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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by M&Eman
 
Why do the el lines cross roads at grade in the suburbs. Is this safe? How many pedestrians or cars have been hit by trains? Has the CTA ever considered grade seperating the yellow and brown lines out here?

  by benltrain
 
why would they? the only real issue i beileve is the sound they make at 2AM when people are trying to sleep.

  by doepack
 
M&Eman wrote:Why do the el lines cross roads at grade in the suburbs. Is this safe? How many pedestrians or cars have been hit by trains? Has the CTA ever considered grade seperating the yellow and brown lines out here?
The Chicago Rapid Transit Company, one of CTA's predecssors, were the original builders of much of today's rapid transit network in Chicago, and this includes the grade segments of the Blue line's Cermak branch, and the western portion of the Brown line. As originally constructed circa 1900 or so, the area along the outer terminus of these routes were sparsely populated, which prompted the builders to decide it unnecessary to elevate the tracks in the area. As the population increased, so did the number of accidents, and the CRT responded by assigning gatemen to guard the crossings. Gatemen didn't last very long into the CTA era, after taking over from the CRT in 1947, all gatemen had been replaced by automated crossing signals within a decade. Most accidents that occur on at CTA grade crossings today usually involve cars, particularly those that drive around lowered gates, but for the most part, trains hitting pedestrians doesn't occur that often; most people that live in the area are pretty aware of the trains.

Although I can't recall any sort of grade seperation projects considered for the Blue and Brown lines, the idea was kicked around a bit for the Yellow line during the 60's and 70's, but it was never seriously pursued. In recent years though, other costlier reconstruction projects have been among CTA's priorities, such as the rebuilding of the Green and Blue lines, and the ongoing rebuilding of the Brown line, so if it still exists, grade seperation of the Yellow line is likely to stay on the backburner for awhile.

  by orangeline
 
In my opinion, an even more amazing thing about the grade crossings is that at least a few pedestrians don't get fried by the exposed 3rd rail!

By the way, I believe that up until 1970 or so, the NYCTA "LL" Canarsie line had at least one grade crossing near the outbound end of its route in Brooklyn. They were eliminated by turning the streets into dead ends on both sides of the tracks. You wouldn't be able to do that here because some of the streets crossing the L tracks are very busy north-south arteries, e.g. Cicero Ave on the Douglas branch of the Blue line.

  by octr202
 
orangeline wrote:In my opinion, an even more amazing thing about the grade crossings is that at least a few pedestrians don't get fried by the exposed 3rd rail!

By the way, I believe that up until 1970 or so, the NYCTA "LL" Canarsie line had at least one grade crossing near the outbound end of its route in Brooklyn. They were eliminated by turning the streets into dead ends on both sides of the tracks. You wouldn't be able to do that here because some of the streets crossing the L tracks are very busy north-south arteries, e.g. Cicero Ave on the Douglas branch of the Blue line.
Aren't there "cattle guards" on the tracks on either side of the crossings to make it more difficult for people to get onto the section of the tracks where the third rail resumes? I know that that doesn't make it impossible, but then again, neither does a fenced in right of way either. If someone wants to, they can always get onto the tracks.

With this in mind, in the NYC area I think the Long Island RR also had grae crossings in third rail territory, and also I've seen picutres of what I recall being the NYC electric territory where there were low-level station platforms in third rail territory.

Its all in what you're used to I guess. If people are around it long enough, you understand it and get used to it. Back here (Boston) on the Green Line, we have low level platforms in subway stations for the trolleys, even a spot where you are alowed to walk across the track in a subway station -- and people seem to manage to avoid getting killed. All in what you're used to.

(Of course, in a discussion on our MBTA forum about the conversion of a line here from PCCs to heavy rail cars, I used some illustrations of the Ravenswood Brown Line, and everyone reacted with horror to the concept! ) :wink: