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
Today, there was a pedestrian incident on BNSF in which the first afternoon rush hour express train of the day struck and killed a pedestrian in Riverside. The accident forced Metra to implement its Union Station overcrowding prevention plan as the entire line was shut down for close to 3 hours. Once service was soon getting close to back up and running, of course, there were extensive delays and some cancellations. But what was really noteworthy was some of the track changes when trains were able to get into the station and board.

One HC train boarded from track 30.

One SWS train and one BNSF train were both assigned to track 16. SWS 829, scheduled to depart at 5:40 and BNSF 1275, scheduled to depart at 5:41pm. Needless to say, the latter was delayed.

The 5:00pm and 5:22pm Naperville express trains boarded from tracks 18 and 20. This must be a first. I don’t ever recall a Naperville express train that utilizes an 11 car set board on a track other than track 2. My reasoning for this is two 11 car sets were available and putting one on its normal track 2 would’ve backed up an already jam packed great hall even further. Once those two trains departed (presumably on a “load and go”), the 5:45 Naperville train boarded from track 2 as usual but the 5:49 Downers Grove express boarded from track 18.

It’s very rare for Amtrak to give up that many tracks to accommodate a major service disruption. For reference, during the afternoon rush, track assignments generally go as follows:

BNSF: 2-14
SWS: 10, 14-16
HC: 28 (generally, this is what I’ve seen, not sure if it’s actually consistent under normal conditions)
  by Backshophoss
Believe it or not,WBBM was reporting the crowded conditions at CUS and telling people to stay away from CUS.
  by Tadman
That's crazy. If a person get is hit by a car and killed on the Dan Ryan, do they shut down the entire highway for three hours. Heck no. They shut down 1-2 lanes until it can be straightened out. But then the government also paid for fencing around the highway as well, you don't see too many nitwits on foot on the highway.
  by justalurker66
The route is three "lanes" wide at Riverside. On which track was the incident? Did the body stay on one track?
For a fatal road accident I would expect a three lane highway to be shut down. The Dan Ryan highway you are referring to is larger.
(Perhaps close the express and local lanes and traffic would continue on the other 9+ lanes of traffic.)

It is a lot easier for traffic to get around a road closing. And a lot easier to stop before hitting or swerve and miss a nitwit.
I agree that it is frustrating to have an entire railroad shut down for a "small" incident.
  by MetraBNSF
BNSF train 1235 (2:30pm Downers Grove express) hit the pedestrian on main 1 (north track) just west of Longcommon Rd. There were photos of fire department personnel walking all 3 main tracks after the incident. The train was released around 6pm but main 1 was out of service for an extended period once trains began moving. Riverside is basically halfway between the Berwyn and Congress Park interlockings and the two open tracks basically handled all westbound movements for a bit through that area.
MetraBNSF - Just curious: Did this fatality occur at a legal crossing?

If not this should be titled as a trespasser incident. Was there any more information posted about
what had happened and did the locomotive have a camera that recorded this accident?
No one mentioned the train crew and how this fatality is affecting them...


During peak hour service disruptions such as this does Metra encourage riders to use alternate
routes (in this case the most logical would be the UP-West Line from OTC) or take paralleling
CTA lines (Blue Line west to Forest Park then connecting PACE buses comes to mind) to relieve
the pressure on the BNSF Aurora Line when necessary?

I do understand that this does little for riders that park vehicles at BNSF stations and would need
to get transportation between the routes but does provide an alternate route compared to having
to remain in Downtown Chicago until the service problems get resolved...

Are there taxi or other services at stations that would provide a reasonable cost ride (Ex: Wheaton
to Naperville) if there are not PACE bus lines connecting stations on both routes that are practical
to use?

The best feature of the Metra system is that all tickets are good on all Metra routes as compared
to the days when each railroad had their own ticketing (BN did not honor C&NW tickets?) in place.

In this case it pays to know and understand the alternate routes that can help when problems like
this develop...MACTRAXX
  by MetraBNSF
My understanding is the incident was a suicide. This is also the Riverside station.

