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 MetraF40C607
Wouldn't surprise me if it did in about 10 years.

  by MetraBNSF
Extending the BNSF past Aurora would make for some interesting logistic issues. A third track would definitely have to be added as freight and Amtrak traffic is very heavy. Possible stations would be located in Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, and Plano. The BNSF also runs through Sugar Grove on the Aurora sub but the plan calls for the line to run on the Mendota sub toward plano.

  by doepack
Plano, along with Yorkville and Oswego all reside in Kendall county, which is currently not part of RTA's service area. Before any details of this proposed extension can be discussed, state lawmakers that represent Kendall county must first lobby Springfield for an amendment to RTA's current bylaws that will add Kendall as the seventh Chicago area county to be served by Metra and Pace...

  by Joe
And they'd basically have to add a new yard at the end of the line, too. They aren't going to go back 5 miles then reverse again into Hill Yard, that would be quite wasteful.
Also, any trains going the rest of the route wouldn't be able to stop at Aurora, unless of course they move the station back to its old location! :wink:

  by Engineer Spike
I think that they may be able to have an elevator at Aurora down to the Transportation Center. mMybe some Mainline trains would skip Aurora. I think that track 3 would have to be put back between Eola and Aurora. Montgomery crossovers are now only 10 mph (alteast when I worked there). Bristol crossovers only go one way. That may neet to become a universal plant.
  by Rockingham Racer
Came across an article that says studies are to resume for extending commuter rail to Sandwich on the BNSF Mendota Sub. I wonder if the railroad will want to continue the triple track out that far.

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  by Engineer Spike
I left BN in 2000. In 2009, I went out for a visit. I couldn't believe how much Plano and Sanwich had grown up. New subdivisions were where corn fields had been a few years before. This would compliment the extension on the C&NW to Elburn.

As to Rockingham's comment about track layout, this would need improvement. Track 3 would need to be replaced between Eola, and Aurora. If I recall correctly, the Montgomery crossovers were slow speed. It was signaled with a Restricting indication. The slow speed crossover was bad enough, but having to go restricted speed for the whole next block is no good.

How to handle the servicing of the trains is a problem too. A job would have to leave the Hill Yard, then change ends, and head west. The time of changing ends would tie things up good. How would Sandwich trains handle an Aurora stop? Could new platforms be made up on the main? They could put stairs, or an escalator from ATC?

Another point would be whether the trains would deadhead from the Hill Yard. I mentioned the problem with that. If some of the trains were held over in Sandwich, than a whole additional staff of coach cleaners would be needed. They had some mechanical staff in the Hill Yard. This was a good insurance policy, in case of emergency. A good example was one time when our cab car had a cab signal failure.
  by Rockingham Racer
There was also a proposal to extend down to Oswego at one point in time, leaving the BNSF at Montgomery. Either extension option provides logistical problems leaving Hill Yard. It might be possible to add a third track leaving the yard for run-around moves to go west, and build a connection to the Chicago Subdivision so deadheads can out to the destination and back home at night.

As for Aurora, the station tracks are pretty much right next to the mainline, with a road in between. It's quite possible to build a platform on the track 1 side of the main line I think. The East End dispatcher will love that!
  by Engineer Spike
A platform on the track 1 side would present a bottleneck for C&I bound movements. Maybe a pedestrian tunnel could be built under the mains. This way the passengers could load on track 2, or better yet track 3 really should be relaid, if this extension does go forward.

Maybe at some point the Hill Yard will be abandoned. I can see the sprawl reach Mendota before too long. Sandwich isn't really that far from there. On the same note, how about C&NW service to DeKalb, or even Rochelle? It is obvious that nobody ever thought that the suburbs would ever expand past the traditional boundary of Elgin, Aurora, and Joliet. The stub end design of ATC shows that lack of foresight.

This makes me retract my statement in the last post about 2 layover yards. It might be just too far to deadhead equipment that far. Another factor is how heavy the service will be. How early will the first dinky run, and how late will the last one be? This could limit the freight window. With that thought, could anymore trains be shifted to the Santa Fe?
  by Rockingham Racer
There's already an underground passageway in place that goes under the Chicago Sub. It's to get to the parking lot on the south side of the Chicago Sub ROW, which was three tracks at one point. Drop track 3 back in place, and you've got a lot more flexibility running Metra and freights through the area. Apparently, it was a three-track railroad all the way out to Montgomery.

A platform on each side of the railroad would make operations even smoother there at Aurora.
  by Engineer Spike
I never knew that three tracks went out the Mainline (Mendota Sub) to Montgomery. Maybe I didn't notice, but it didn't look like the roadbed was wide enough, unlike how places around Naperville where the 4th. track roadbed are noticeable. When was the third track in? Was it before the line was elevated? In this area, the Sheep Yard is on a lower level. This yard is in the crotch between the C&I, and Mainline, and is adjacent to the Mainline.

Like I said, the Montgomery crossover was 10mph, with a restricting signal. This would need upgrading, as would the need for universal crossovers here, and Bristol. Something would be needed in Sandwich too, since there are no crossovers until Somonauk.
  by Rockingham Racer
Take a look on Google Maps or such. You can clearly see that the ROW used to be 3 tracks thru downtown Aurora on the viaduct there. I do not know when the third track was lifted. It would be a cinch to add it back for commuter service. I haven't heard anything new on the extension proposal.

If the extensions suggested [Sandwich / DeKalb] go forward, the counties involved would have to join the RTA, I think. I don't believe they are currently part of it.
  by Engineer Spike
I followed your suggestion, and it does appear that there is a third track between Aurora Plant, and Montgomery. Some of this is the industrial leads, and remnants of the Sheep Yard.

If memory serves me well, track 3 between W. Eola, and Aurora was lifted about the time that the ATC replaced Aurora Depot.

As to say Kendall County joining RTA, certainly the community growth will push the hands of government. The residents of the area will certainly need something, since there are only so many parking spaces at Aurora, or Route 59. Perhaps a bus service could be a stopgap solution. The bus could connect with the train at ATC.
  by Rockingham Racer
Maybe someone out that way has found an update. The latest one I found is 2013.