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 MetraBNSF
https://metra.com/newsroom/temporary-ch ... art-nov-15

Wednesday, November 03, 2021
Starting Nov. 15, the number of weekday trains on the BNSF Line will be temporarily reduced to 86 from 94 and the timetables and stopping patterns of many other trains will be adjusted. There are no changes to weekend service.

Current ridership on the BNSF Line is averaging about 15,000 passenger trips each weekday, about 24 percent of pre-COVID ridership. Metra will continue to monitor ridership closely and will work with BNSF Railway to make adjustments where appropriate.

Makes sense if ridership is still not back up to levels pre-pandemic. Especially with the holidays approaching when ridership tends to be a little lower and freight traffic is elevated. Freight interference is a big contributor to delays on the BNSF. Freight trains are frequently idling on the center track between Downers Grove and Aurora and likely farther west because Cicero is clogged. There’s been instances where once an idling EB freight is cleared to depart, another freight comes right behind it and idles. This happens frequently by the small yard in Downers Grove. Freight interference is not just taking place near Cicero, it’s now taking place farther west. Add the long distance, Illinois Zephyr, and Carl Sandberg Amtrak runs and the chances for commuter/passenger train delays increases. It’s basically a two track railroad between Downers Grove and Aurora with all of the idling freights waiting for space to open at Cicero. Throw a Z train in the mix and those get priority no matter what. Especially now when supply chain is still severely strained and these days there’s no guarantee that overnight shipping will actually get delivered overnight.
  by Engineer Spike
I think that this is a perfect storm of events. First, there is the crisis of the backlog of eastbound freight. We all know of the delays of unloading ships from western ports.

The second item might have to do with PSR. With crew shortages, east bound trains might not be easily handed over to foreign line crews. During my tenure at BNSF the hump in Cicero was closed. Traffic previously classified in Cicero is now done in Northtown, Galesburg, and even KC. Now pre blocked trains travel onto the eastern connection lines with power running through. The only action in Cicero is a crew change.

PTC may also be an issue. It really doesn't account for trains staged on MT 2, but it does increase headways, and also slow down trains. I've had to adjust my braking points more conservatively in freight to conform with the system.

One other point which Ive just thought of has to do with the now double sized trains. It now takes twice as long for a movement to enter a yard, or slow down for a speed restriction including if the train crosses over. This result in the train needing more time in order not to impede a passenger movement. The acceleration curve is also diminished, as well as braking.

I know that the company has certain uses of its Chicago intermodal yards, such as domestic vs. international. My query is to whether the use could be modified based on which market is trending higher than another. If Cicero is plugged, then why can't the train run to Corwith, Willow Springs, or the new yard by Joliet? If this did happen one would have to see if a slot is available on the Barstow sub and Chillicothe Sub, for example.