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 Buffalobill
1.Monon ran a service in Indy that might have quilified as commuter service and perhaps the I&O or it spredisesor ran a service to Cincy. Its clear that this Highway and Concrete loving state needs a good dose of railroad medicine. I would take over the Monon Bike Path and the PRR bike path and convert it to DMU commuter rail. Its not fair that only NW IN gets commuter rail while commuter rail is not even on the drawing board in Indy and Metro Cincy.
  by justalurker66
Valparaiso served via the old PRR from Gary and Lowell served via the old Monon line through Munster are targets in NW Indiana. Valpo has the benefit of an actual commuter service up until 1991. Lowell probably has more support.

Commuter rail works well in this area because the idea never died. Chicago's CTA trains circulate people and serve the city. Metra takes care of Illinois. The NICTD line fits in nicely and the proposals would expand a working system. Indy is a mess with no rail except the hospital train - no circulator. Corridors would have to be found. Design a system of "from to" ... who are you serving? Noblesville? Cincy has been trying to get it's act together since they closed the Erie Canal. I can see commuter connections built when the Midwest High Speed rail is built (for both Indy and Cincy) but not until then. Money is tight.
  by dinwitty
Its ironic Indianapolis was the interurban mecca. Complete with central terminal serving many lines.

That terminal bridgework roof was donated to Noblesville I think, they eventually scrapped it....sigh...
  by eddiebehr
New York Central ran a Chicago Suburban operation out of LaSalle Street to Gary and Chesterton. There were also intermediate runs between Whiting and Chesterton. There were dedicated local trains and some of the secondary mainline trains made some of the local stops, too. By the date of my Western Division employee timetable, #55, June 7, 1942, service consisted of about 5 dedicated eastbound suburbans and 7 westbounds. They operated both at what would be normal rush hour times and other times that would reflect shift changes at the steel and other miles in the Gary-Indiana Harbor-Whiting area. Like getting underway around 11 pm or thereabouts. Some of the schedules operated 7 days a week. NYC issued pocket timetables for Chicago Suburban Service. The service dwindled down to a couple of trains between Chicago and Elkhart or Toledo by the late 1950s when it ended. NYC's lightweight XPLORER finished out its short life handling one of those runs.
  by erie910
This is a long time in coming.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (formed by the cities of Fishers and Noblesville, and Hamilton County) was formed to buy the Nickel Plate line from its southern terminus (10th St.) to Tipton for possible use as a commuter heavy or light rail corridor. The Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville used much of the track for tourist rail operations, including a commuter-like operation to the Indiana State Fair. Within the last two years, a furor arose concerning the Museum's track maintenance and crew training, and the Port Authority locked ITM out from access to the track. Subsequently, the cities of Fishers and Noblesville have proposed tearing out the track between the two cities and converting it to a biking/walking trail, without any further discussion of using the ROW for commuter rail.

The Nickel Plate right-of-way was not ideally suited to commuter rail because it was a single-track line. Additional property would have had to be purchased (most likely by condemnation) for a second track, or else there would have had to be huge storage yards at each end and twice as much equipment purchased as would be needed if empty equipment could deadhead back on a second track for use again in the same daily commuter rush. Running time between the Fairgrounds and Fishers was 24 minutes, with a maximum authorized speed of 30, a few speed restrictions for track condition, crossing signal timing, and roadway traffic.

Another issue is that work locations are spread out in Indianapolis; while there are many who would go downtown, the north/northeast side just outside the I-465 belt has many large employers, and there are also many employers on the west side, north of the airport. There does not seem to be the same concentration of employers in downtown Indianapolis as there are in Chicago and some other major U.S. cities to make a commuter line with a downtown-only destination all that desirable.
  by Tadman
Good luck with Fishers and Noblesville. The minivan and car-based SUV poster child suburbs of america now have mayors that will do anything, by hook or crook, to turn that into a bike trail. It's been a nasty fight so far and I cannot see any chance of commuter rail ever opening there, much as it would fit nicely. They're throwing every old pearl of wisdom about trains at the voters - it's dangerous, it's expensive, it brings unwanted persons to the community, it's dirty... They never seem to get to the idea that a commuter train generally does wonders for property values.

Another problem Indy has is suburbanitis. Many, if not more than half, of jobs are outside I-465 beltway, making centralized commuter rail as we know it (IE Metro North or Metra hub-spoke style) an impossibility.
  by CarterB
mtuandrew wrote:Seems that a long-commuter route between Indy and Bloomington would be popular.
Always wished the old IC line was used for Indy-IU Bloomington service, even back in the 1960s when I attended IUB. Where the IC line ran would have been perfect for a campus station stop (Fee Lane or North Jordan)
  by Tadman
Highway 37 is no picnic at rush hour, either. I always though the Bloomington run would be a great extension for the Indy Amtrak train. But I'm also not sure there is an easy way to get there from here anymore. A train that runs through Union Station cannot run directly south to the INRD, which is torn up from Senate Avenue to donwtown.
  by erie910
It was interesting and amusing that the city of Noblesville wanted to pass an ordinance which prohibited passenger train traffic through downtown Noblesville between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Indiana Transportation Museum ran a train every other week to Atlanta for dinner, and had to go south through downtown Noblesville at about 5:30 p.m. to pick up passengers in Fishers. There was about ½ mile of street running through Noblesville, including through a northbound left-turn lane onto a state highway. It really was fun to watch the cars scatter to get out of the way of the train. However, this proposed ordinance did not address freight traffic. At the time of its proposal, Indiana Rail Road brought 50-car hopper cuts to and from a power plant north of Noblesville. Head-end track speed in the street was 6 m.p.h. Once a passenger engine exited the street, it could accelerate to 15 m.p.h. Maximum authorized speed for freights was 10 mph. So, a 6-car passenger train every other week was an issue, but a 50-car hopper train, plus 2 or 3 engines, was not?

Someone finally convinced the Noblesville City Council that the railroad, at that time connected to the general railway system, was governed by federal law and regulation, and municipal ordinance would be unenforceable.