Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Tadman
 
One more Q - I bought a ticket, and the site states all tickets bought after 3/20 are to be picked up on-site. If I want to board at Clark/Lake instead of Rosemont, should I just flag the train down? and should I be on inside or outside loop? I've got an even to attend and picking up the train at 10 downtown versus 9 at Rosemont is much easier for a downtown guy like me.

Thanks!
  by lstone19
 
How about downstairs in the subway since the train will be coming in the Blue Line from Rosemont. Although after the trip through the Dearnord Street subway, we are obviously going up the ramp to the Pink Line and then through the Loop enroute to, I believe, the Green Line heading south (maybe just for yuks, we'll go the Wells and Van Buren sides of the Loop and miss Clark/Lake up top).
  by byte
 
A note about Clark/Lake: It is a designated "passenger pickup" stop, but we will be going through the subway station, not the elevated. As per a preliminary trip schedule I have, our arrival there will be at 10:05, but this is preliminary so just to be safe, if you're getting on there you might want to be ready by 9:50.
  by Tadman
 
byte, David, and others - thank you for a fantastic fan trip. I enjoyed myself a lot and somehow found my way to the back vestibule in 2220. We seemed to be the end of train most of the trip, but got to experience Skokie Shops and Howard Yard as the head end. What a neat trip. I've got a bunch of photos on webshots here:

http://community.webshots.com/album/577161777ahxLZv

And I'm trying to get pics uploaded to railpictures.net - if they go through, I'll post the URL here.

Thanks again guys!
  by byte
 
I was one of the car captains of 2285, the third car in the consist. Had a blast, even though I was "working." I didn't get around to shooting any photos (my camera battery is still all charged up from last night) but did get some video, which I'll post as soon as I upload it from the camera.

Something new on this trip was the addition of a "drumhead" type illuminated sign on the rear/front of the train. This was a project myself and a few other railroad buddies financed (all of us current or alumni members of the Illini Railroad Club) and put together over the past month or so. The sign itself is a plastic round "box" sign, basically what you see in the window of every Starbucks, with suitable modifications for hanging it off the front of a train (hooks, a light switch in the back, some strips of metal bolted inside to reinforce the plastic shell). We had two sign faces - one for the Snowflake Special, and one for the Illini Railroad Club itself, who used to own a similar drumhead which got used on IRC charter trips back in the 60's featuring IRM's Inglehome Pullman observation car, and an Illinois Terminal observation car which the museum also owns. This way, the enclosure itself can be used on Snowflake Specials with that insert on the front, and on the Inglehome and IT obs car at the museum with the IRC insert. In the meantime, I may try to put it inside a display case in IRM's barn 8. The drumhead performed admirably during the trip (one passenger referred to it as a "button"), although the motorcycle battery powering the thing cut out during the last few hours.
  by lstone19
 
I had a blast. Besides the mainline running, we spent time, by my count, eight locations where revenue passenger trains never or seldom venture: in order, Rosemont yard, the ramp from Blue Line to the Pink Line (former revenue trackage), Lower 63rd yard, Upper 63rd yard, the ramp from the Green Line to the State Street Subway (more former revenue trackage), Skokie Shops, Howard yard, and Linden yard. In addition to a couple of middle tracks, rarely used crossovers, and the rarely used West on Lake to South on Wells connector at Tower 18 and East on Van Buren to South on Wabash connector at Tower 12. Also, by dumb luck, we managed to time a crossing over the St. Charles Air Line right as an Amtrak train, I assume #390 (The Saluki), was passing underneath.

The race with a Red Line train from Belmont to Fullerton was fun (as was seeing the revenue passengers who just won't listen to announcements and waited for the next train at Fullerton despite repeated announcements as well as some of us trying to tell them that the train on Track 1 (normal Brown Line track) was a Red Line train).

The trip into Lower 63rd yard was very interesting. We wondered how long it had been since there had been a train on that track since we had overhanging tree branches scraping the train. The track ended at a bumper across the street from and in plain sight of an apartment building. I'm waiting for news stories about how the CTA managed to route a train full of passengers right to the end of a yard track. :-)

So, after last year's and this year's, all we're missing is the two ends of the Green Line (Ashland beyond the junction and E63rd beyond the 63rd yards), Yellow beyond Skokie Shops, and Pink beyond Harrison Jct. where the connector from the Blue line comes in.
  by Tadman
 
Byte, were you the guy in the Cubs hat changing drumheads? If so, I was the guy in the blue vest/brown sweater in the vestibule of 2220.

A shot of the drumhead at Division:
Image


And the IRC drumhead - a q&d as the train left Fullerton for the Loop (I got off early to head home):
Image

As far as the shots I mentioned I submited to railpictures.net, they were rejected. I'm not a pro, but I took some decent shots and wrote some decent captions - special move and rare mileage, etc... and I think the screeners hit the "select random rejection reason" button. My shots follow most common rules of thumb such as framing and light on the subject - I've seen some rejections before and they range from good to truly awful. The awful I can understand, but there are some good shots being rejected.
  by lstone19
 
With all due respect to Tadman, here's a picture of the IRC drumhead that's more readable.
IMGP3294.jpg
And ready for some baseball?
IMGP3252.jpg
  by byte
 
Tadman wrote:Byte, were you the guy in the Cubs hat changing drumheads? If so, I was the guy in the blue vest/brown sweater in the vestibule of 2220.
Yes, that was me! Actually after we changed that out and I was back in the 2285, I was wondering if that was you in the 2220. So I guess that makes two people on this board I met on the trip (David Harrison parked right behind me at Rosemont). I recognized a ton of faces from IRM, CERA, etc on board, and we even had a troupe of 3-4 photographers chasing us like they do on steam excursions. I guess that's a nice little validation point that these Snowflake Specials are getting some "street cred" amongst the local foamer population...
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Good morning guys....Dave Harrison here. I am personally pleased that everyone had a good time. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. My personal highlight has to be the "horse race"...I mean the pacing move of the two trains from Belmont all the way down to Fullerton with the "photo finish" to the delight of all the photographers lined up at the north end of the platform. I will shortly be emailing the genral manager of rail, Bruce Nelson, to get the full name of the switchman who piloted our yard moves at Skokie and at Howard yard so that I can send a formal letter to Bruce's boss commending him and his staff for the excellent job of planning and executing the charter. Thanks too for posting your pics so quickly. Any shots of the crowd in the Howard trainroom, LOL?

Dave
  by Tadman
 
David, the gent handling switches at Skokie and Howard also alternated motorman duties with our Skokie/Evanston motorman. Both were extremely polite and darn good at their job. I was in 2220, which was the head end for the trip through Skokie and Howard yards and thoroughly enjoyed the ride and the crew banter.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDhosPAKEHI
2010 IRM Snowflake A Roaring Success

One of our passengers posted this video of the southbound "horse race" ..... eh, pacing of the six car IRM Snowflake Special with a regular in service SB Red Line train from Belmont AV to the exciting "photo finish" at Fullerton AV, one mile distance. To me, this too was the high point of the whole day of events of the sold out, six car charter of 2200 Budd cars, the oldest operating cars on the CTA "L".

This four track stretch of the northside mainline "L" is called the Clark Corridor and features railroad like CTC capabilities, including several remote interlockings and four track multi-directional travel. To set up the move, Clark Tower routed us into Belmont station on track two, since a Brown Line train was nearby. The Brown line train came in on its normal track one route, our photographers loaded up on that train and headed south to Fullerton. The charter then sat at Belmont on track two with plenty of announcements..."Attention Red line passengers, do not board the train standing on the inside track, this is not a Red line train!"



After about ten minutes waiting, the next Red line train was routed onto track one and with dual sets of PA announcements, doors closed on both trains and we were off. I had previously asked the manager in charge if he planned to talk to the operator of whatever road train we would pace, and he replied that that would not be necessary. When the race started, I looked across into the Red line train's front cab and discovered why....the road train had been commandeered and the controls were taken over by our charter supervisor and assistant manager in charge. Normal cab signal would have always given a win to the train on track number one, it has a straight approach to Fullerton and a 55 MPH all the way. Track two gets a 35 MPH about 1000 feet out because of a jog to make room for the platform. For our staged move, 35 MPH all the way was agreed upon by both crews. There was even a mid stream handshake between the two full width cabs, LOL.

At Fullerton, aftr the race, the Red line train departed and Clark tower crossed it back to its normal route on track two. We loaded our photographers and followed its departure and were routed over to track one for our southbound trip to the Loop. The entire fundraising attracted 279 ticket purchasers and was a success all around for IRM.

David Harrison
  by ChiTransitFan
 
David...glad you liked the video. Sorry for the 'shakes' at the end...I had the camera set on the railing at the end of the platform...the shaking is from the trains passing by.

Anyway, I've uploaded another video, this time from 35st to the 61st yard. I'll get part 2 which goes to the 63rd st lower yard posted as soon as I can. I've also got some video of the Skokie shops...will work on that next.

Find the videos on youtube by searching for user The1958mgmga.

Thanks for the excellent narration and great time...I'm already looking forward to next year.

ChiTransitFan / Terry / Romeoville IL
  by byte
 
Tadman wrote: As far as the shots I mentioned I submited to railpictures.net, they were rejected. I'm not a pro, but I took some decent shots and wrote some decent captions - special move and rare mileage, etc... and I think the screeners hit the "select random rejection reason" button. My shots follow most common rules of thumb such as framing and light on the subject - I've seen some rejections before and they range from good to truly awful. The awful I can understand, but there are some good shots being rejected.
A note on RP and the CTA, and rapid transit photography over there in general: They don't like it. You have a better chance of getting a photo in the database if its of yet another BNSF or UP dash-9 going around a curve in the middle of nowhere. Or the NS executive units, they seem to love those too. But not so much the CTA, NYCTA, etc. I've even seen posts on the RP forum where the posters on their forum call the "L" boring, the trains aren't "real," etc. I gave up on that site last fall and had my photos removed after Trains Magazine called me and told me I'd placed in their annual photo contest, with a CTA shot that RP rejected three times.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Byte and others...no argument from me that RP or as I call it Dot Net can be tough. But if you are determined and have no other life, getting pics onto their database can happen. I know, I've got 60 on there, and I did it all within about six months last year. The forum over there has a lot of helpful guys, plus I've gotten many comments saying to the effect..."I though "L"s were boring, but your photos have shown me the way."

Here are a few samples.

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David Harrison