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 Pensyfan19
Any thoughts on restoring the following:

• Milwaukee District North to Walworth, WI
• Milwaukee District North to Freeport, IL
• Union Pacific North to Milwaukee, WI
• Union Pacific Northwest to Williams Bay, WI
• Union Pacific West to Aurora, IL and Freeport, IL
• Chicago to Valparaiso, IN (via former GTW trackage)
• Rockford, IL to Kenosha, WI
• Belvidere, IL to Spring Valley, IL
  by eolesen
To what purpose?

If you're thinking commuter rail, most places beyond what's already serviced are outside the taxing district and unlikely to join it. There's no justification for corridor rail to those communities.

Milwaukee to Walworth, WI is live rail operated by WSOR.

MILW Elgin to Freeport is live rail.

UP from Kenosha to Milwaukee, WI is live rail. Amtrak already serves that population corridor from a few miles west of the UP lines (there are two... one has never seen passenger service).

UP McHenry to Williams Bay, WI is abandoned north of a freight customer in Ringwood. The ROW has been built over in multiple places north of the IL/WI state line and can't be easily restored. A lot of the people in that area who commute already drive to McHenry or Fox Lake so you're not adding seats as much as you are shifting existing traffic and adding a lot of cost...

UP from West Chicago to Freeport, IL is live rail as far as Rockford, and can't support more than 10mph west of the Chrysler plant in Belvidere. I don't think the ROW to Freeport was preserved as it was abandoned in the early 60's.

The old CNW KD line from Rockford, IL to Kenosha, WI was dropped well over 60 years ago, aside from a small fragment that survives as a short line from Chemung to Harvard. There's very little population in between aside from farming communities who have no desire to travel to either end of that line.

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  by Engineer Spike
Similar threads have popped up on the Metro North and MBTA forums. A while back there was a thread about extending BN's service to Sandwich. Another asked about extending UP West to De Kalb, so that NIU students could have better public transportation options.

One common point is about the taxation districts, and the benefits of additional counties and municipalities jointing. On the thread about running BN to Sandwich, I brought up how much more developed Plano and Sandwich are now, than when I lived in the area 20 years ago. It came down to the point about how many residents that far out actually commute to Chicago. The point was made that many either work locally, or in the western suburbs. The end point being the there may not be that large a customer base. Remote working due to the China Virus may have diminished the demand even more.

When I was working BN Suburban Services 20 years ago, the buzz was about inter suburb commutes. At the time, they were thinking about running passenger trains over the J, to connect at least Joliet, Aurora, and Elgin. I'm not aware about if, for example, earlier trains serve Berwyn, and run out to all the office parks in Naperville.

I wanted to make the point that I could see the benefit of expanding Burlington to Sandwich, or UP-W to De Kalb. Freeport is just so far away. I'm sure that 99% if its residents go to Rockford as the extent of their commute. Places that far away are more in the domain of intercity (Amtrak) runs, like the proposed Quad Cities route.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
Any service beyond the current RTA boundaries will likely need to be a state-supported Amtrak route, just given the reality that rural counties will not sign up voluntarily for a new sales tax. Thus, DeKalb is not likely to see passenger rail service, as the Rocket will be routed over the BNSF via Princeton as opposed to UP (which keeps it fully within IL rather than crossing the river into IA).

Could IL subsidize a route that runs through DeKalb as far as Dixon or even over the river into Clinton, and begin 1 or 2 morning rush runs at DeKalb to run express to CHI? Perhaps, but I don't see that as particularly likely, especially given how slowly the Black Hawk and Rocket seem to be progressing (i.e., not at all).
  by eolesen
State subsidy doesn't require engaging Amtrak. Extending Metra beyond the RTA boundaries could happen if IDOT or another entity subsidized the incremental operating costs past the boundaries.

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  by justalurker66
eolesen wrote: Fri Oct 29, 2021 9:42 amState subsidy doesn't require engaging Amtrak. Extending Metra beyond the RTA boundaries could happen if IDOT or another entity subsidized the incremental operating costs past the boundaries.
Possibly. One would need to check the charter for the RTA. Are there currently any stations outside of the listed counties?

There is an arrangement on the South Shore Line where Metra sets rates and supports service to Hegewisch Illinois while the service itself is provided by South Shore (NICTD) employees on NICTD owned track east of Kensington. This included paying for a few of the rail cars used to provide service (RTA logos on those cars). 40 years later a lot has changed along that line (including NICTD taking ownership of the main line). But RTA is still only supporting service to Hegewisch Illinois.