• Amtrak and Indianapolis

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by neroden
Station Aficionado wrote:Mr. Norman, thank you for the kind words. It's been interesting and gratifying to read the thoughtful responses to my original post.

I had not thought about the possible impact of the Olympics. If Chicago is awarded the games, you're quite correct that spectators (and perhaps athletes in training) may well have to stay far away. That could provide some impetus for (re)building a better route to Indianapolis.
Unfortunately, given Indiana' -- and particularly Indianapolis's -- backwardness on all things rail, it seems more likely that the routes to Milwuakee, St. Louis, Champaign, Detroit, and indeed Toledo will get upgraded first. Fort Wayne might get service before the route to Indianapolis is upgraded, since it's on the preferred fast route to Toledo.

The Grand Crossing connection could eliminate some of the Cardinal's problems in the Chicagoland area, however, as a side effect; or the NICTD expansion to Munster could. Both together certainly could.
  by justalurker66
electricron wrote:Never been a Federal issue? Federal role in regulating abandonments?
The FRA keeps their fingers in abandonments. ROWs can be abandoned and sold or "rail banked" (which can include trail programs). If the FRA sees a reason to keep a line open they will. If there is no compelling reason then say goodbye.
Who does the abandoned right-of-way revert to if the original property owner was the US government? If Indiana refuses to save a corridor from Chicago that could be used to connect Cincinnati to points south and east, don't you think the Feds have a right to step in and save that corridor?
The feds rights end when the FRA decides that the ROW can be abandoned. Who owns the land can vary. If it is a ROW over land owned by another the ownership would revert, otherwise the railroad owns the land and they can sell it. In Indiana alignments have been sold for "rails to trails" projects or the neighboring property owners get a chance to buy the property back. You really need to look at the lines on a case by case and property by property basis. Don't forget that there were land GRANTS back in the day where ownership transferred to the railroad. It is often their property to sell (once the FRA says that they can abandon all hope of service).

If the feds want a corridor saved THEY need to save it. If Indiana wants it saved Indiana needs to save it. Don't expect one to do the work of the other.
  by Gilbert B Norman
While unrelated to passenger transportation, here is some material I submitted elsewhere at the site related to the rail banking concept:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 175&t=9541
  by Jeff Smith
<cough>bump</cough>: IndyStar.com
Indiana gets money to study improving train service from Indy to Chicago

Indiana will receive a major grant from the federal government to look into expanding passenger rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago.

The Indiana Department of Transportation will get up to $500,000 to develop a plan to improve service on the existing Amtrak line that currently runs trains three times a week between the two cities, the Federal Rail Administration announced Friday.
  by ryanwc
This is a relevant line from the Trains article on Chicago Hub improvements:
>Additionally, the Cardinal could potentially ditch its circuitously problematic Chicago exit and entrance by utilizing a future CSX connection at Dyer, Ind., with the South Shore’s West Lake Corridor Project now under construction

Someone commented here in the last week on the pointlessness of Indy service that continued to wind around on slow track. Would this Dyer connection resolve big parts of what you were pointing to?
  by ExCon90
How much is left of the Big Four route via Kankakee (always the best route afaik)? Has there been much encroachment?
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Ex-Con, I defer to others to what extent the CCC&StL that was chopped up Kankakee (it "tracked" over the IC into Chicago)-Indianapolis was protected in the same manner as was the CA&E ( Roarin' Elgin) when it met same fate during the 50's. Today, it is a well used nature trail.

Fair Use - Wiki (believe open source):
The loss of one-seat commuter service to the Loop devastated the interurban. The railroad's financial condition was already shaky, and schemes to restore downtown service faced various legal or operational obstacles. As early as 1952, the railroad had sought to substitute buses for trains, and after years of financial losses, in April 1957 the Illinois Commerce Commission authorized the railroad to discontinue passenger service. Passenger groups and affected municipalities sought injunctions that forced the railroad to temporarily continue service, but as soon as court rulings cleared the way, management abruptly ended passenger service, at noon on July 3, 1957. Commuters who had ridden the CA&E into the city found themselves stranded when they returned to take the train home. Freight operations continued for two more years until June 10, 1959. No trains ran after this point, but the right-of-way and rolling stock were preserved in the event that a party stepped forward to purchase the property. The official abandonment of CA&E came at 5:00pm on July 6, 1961, four years after the final passenger trains had run. The real estate became part of the Aurora Corporation of Illinois, a small conglomerate, which slowly sold off the right-of-way and other properties. Portions of the right-of-way are now operated as a multi-use trail called the Illinois Prairie Path.
  by ryanwc
Lest anyone be confused, Mr. Norman's reflection that today it's a nature trail (actually a bike trail, which is quite different) concerns a different line west of Chicago and has nothing to do with the route from Kankakee to Indianapolis.

Google Maps uses track symbol at least from Kankakee to West Lafayette, and the terrain view shows that there's still a track on the bridge over the Wabash. I didn't look at terrain view anywhere else to confirm actual track, nor continue south of Purdue (whose reign at #1 was recently ended by my hometown Wildcats!)

And I have no idea the quality of said trackage. But it certainly looks like most of the right of way has been preserved. The IN rail map also shows extant track from the border to West Lafayette.

