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 lstone19
 
Metra is in the midst of a major rehab of A-5 (Pacific Jct. - the split between the Milwaukee North and West districts). Some new signals have appeared and it appears a lot of the switches and other special work is being replaced.
A new signal bridge is up but not in service on the MD-N just west of the MD-N/W split and east of the tower (in other words, in the middle of what has been a single interlocking). New switches and movable point crossing have been laid out along the tracks at the MD-N/W split and it looked like could be going in this week. But I have no idea what is planned beyond that.
Work done on the west leg (MD-W) suggest one or more new signal bridges out there and the track panels piled near there suggest those switches will be replaced as well.
Anyone know the extent of the plans? Searches have turned up nothing. I just hope that the switches on the west leg will be upgraded to be faster than the current 10mph. The 15mph for MD-W trains on the curve is bad enough but the 10mph on the crossovers just adds insult to injury when you're crossing over (my regular PM WB train has to do the 1/4 mile long 3 to 2 to 1 slog which is just painful).
  by wda4449
 
The A-5 Interlocker Renewal project is listed on the Metra Capital Projects website (http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/abou ... jects.html) under the Signal, Electrical and Communications section, project PE 2938. $3.4 million has been budgeted for 2014, reduced from the 2013 budget plan.
  by lstone19
 
wda4449 wrote:The A-5 Interlocker Renewal project is listed on the Metra Capital Projects website (http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/abou ... jects.html) under the Signal, Electrical and Communications section, project PE 2938. $3.4 million has been budgeted for 2014, reduced from the 2013 budget plan.
I've seen that but it does not provide details.
  by doepack
 
This looks like an "out with the old, in with the new" type of upgrade, don't think any actual capacity improvements are involved here...
  by wda4449
 
doepack wrote:This looks like an "out with the old, in with the new" type of upgrade, don't think any actual capacity improvements are involved here...
I tend to agree with you. Especially since the project funding was reduced from $6 million in the 2013 budget book to $3.4 million this year. If I could locate the detailed engineering on the Metra website I would be fascinated to see what they have planned. So far, I've not found anything.
  by EricL
 
wda4449 wrote:
doepack wrote:This looks like an "out with the old, in with the new" type of upgrade, don't think any actual capacity improvements are involved here...
I tend to agree with you. Especially since the project funding was reduced from $6 million in the 2013 budget book to $3.4 million this year. If I could locate the detailed engineering on the Metra website I would be fascinated to see what they have planned. So far, I've not found anything.
About the only concrete benefit I can see so far, is that C&M (North District) trains will supposedly be able to cross over at the new "A-6" plant (old west end of A-5), at 40mph. The current setup still limits all C&M-to-C&M crossover moves to restricted speed. I have no idea whether or not the west end crossovers on the Elgin side will be redone. It certainly appears that the easternmost crossovers (1-2-3 ewd, 3-2-1 wwd) will NOT be rebuilt at this point in time, as no preparatory work has been done in that area.

Recently, a new signal and switch panel has gone up at the northwest leg of the wye, and the #61 switch panel (where Elgin #1 crosses C&M #2) has been replaced with a new panel. Also, the new signal bridge dividing "A-5" and "A-6" on the C&M has been completed, but of course with the signal heads blacked out, as of yet. This new signal bridge is roughly located in front of the tower.

My information is that the new "A-6" (or whatever they're called) signals will be properly wired up and functional within the next week or so, but it will still be a bit more time yet before the tower operator gets remoted to 547 Jackson.
  by lstone19
 
Eric, thanks. That provides a bit more and explains why the A-5 (soon to be A-6 or whatever) exit signals on the C&M moved further west (and have been in service for a few months now - not that I ride the C&M but I can see them as we turn west on the MD-W).
Also done are new signals on the NE and NW connectors. On the NE connector, a new signa for moves from the connector on to the C&M WB is up but I can't tell if it's in service. On the NW connector, a new high signal replaced the dwarf governing moves from the connector to the C&M WB.
On the MD-W, as stated above, it's not clear if it's like-for-like or an upgrade but a bunch of switch panels are stacked along the NW connector which I assume are for the MD-W crossovers. At the west end, an area was graded for what I assume are new signals just west of Karlov Ave. (the current signal bridge is just east of Karlov Ave.). At the east end, a signal cabinet and generator has been put in on a pad just west of Springfield Ave. along with a single footer for a signal(?). Does not look like a full signal bridge there.
Even if they were just to swap the locations of the WB 2 to 1 and 2 to 3 crossovers would save 30 seconds. There's little passenger use of the 3 to 2 but a number of rush hour trains use the 2 to 1 (although all of them, if Metra thought about it, could go out 2 to Galewood and then cross to 1 on the 40mph crossovers there).
Meanwhile, on the east leg heading towards Western Ave., pads were built just geographic south of North Ave. quite a bit west of the current signal bridge (I strongly suspect the current location was based on a now long gone 4 to 3 crossover).
  by lstone19
 
The new signals on the MD-N in front of the A-5 tower went in service over the weekend.

