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 C&NWfan
 
I'm from Chicago and have always had a fascination with commuter rail and its history in the Chicago area, especially with the C&NW (now UP). My question concerns old stations and their layout along the C&NW NW branch. I frequent this line, and until recently, didn't know of other intermediate stops besides Clybourn, Irving Park, Jeff. Park, Gladstone Park, etc. within the City of Chicago. So I'd like to know if these other stations along the line that were phased out around 1958 with the construction and opening of the Kennedy Expy. were local stops (like Irving Park with only side platforms and no access to today's current middle express track), or more like the rest of the stations on the line, or if local and express commuter operations were completely different during that time.

Also, at one time the C&NW also ran special trains to the Arlington Park Race Track and from some of the information I've gathered, these trains weren't listed in the official schedules of the time. Is there any information on when these trains ran?

Also, in general, if anyone could provide me with any other information regarding commuter rail lines that existed prior to the formation of the RTA and Metra, that would be helpful.

Any information on any of this (links, photos, etc.) is extremely helpful! Thank You!
  by ExCon90
 
If you can get hold of a book called North Western, by H. Roger Grant, there's an interesting account of how Ben Heineman made a deal with the regulatory authorities around the 1950's that he would provide new, air-conditioned coaches and diesel locomotives (which he did) if they would let him get rid of a whole raft of inner-city stations, each within a mile or so of the next (which they did).
  by C&NWfan
 
Thanks for the help! That website has been extremely resourceful for me the past few years.
  by SlowFreight
 
I don't think I still have any of the original source documents, but years ago I did a term paper where I found original studies at the Chicago Public Library that discussed building CTA's Jefferson Park extension, which opened in 1970. This ultimately involved building a short subway with stops at Belmont and Logan Square, plus Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, and Jeff Park in the median. The study explored other alternatives ranging from no build to running along the C&NW right of way. What was relevant to your interest was that the study included ridership projections for each option and assumed that specific C&NW stations would be closed and be replaced with CTA stations on the new extension--and the corresponding gain/loss in ridership for each line. Sorry I don't still have a copy of the report, but it indicates that the 1958 opening of 90/94 wasn't the immediate cause of closure for some of those stops.

Since track alignment didn't change at Mayfair when the station there was removed, I think it's a safe assumption until someone can find real data that these stations were configured like Irving Park...even though Gladstone Park has a center platform IIRC.

On a related note, when CTA extended the line from Jefferson Park to O'Hare in 1984, RTA discontinued the 3 or 4 trains that operated Des Plaines-Chicago only, vacated the Des Plaines coach yard, and instituted 1 or 2 Barrington-Chicago trains to replace the discontinued Des Plaines service. Even though the lines aren't close to each other, I guess the prevailing thought was that the O'Hare extension was parallel enough to be a substitute service.
  by dinwitty
 
I'm not sure Arlington runs would be on a regular schedule, like the South Shore Notre Dame football trips, more like specials.
  by busfan2847
 
C&NW did operate a regular train service to Arlington Park when racing was taking place.

A copy of the 1968 timetable can be found at:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidwilso ... 136277608/

Monday to Friday they ran two race specials calling only at Jefferson Park, Saturdays they ran three and holidays four.

I also found a photo with the remnants of Mayfair station visible. It appears it did have an island platform servicing tracks one and two and another platform for track three.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwdavidson/4285292347/
  by SlowFreight
 
Race track specials continued until the early 90s when Arlington Park closed, and didn't resume when it reopened. At the end, there would be one scheduled round trip from Chicago to Arlington Park, and it would lay over on the center track since it couldn't be used between Deval And Barrington outside of the hours when the Barrington station was manned. The cab car would have a blue sign hanging in the end door reading "Pony Express."
  by C&NWfan
 
The opening of the Kennedy Expy. was just a theory of mine because it was built adjacent to 90% of the C&NW right of way through the city. The extension of the 'L is most likely the ultimate reason for closing those stations, but the concept of running the 'L on the right of way of the C&NW is new to me. Hopefully some futher information on this and the track alignment can be found. And thank you for the information about the Arlington Specials. And I frequently use that website! Its great!
  by SlowFreight
 
C&NWfan wrote:The opening of the Kennedy Expy. was just a theory of mine because it was built adjacent to 90% of the C&NW right of way through the city. The extension of the 'L is most likely the ultimate reason for closing those stations, but the concept of running the 'L on the right of way of the C&NW is new to me. Hopefully some futher information on this and the track alignment can be found. And thank you for the information about the Arlington Specials. And I frequently use that website! Its great!
Extending the L wasn't the "likely" reason, it was *the* reason. If you're looking for more detail, the analysis of alternatives is available through the Chicago Public Library. Unfortunately, I don't believe that I still have my copy of the analysis.
  by busfan2847
 
It was not the reason. Competition from the private car and expressways was the main concern.

The close in suburban stations were closed on ALL three C&NW lines on 12/1/1958 and service abandoned on the Webber sub - 23 stations closed.

During the 1950s white flight from Chicago had doubled the population of many of the suburbs that C&NW served and as the chairman of the board said, after the station closure, the C&NW could now concentrate on providing a "true" suburban service and "We don't want to run a street car type operation".

The principal concern of the C&NW was the private car and expansion of expressways. There was unanimous opinion on the C&NW that a completely modernized suburban service could effectively compete with the expressways. Especially with most of the local Chicago stops closed reducing travel times.

Remember from 1955-1970 C&NW went from conventional steam hauled single deck trains using hand-me down cars to modern diesel powered push pull bi-level trains

1955 First double deck cars arrive
5/11/1956 D-day - diesels replaced steam on all commuter trains
12/1/1958 - Following stations closed
C&NW N - Deering, Gross Park, Cuyler, Summerdale, Rose Hill, Kenmore, Calvary, Evanston Dempster St.
C&NW NW - Maplewood, Roscoe, Parkview, Kostner and Mayfair
C&NW W - Central, Austin, Ridgeland and Oak Park
C&NW Webber sub - Peterson, Devon, Greenwood, Evanston Emerson St, Sauganash, Skokie Oakton St
1959 First Cab control cars arrive
1/11/1960 - CN&W announces it will replace all its historic car fleet with 160 bi-levels - completed by 1970
  by Pacific 2-3-1
 
Well, even though the CTA Brown Line runs nearby, "Ravenswood" in Chicago is currently the busiest station on the North Line!

In fact it was the CTA who closed the adjacent elevated station (at Wilson) which was also called "Ravenswood".
  by Tadman
 
It's an interesting trend to note that almost all (except IC) closed their inner stations in the 1960's. I can never understand why IC continued to serve all those darn station, especially after the Dan Ryan L opened and halved the IC's passenger counts between downtown and 95th. At this point, there is service over three lines to one area - Green line, Red line, and Metra Electric.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote:I can never understand why IC continued to serve all those darn station, especially after the Dan Ryan L opened and halved the IC's passenger counts between downtown and 95th.
Half of the passenger counts was still enough. The line is owned and the stations are there. They probably could close a couple stations but the lakefront section of the line provides better service than the green and red lines. If the IC ran to Union Station instead of the east loop or shared track with a heavy freight load there might have been more cutbacks (more than just losing the specials tracks). But the IC is probably the best designed route into the city and I'm glad to see it maintained.