Nonetheless, I think the intent is to use the new South Shore West Lake track through Dyer and jump to CSX to W. Lafayette. The West Lake project is on track for completion in 17 months. The southern end of this project runs in the CSX right of way, so construction of a connection isn't a major expense.

The Cardinal currently runs on 5 railroads from NY to Munster, IN, and then another 5 for the 28 miles into Chicago, including CN, UP and NS, so 4 of the 6 class I's in the course of about 15 miles (plus the Belt Railway jointly owned by all 6).

I can certainly see the attraction of the CHIP vision - a handoff to South Shore and then an Amtrak-dispatched route on the Lakefront and Airline.
Last edited by ryanwc on Sun Dec 10, 2023 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Gilbert B Norman
ryanwc wrote: Sun Dec 10, 2023 7:58 am Lest anyone be confused, Mr. Norman's reflection that today it's a nature trail (actually a bike trail, which is quite different) concerns a different line west of Chicago and has nothing to do with the route from Kankakee to Indianapolis.
I agree Mr. Ryan, that there could have been confusion I was stating that the "Big Four" had become a nature trail Kankakee-Indy and interesting to learn that there is still trackage in place over segments within Indiana. Further, I need to stand corrected on any thoughts I had that the CCC&StL had been chopped up. Here is from the last time the Googlemobile went through Fowler, IN (note the car spotted under the elevator).

However, I think we both agree that trackage looks at best FRA Class 2.

Finally and off topic, nature trail and bicycle trail is all the same to me. Although the last time I was on a trike was in Champaign (that means '70 or earlier) I have walked the CA&E Elmhurst to Wheaton. However @ 82yo, I still walk 2.5 miles (6000 steps) regularly nowadays and often get to observe traffic over the Chicago Sub in the process.
  by John_Perkowski
I took a look at the Kankakee to Chicago route recently. If Kankakee to Indianapolis is anything like Kankakee to Chicago, we are talking 100s of millions of dollars to bring it to Class 4 trackage, let alone Class 5.

Is that really worth it for “One-A-Day” vitamin service?
  by ryanwc
>for "One-a-Day"

Of course not. INDOT got the grant to study "service between Indianapolis, IN, and Chicago, IL, by adding new frequencies and
improving travel times."

But also, we were only talking about a Kankakee routing to see what was there because someone suggested it. The preferred plan is via Dyer and CSX.

That's cool that you're still walking distances, Mr. Norman.
  by John_Perkowski
Google mapping the route, the trackage looks like it belongs to a short line. At several points, deliveries for line side industries are spotted on the through line.

I think Amtrak may have one hellacious contract negotiation, both building and operation.
  by Station Aficionado
Fourteen plus years since this thread began and not much has changed. The ex Big 4 line from Kankakee to Lafayette belongs to shortline Kankakee, Beaverville and Southern and has since 1977. (The ex Big 4 station in Lafayette was jacked up and moved some years ago to the new CSX/NS alignment along the river and now serves as the Amtrak station). The Big 4 line continues a short distance southeast from downtown Lafayette on what was once joint NYC/NKP trackage (the NKP (now NS) line continues east to Frankfort and beyond). From the point where the NKP breaks off, the ex Big 4 is gone (either entirely gone or turned into a trail) all the way to a point in northwest Indianapolis that SPV's atlas labels Rock Island (I don't think there's a town of that name). The line is in service from there to Indianapolis Union Station. Unfortunately, the missing parts of that line aren't coming back, nor are the other two pre-Amtrak direct lines to Chicago: PRR via Logansport and the Monon Line (which would've served the booming suburb of Carmel).

IIRC, NICTD is reanimating the former Monon line from Dyer to Hammond, where they would connect with the existing South Shore line. The Dyer station would be a bit north of Amtrak's Dyer stop. There seems to be an emerging consensus that Amtrak use the South Shore to Kensington as its route into Chicago from the east/southeast (at least on an interim basis). If that were to happen, it would likely improve the Cardinal's timekeeping . But the route (especially south of Lafayette) is not direct. I think CSX made some improvements a few years back because they were running more freight on the line, but I don't think Amtrak runs even 79 on much of the route.
  by ryanwc
[I'm editing my post down drastically and instead largely pointing people to the Station Aficionado post that started this thread 15 years ago.]

From there, what has changed is that Amtrak at some point did win 15 minutes back in the Chgo-Dyer section. And the possibility of a "passenger speedway" out of Chicago offers the possibility of future gains at that end if CHIP is completed and South Shore plays along. My guess is you'd only gain a little on the timetable, but a lot of reliability.

But there are multiple problems on this route south of Dyer that you'd have to solve to make this service useful.
  by Tadman
John_Perkowski wrote: Sun Dec 10, 2023 8:45 am I took a look at the Kankakee to Chicago route recently. If Kankakee to Indianapolis is anything like Kankakee to Chicago, we are talking 100s of millions of dollars to bring it to Class 4 trackage, let alone Class 5.

Is that really worth it for “One-A-Day” vitamin service?
I believe NYC passenger trains ran north from Kankakee on the IC to Central station, it's the Kanakee-Indy part of the line that needs a lot of love. And why? You now have a route that misses the substantial I-65 corridor in favor of not much other than rustbelt Kankakee. And it would require Indiana to pony up for a lot of track work in Illinois.

I don't see this route being politically expedient.