People were encouraged to use alternate forms of transportation which included the UP West. From there, passengers could take a taxi, Uber/Lyft. Makes more sense to ride out on an alternate line and then get a ride from a corresponding station vs getting a cab or rideshare from downtown.
  by orangeline
MACTRAXX - about a dozen years ago I was on a morning BNSF express to CUS. My train made a scheduled stop at Congress Park and then proceeded onto the middle track for the run to the city. While we were at Congress Park another express passed us. Right around Harlem Avenue we came to a stop. After a few minutes there was an announcement that we would be detouring through Cicero yard. All passengers looked around wondering what was going on. We moved quite slowly and after Lavergne we entered the freight yard and snaked through until Cicero Ave where we could switch back onto the normal route. The reason became apparent. The express that passed us at Congress Park struck and killed a trespasser (likely a suicide). All tracks that Metra normally uses were closed. There was a large police and EMT presence. The train's engineer had left the cab and looked like he was throwing up. The conductor was with him, I assume to give moral support. The body was laying on the next track from the train. It was pretty gruesome. We were lucky in that ours was the next train and there was the yard we could go through. I'm sure trains behind us were very substantially delayed and I'm not sure how long it was before westbound traffic was permitted.

On 3/15 the Chicago Sun-Times posted a article about the 3/7 Riverside fatality:
https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/man-s ... de-threat/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The victim was a 49 year old male from Stickney. There was a suicide note found.

The subject of suicide is a sad and delicate subject that has been discussed over time in various
forums here at Railroad.net. What this example shows is that there is only so much that can be
done as long as rail routes are accessible to the public either legally at crossings or at stations
or illegally elsewhere when you have someone that is willing to commit the ultimate deed.

In the subject of alternate routes I want to mention that the LIRR has put out a brochure that
explains alternate subway and bus routes for each Branch in case of a service disruption. Links
to NYC Transit and Nassau and Suffolk County bus operators are listed along with tips such as
to carry a valid Metrocard and to learn more about transit alternatives in advance.

Could Metra (along with CTA and PACE) issue something similar to show riders what alternate
routes are available in the case of problems such as this one affecting BNSF service?

It could show more examples such as riding peak HC trains to Summit (for Berwyn, Riverside,
Brookfield riders) or taking the CTA Cermak (Pink) Branch to 54/Cermak and connecting with
PACE Bus there.

This brings to my mind a TV news report about a major highway closure that caused huge traffic
problems in which one of the people interviewed said "I do not know any other way" in response
about bring content to sit and wait instead of being willing to find an alternate way out or around.

Would you like to know what alternate routes are out there? In my case "YES I Do!!!"
I am not saying this being a geographical buff or for having a good sense of direction.
Knowing your alternates can help you no matter what mode of transport that you use...

  by Engineer Spike
Beside riding on UP-W, then a taxi, or even the Cermak CTA, there must be a bus route which runs along Ogden Ave., which parallels the Burlington the entire way.
  by doepack
Engineer Spike wrote:Beside riding on UP-W, then a taxi, or even the Cermak CTA, there must be a bus route which runs along Ogden Ave., which parallels the Burlington the entire way.
That's more the case in Cook county, where Pace route 302 can pick up some of the slack for some of the inner suburbs. However, continuous Pace service along Ogden effectively ends in LaGrange.

Further, if a disruption occurs on the Burlington that affects service during the late morning/early afternoon, UP/W provides the best alternate due to the somewhat better off peak service in that window. Otherwise, it is quite limited in the amount of BNSF refugees it can handle if disruptions occur as detailed by MetraBNSF's original post; mainly because UP/W's rush hour schedule is skeletal compared to BNSF. This, despite the fact that communities served by UP/W in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and Lombard aren't that far from Lisle, DG, and Naperville in the Burlington corridor.
MACTRAXX wrote:Could Metra (along with CTA and PACE) issue something similar to show riders what alternate
routes are available in the case of problems such as this one affecting BNSF service?
I'd like to see something like that, possibly as an adjunct to the Metra's current CUS overcrowding plan. Additional information regarding alternates that can make one avoid CUS altogether during service disruptions can't hurt...