


Hm. I rode through there last week, and while going through Park, I noticed hoods on a set of signals near what appeared to be outbound 2, looked like it was being deactivated. Are these the ones being replaced by the new signals?

qboy wrote:CP Park , CP Provo, and CP 25th Ave will all be reconfigured to make room for the new main trk1. You can see as well where they have blocked off some of the parking spots at Bellwood to so at some point they can start work on a pedestrian tunnel the same will happen for Berkley too. And the mainline will be shifted closer to the new connection at CP Provo which should smooth things out quite a bit.


Speaking of Provo, when the new main is built, and Provo is reconfigured, will all traffic be shifted to the new connection? Will the current connection off IHB to MT2 still exist, or will it be torn up? I think a handful of trains still use it in both directions...

qboy wrote:Of course there still the work on closing the gap there between CP Kress and Peck don't know when that will start.


I've heard that won't start until the grade separation project at Roosevelt Rd. gets going; which is also part of CREATE, project GS25. I'm not aware of a timetable for that either, but man, I swear that can't happen soon enough. The delays caused by those eastbound coal trains blocking Roosevelt road can be stifling, lasting 10-15 min. as they creep toward the CN via West Chicago yard going about 5-10mph. That will no doubt be a much awaited improvement...

qboy wrote: I'm hope the show some the exact plans how things should look in the near future.


Yeah, I'd love to get my grimy little mitts on the actual plans; it would sure cut down on the guesswork.


Thanks for the updates, qboy. Much appreciated...
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Re: Metra UP-W Improvement Project

Postby doepack » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:57 am

Certain areas have had much activity recently, to wit:

Melrose Park:

The new interlocking configuration at CPY011/25th Ave. is taking shape, with additional crossovers installed, and a short extension of a previously stub-ended track to what will be the new westbound home signal at 19th Ave. In viewing the layout, it would seem that the main benefit will be the ability of getting westbound trains into Proviso more quickly by using a new crossover located a 1/2 mile east of the existing one. Don't think they've flipped the switch yet, but it definitely won't be long now...


Berkeley:

Excavation work is well under way, with a deep trench dug out along the north side of the tracks and under the mains next to the west side of the depot, as work continues on the new underground tunnel that will connect both platforms; and will become the fifth station on the route to have one when complete. (Elmhurst, College Ave., West Chicago, and LaFox are the others...)

Wheaton:

Prep work for construction of the new control point has begun, with trailers and work materials slowly arriving on the scene in recent weeks; especially in the area between Washington St. and President St. (approx. MP 24.0-24.5) along the south side of the ROW. Last I heard, the Chase St. closure is still part of the project, though no official date has been announced yet on the city's website. Will have to stay tuned.


All in all, it looks like a very interesting summer coming up, as the transformation continues...
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