But so far this week, it appears that with that cutover, the crossovers on the MD-W west end of A-5 have been out of service. We've been "detouring" around the crossovers. Yesterday, my morning train, 2220 crossed 2 to 3 at Cicero West (and strangely enough was put in front of 2218). This morning, 2220 did a 2 to 3 cross at Galewood.

Yesterday afternoon, 2235, which normally goes 3 to 2 to 1 at the west end of A-5, held 3 to Cicero West where we crossed to 1. That forced 2244 (we passed it on the A-5 curve), which normally holds west of A-5 for 2235 and then crosses 3 to 2, to presumably cross at Galewood despite having flag stops at Hansen Park and Grand/Cicero (must have done the old "position one car on a crosswalk" stop - Grand/Cicero has no need for a full crosswalk but does have an access point on Track 2).
  by doepack
 
lstone19 wrote:The new signals on the MD-N in front of the A-5 tower went in service over the weekend.

But so far this week, it appears that with that cutover, the crossovers on the MD-W west end of A-5 have been out of service. We've been "detouring" around the crossovers. Yesterday, my morning train, 2220 crossed 2 to 3 at Cicero West (and strangely enough was put in front of 2218). This morning, 2220 did a 2 to 3 cross at Galewood.
I keep forgetting: Galewood is a full fledged control point nowadays, right? No more 10mph crossovers?
lstone19 wrote:Yesterday afternoon, 2235, which normally goes 3 to 2 to 1 at the west end of A-5, held 3 to Cicero West where we crossed to 1. That forced 2244 (we passed it on the A-5 curve), which normally holds west of A-5 for 2235 and then crosses 3 to 2, to presumably cross at Galewood despite having flag stops at Hansen Park and Grand/Cicero (must have done the old "position one car on a crosswalk" stop - Grand/Cicero has no need for a full crosswalk but does have an access point on Track 2).
Hm. If 2244 picks up track 2 at Galewood, rather than meeting 2235 at A-5 as it did before the A-5 crossovers went OOS, that sounds like a minor improvement for 2244, since both trains can keep moving. Sounds good as long as 2244's on time, of course. And it helps that Hanson Park and Grand/Cicero aren't exactly high volume stations...
  by lstone19
 
doepack wrote:
I keep forgetting: Galewood is a full fledged control point nowadays, right? No more 10mph crossovers?
Yes, full control point with 40mph mainline crossovers.
doepack wrote: Hm. If 2244 picks up track 2 at Galewood, rather than meeting 2235 at A-5 as it did before the A-5 crossovers went OOS, that sounds like a minor improvement for 2244, since both trains can keep moving. Sounds good as long as 2244's on time, of course. And it helps that Hanson Park and Grand/Cicero aren't exactly high volume stations...
It's an improvement for both trains. Any time a train uses the 25mph crossovers at Cicero West or 40mph crossovers at Galewood, it's an improvement over the 10mph ones at A-5, particularly when going 3 to 1 since it's about a 1/4 mile between the 3 to 2 crossover and the 2 to 1 crossover (that's the main reason I'm hoping this A-5 work will relocate that 2 to 1 crossover to reduce the distance traveled at 10mph).

One of the ironies of how Metra operates the MD-W is that anytime we "detour" around what's normally a crossing move at A-5, it speeds up the trip. It just amazes me that Metra management hasn't figured that out.
  by twropr
 
Is A-5 still a manned tower? A-2?

Thanks!

Andy
  by lstone19
 
Another oddity of this project: a few weeks ago, what were dwarf signals controlling moves from the NE and NW connectors on to the C&M westbound towards Milwaukee were replaced with high signals (fixed red on top over a four-bulb bottom unit). Last week, they ripped up the Bloomingdale branch turning the NE and SE connectors into stubs that do not connect. So why was all that money spent on a high signal coming off the NE connector? I can't imagine any use for either of those tracks now.
  by lstone19
 
lstone19 wrote:Another oddity of this project: a few weeks ago, what were dwarf signals controlling moves from the NE and NW connectors on to the C&M westbound towards Milwaukee were replaced with high signals (fixed red on top over a four-bulb bottom unit). Last week, they ripped up the Bloomingdale branch turning the NE and SE connectors into stubs that do not connect. So why was all that money spent on a high signal coming off the NE connector? I can't imagine any use for either of those tracks now.
And now they're working on replacing the dwarf on the SE connector with a high signal. And like the NE connector, it's now just a stub that only half-a-dozen car lengths long. Unless there's some plan for them that's not obvious, I don't understand why they didn't remove the connectors completely. Right now, they're just two more switches and more interlocking complexity to be maintained for no benefit.
  by dinwitty
 
could be work in progress, more to come, but had to stub end them (protect them as they are live rails)