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 Tadman
Little known trivia fact I've recently learned: Because the CSS and C&IM were both Insull properties in the 1920's, they had identical passenger cars (trailers, at least). That's right, the unmodified CSS trailers, painted green, would look just like the C&IM passenger cars.

Only example I could find:
  by Tadman
Nope, those are all six-wheel trucks and clerestory roof cars. The ones I'm talking about look exactly like a pre-rebuild CSS orange MU, but in green and sans-pans.

Like the lead car but in green:
  by F40CFan
I don't for sure, but based on the fact that the trailers were built with cabs, I would think that it was not a rare occurrence.
  by Tadman
The 1926 Pullman-built 200-series trailers were used to lead quite often, they all had cabs. The modern 200-series trailers do not have cabs and cannot lead, although they have marker lights and can theoretically trail but do not in practice. I know of one time when a disabled train was split in half and pulled back to shops with a 200-series trailer bringing up the markers.

The Illinois Central ran married pairs of motor/trailers, so all northbound trains had trailers leading. This was only the 1926 cars, the HIghliners are all motors.
  by justalurker66
JLJ061 wrote:I heard trailers only led occasionally during the 1930's, and the practice was discontinued afterward, for reasons I do not know.
On steam trains I'd certainly be more comfortable with the locomotive being out front to hit stuff than a passenger car. On the electric trains I don't believe it would make much difference.

On the modern cars the lack of a cab would be a problem. There is a white light on the ends of the trailers and non-cab ends of the single cab cars (100 & 300's). I assume that is to help with yard movements.
  by dinwitty
I can only think of the cars add/subbing at MC, you can't run a trailer east alone, and often they would run 1 car east. They usually connect/disconnect the rear cars.
  by justalurker66
dinwitty wrote:I can only think of the cars add/subbing at MC, you can't run a trailer east alone, and often they would run 1 car east. They usually connect/disconnect the rear cars.
One car doesn't work too well when the brakes go out ... or when one has other problems either. Dropping a leading trailer would be more of a shuffle at MC.

Today's NICTD runs cars empty from Gary to Michigan City and to South Bend to avoid the time it takes to drop and add cars. It has come in handy when a car has failed en route east of Michigan City. It makes it more likely that one car is working well enough to get the others out of the way without sending more cars or the Grey Ghost out for a run.
  by lstone19
It's always interesting how what's the normal custom one place is considered unusual somewhere else. I grew up along the DL&W electricfied lines. Almost all the old M.U. equipment was in semi-permanently coupled motor-trailer pairs with the motor east so westbounds were normally led by trailers (I've heard, but never saw, that were a very few number of singles (maybe just one)). Each car in a pair had a cab at one end and was blind at the other end.
If I have my history correct, the trailers were originally built in the 19-teens for steam hauled trains and were converted, including adding the cabs, when the electrification went in about 20 years later.