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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by Tadman
A few weeks back I rode Amtrak #4 past the old Aurora station, slightly west of downtown.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=aurora+t ... 19&iwloc=A

Did Metra or CB&Q ever use this station for commuter trains? And was the overnight yard always back at the roundhouse? Finally, it seems there's been some environmental remediation in the empty lands around the station and tracks - was this originally railroad property, and what was there?

Thanks guys, I've become quite curious about that area lately.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
I think the current Aurora Metra station opened up around the time that the roundhouse was redeveloped. The stub tracks lower than the mainline grade will complicate prospective salvation of distant settlers with public commuter rail services westward.

The old station was definitely used by BN commuter and Amtrak trains before Metra used the new spot and Amtrak shifted over to Naperville. I kind of like the post war concrete dankness in the platform area of the old station when it turns up in pictures. I wish there was more pictures of the old site aside from trains to get an idea of its layout, interior feel, and its appearance in service. Everything except the building was demolished including the platforms and subways and possible outbuildings.

The land near the river was probably rail served manufacturing industry. There looks like some rails in pavement in the aerial images.
  by Tadman
Great find - after googling "Steere Baje" I found the following:

1. This building was most recently a machinery dealer named Baje-Steere
2. Baje-Steere essentially had the property confiscated by the city of Aurora under eminent domain for a failed "river city" development.
3. The building was originally a foundry, where molten steel was poured into molds to make cast steel products. This is likely the biggest source of pollution and cleanup, as foundries are quite dirty places. I've spent a lot of time in them, and by today's EPA-approved standards, they're dirty. I can only imagine how dirty they were pre-1970.
  by F40CFan
I remember passing it a few times on the California Zephyr (the original) and the San Fransisco Zephyr. It was indeed the only Aurora stop for the CB&Q and later Metra and Amtrak.
  by Engineer Spike
To get the big picture, you have to look at how things have changed all around with the entire suburban operations. I have heard that some of the locomotive servicing was done in Aurora overnight. Most of the coaches were stored in the coach yard nest to the depot. I have heard that there was a ramp from the Hill Yard up to the elevated mains. I have heard that some coaches were kept in the Hill Yard.

The new shops in Chicago are pretty extensive. Most all work is done there. When a train lays over in the middle of the day, the power is head pinned and goes for fueling and servicing (water, lube oil, sand, brake shoes). There are a couple of spare engines in case one needs more major repair. One job is a double header so that there is a spare in Aurora in case one develops a problem on that end. There is a switch engine in Chicago. It will remove a defective car, and replace it.

I think that they would have to put a station on the mains, with an elevator/escalator down to the new facility, if suburban trains ever run out the main line to Plano or Sandwich (or some day to Mendota). I doubt they will go out the C&I, since it get up close to the C&NW.

My point was that the new shop in Chicago eliminated the need for shops in Aurora. The parking was limited at the old depot. The new set up is pretty efficient in all aspects except for future service west. If it does happen, track 3 will have to be relaid between W. Eola and Aurora. The one way access to the Hill Yard will also be an impedance.
  by Zanperk
Aesthetically it's a lump - the ATC/Roundhouse complex looks nice, if not quite monumental enough for the state's second city.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
There is already a Metra station style parking lot next to the Mendota line off of Orchard Road west of Aurora. It reminds me of the Big Timber parking lot in Elgin. The Orchard Road parking lot must be used for Pace buses right now.

If they ever run trains further west than Aurora, the easiest thing to do would be to have those trains skip Aurora as a stop. That leaves trains deadheading to and from Hill Yard.

The elevation difference between the Aurora station tracks and the mainline grade is not that much, stairs and a ramp could reach a platform up there like one or two other new Metra stations have. I can't remember where those are.

The real best case expensive solution that planners dream about would be to rip out the historic Hill Yard and Aurora station tracks, and build a new yard somewhere out west like they did with Elburn. Hill Yard becomes available for "smart sustainable intermodal TIF utopia" or more appropriately commercial development. Then some minor realignment of the mainline with platforms, and expanded parking where the current station tracks are. Maybe even a new station building closer to the mainline, that would let the roundhouse go completely to commercial.