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 Wingnut
 
OK, that's a slight exaggeration. ;) And most of them are concentrated between Summit and Union Station. I also know of CREATE's long term plan to bridge over the Brighton Park interlocking. But for the near term, why do Metra and Amtrak trains have to crawl along this whole stretch at 30 mph? All these crossings are at least 1.2 miles apart. There's no clear reason why trains can't be permitted to go 40 or 50 mph between interlockings, especially on a favorable signal indication. I can see shaving 90 to 120 seconds off the travel time here. More than that, it would end the perception of continuous, nonsensical creeping that now takes place for the first 8 miles out of Chicago.
  by doepack
 
Well, the short answer is that CN owns the railroad, and as such, they get to impose whatever speed limits they see fit.

But the real answer lies in a combination of several factors, which include curvature, turnouts, bridges, and most importantly, track condition. Metra/Amtrak trains have to commonly negotiate through several 10mph crossovers on the Freeport sub (between 21st St. Jct. and Bridgeport, used by passenger traffic to connect Amtrak's terminal district with CN's Joliet sub) and the overall speed is further declined by the several curves along this stretch as well. Last time I rode this route (2 years ago I think), there were also several sections of jointed rail on the Freeport sub segment which is another contributing factor; although this may have been replaced since.

And speaking of Brighton Park: Until several years ago, this was a non-interlocked crossing with semaphore signals controlled by an on site switchtender. All traffic through here was required to stop first, then proceed on signal indication. (An antiquated operation true, but it certainly attracted its fair share of railfans from around the world for this very reason). Today, this crossing is now controlled remotely from NS's Ashland Ave. yard, which has sped things up a little, but real improvement won't occur until the flyover is built. For now, we'll just have to take what we can get...
  by Wingnut
 
doepack wrote:But the real answer lies in a combination of several factors, which include curvature, turnouts, bridges, and most importantly, track condition. Metra/Amtrak trains have to commonly negotiate through several 10mph crossovers on the Freeport sub (between 21st St. Jct. and Bridgeport, used by passenger traffic to connect Amtrak's terminal district with CN's Joliet sub) and the overall speed is further declined by the several curves along this stretch as well.
Well, even if we concede on the segment between 21st St. and Bridgeport, there are still three more segments between Bridgeport, Brighton Park, Corwith, and Lemoyne that should be faster without too much trouble. Those are all nice and straight even though the vicinity immediately around Brighton and Corwith also have curves.

And yes, I remember the historic manned interlocking at Brighton Park too. I never had the opportunity to railfan it personally, but I do appreciate how difficult it was for fifty different railroads to agree on and finance the automated interlocking there now. That's the only reason it wasn't modernized back in the 19th Century.

Sheesh, I'm being bad today. I rarely use this much sarcasm in my posts. :P
  by ExCon90
 
Speaking of sarcasm, on my one visit to the old Brighton Park I was interested to hear the B&OCT dispatcher address it on the radio as "Brighton Park Control Center." Looking around inside the tumbledown shack housing the mechanical levers that controlled the off-plumb semaphores, I couldn't be sure whether the dispatcher was being sarcastic or if the place was actually called that.