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 Chicagopcclcars
 
The 2012 annual CTA "L" charter sponsored by the Illinois Railway Museum, the" Snowflake Special," was announced today for Sunday, March 25, 2012. The all-day charter will consist of a six-car train of 2400 series cars, departing Harlem/Lake on the Green line at 8:45 am. The charter will operate on the Green, Pink, Blue, Brown, Purple, and Yellow lines and will include the popular "head to head" horserace with a Red line train. Participants will get an "up close" look at two new stations under construction and a "runby" of the sidelined fleet of new Bombardier AC5000 cars. Last year's charter using 2200 series Budd cars was a sell-out. Both the 2200 and 2400 series cars are scheduled to be retired whenever the new Bombardier cars come on line. Further information and ticket sales on line will be handled by the IRM website.

http://www.irm.org/events/snowflakespecial.html

David Harrison
  by steve4031
 
I saw the annoucement on the Internet and booked a couple a days ago. This is my first One. What can I expect.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Expect an all-day tour, it is a six car train, all seats are unreserved, photography without any hassles, commentary over train PA, photo stops and pickups, answers to any questions from a knowledgable train crew. Your tickets will be mailed, you may drive to Harlem/South BLVD in Oak Park and park free in commuter lot or at meters. Or you may ride a regular Green line train from the Loop. Use the CTA trip planner to get times for trains arriving in advance of our leave time. The train will be making moves not made by regular trains.... for instance we'll depart Harlem/Lake at 8:45 Northbound!!!!...we'll go into yard as far as we can, then return to pick up stragglers. If you want to photograph the charter when it arrives at Conservatory, you'll ride the regular Green line train ahead of us and we'll pick you up at Conservatory. We'll go east over Lake ST to Paulina JCT where Pink line joins, but we'll stop, reverse direction, cross to the southbound track and go back through Paulina JCT as a Pink line train. At Harrison JCT we stop, change ends, cross over and go Northbound down the old incline to the BLue line in the Eisenhower Expressway. At Racine you can get off to catch the next NB Blue line train to ride to Halsted UIC to shoot pictures of the charter arriving. The charter train will duck into the Morgan Middle track to let the following Blue line train with photographers leap frog ahead.

That's just the first hour you see....The rest of the schedule is not detailed here, but.....After pickup at Halsted/UIC the rest of the day includes; to Jeff Park, restroom break, go to end of Green line at Cottage Grove, go to Loop for lunch, pick ups, go to Howard, take half group to Dempster/Yellow while other half does washroom break, repeat, go to Linden Purple, return to Harlem/Lake.

David Harrison
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Glad the details have given you a preview.

During the am, you wll get a list of various eating places in the Loop near Wabash and near Lake ST. You may get off at any of four stations....Roosevelt (Green Orange), Adams/Wabash, Randolph/Wabash, Clark/Lake. After an hour, the charter will return and pick our participants up, in that same order, on the outer Loop platform. Your charter ticket will admit you back onto the CTA. Then its off to the north side.

David Harrison
  by byte
 
As info:

The Snowflake Special has sold 1/3rd of all available tickets, which are currently selling at an accelerated rate compared to last year (which sold out a week before the trip date). If you'd like to go on this charter, your best bet is to buy your tickets sooner rather than later.
  by byte
 
Update: this trip is now over half sold. At the rate tickets are going, looks like we will have another sold out trip.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
byte wrote:Update: this trip is now over half sold. At the rate tickets are going, looks like we will have another sold out trip.
That's right Byte....Ticket sales are still outpacing last year's sellout IRM Snowflake Charter, but the half of the train sellout was reached last weekend so our pacing is definitely ahead of last year.

Charters in years gone by were billed as "inspections" and this year's event continues that feature, going into at least four CTA "L" yards. Included is another trip into the lower yard at 63rd and Calumet on the Green line. Hey, maybe we'll see the restored railroad connection to the yard.

One of the interesting "behind the scenes" is figuring out how to take a six car charter train to Dempster/Skokie. On a past charter, I believe sponsored by CERA, the "inspection" train featured a work flat inbetween two Skokie/Yellow line pantograph cars. The train had to come to a complete stop to change-over from third rail to catenary and vice-versa since the pantographs were not train-lined and not controlled from the front cab. That trip also allowed participants out onto the flat car for a photo session and a photo runby from the ground in catenary territory. This is impossible today as that stretch of track is now third rail powered and there is no way the CTA would allow non personnel on the ground.

Well, back to getting our charter into Dempster/Skokie....Have you figured out yet how we're gonna do it?.....Charter will be split into two groups, one for a washroom break/photo session at Howard, the other rides a four car section to Dempster. We're dropping two cars at Howard to be stashed in the yard. A five car train would fit the turnaround, but not six. Swap groups, do a second trip back to Dempster and then put the train back together afterwards. Oh yes, a slow, slow rollby at Oakton for pics.

David Harrison
  by Tadman
 
David, two questions:

1. Do I understand you correctly that Lower 63rd now has an active railroad connection to the outside world?

2. Regarding the Skokie tail track only fitting five cars, do you suppose it's that way so they can fit workmotor-flatcar-workmotor on it? That's the only five-car train that I can think of.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Tadman wrote:David, two questions:

1. Do I understand you correctly that Lower 63rd now has an active railroad connection to the outside world?
I believe the track is ONLY for bringing in materials, supplies, etc. They are unloaded and taken to the appropriate storage area. There never is any intention to receive delivery of rail cars. We shall see Sunday Mar. 25. All of the Bombardier movements to and from New York, have been on low-boy truck trailers.
2. Regarding the Skokie tail track only fitting five cars, do you suppose it's that way so they can fit workmotor-flatcar-workmotor on it? That's the only five-car train that I can think of.
Allowance for a flat car does make sense. Or it could have been just to give a little wiggle room for a live pair of cars and an out-of-service pair. When the flat car charter went to Dempster, we did make two stops, one for the doors to open on the front two cars and a second to open the doors on the rear pair. So the doors weren't train-lined. But on the Holiday Train, the doors are train-lined and all doors open on both sides of the Santa car.

David Harrison
  by Tadman
 
Interesting, thanks! Don't mean to hijack your thread, I'm not sure if I'm in town on that day yet but the 2010 Charter was great.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Latest sales figures posted this past weekend shows the 2012 IRM Snowflake Charter to be just short of 2/3 sold out and this is three weeks before the event. There are now less than 90 tickets remaining. Official train capacity is 264. The charter has been mentioned in the popular blog CTA Tattler and last year's blog entry is credited in part to a final sales surge, so an identical surge is expected this year.

David Harrison