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
Let me first put a disclaimer up:

1. Ideas are like noses, everybody has one
2. Even an "easy" idea at a place like IRM takes lots of money and time.

But I saw this picture of a Rock E8 pulling CNW bilevels from the brief era when CNW operated Rock commuter services, and I realized IRM already has most of this consist in place - all that's needed is an E/F in Rock colors to pull the existing CNW cars. Fun idea, eh?

Pic: http://railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=299079&nseq=21

This isn't meant to minimize the current heroic efforts of IRM - they already have their plate full and do a wonderful job of preserving railroad history. Thanks much to the crew out in Union. Just a fun talking point...
  by c604.
You can be sure that if IRM had a Rock E8 or F7, a consist like that would have been put together :-) But like you said, time and money, a lot of elbow grease, and finding an available and geunine unit that fits the bill. Although, over the years at the museum the bilevels have ended up with some rather interesting power at times that would been right at home on the Rock lol.

While we're on the subject, the CNW bilevels themselves are in need of much work and need to get stored inside sooner rather than later, which will require a large amount of money. So if anyone would like to see them operate and ride on them again, donations are always greatly appriciated!
  by Tadman
What kind of effort is required to move them to Chicago for the day/weekend? It'd be a really cool fundraiser to have the CNW F/bilevels, and some other CNW or UP steel at Ogilvie on a sunday - $40 pass to visit, tour, board, and maybe a ride to Clybourn and back or Proviso and back. That's kind of like the Snowflake special that David Harrison puts on to raise money for the CTA shed at IRM.

Such CNW/UP equipment could include whatever UP has on hand in Chicago, which usually includes one of the non-patched C40's, a nice shiny new widecab, etc...
  by EricL
"Museum" moves over a "real" RR can get very expensive, very quickly. Consider that most revenue CTA trains just operate with a motorman nowadays. Of course, the charter trains have lots more employees, but a good deal of them are in management, and therefore paid a set salary, and therefore are essentially donating their time. On the high iron, every train needs a conductor and engineer (both paid per agreement, plus whatever arbitraries might be in play - such as off-day overtime) - and of course, a pilot C+E will be required if the registered crew is not familiar with any of the territory and/or equipment concerned.

I'm sure the FRA and the insurance companies have something to say about it, too. We both know that IRM's operable cars are maintained to a decent standard, but they can not be considered either "private varnish" (i.e. passenger/Amtrak certified) nor "company/business cars". They would basically be considered freight equipment until certain inspections were performed and/or certain exceptions to the Company's AB+TH rules were granted. And, well, passengers can't ride in freight cars.

Now, if such an excursion were to become a somewhat regular event, operated often enough, then the UP might be pleased enough to issue an instruction like "cars IRYM xxxx - yyyy" are considered passenger commuter equipment and can be operated at zz maximum speed". But the chances of that are?

The good news is that most railroad officials and rules people are actually huge buffs...
  by c604.
That would be a cool fundraiser indeed. What you mentioned about the F7/bilevels going downtown actually almost did happen in 2006 when the UP 1995 was being dedicated at Ogilvie (but mainly for UP employees only). The amount of preparation work would depend on how the train would be used. If it were to be towed downtown for just static display at Ogilvie it may be possible with some work. Work for anything more than that (as nice as a trip or two to Clybourn or Proviso does sound) could end up being quite a bit more extensive.
  by Otto Vondrak
Tadman wrote:What kind of effort is required to move them to Chicago for the day/weekend?
You'd have to ask IRM, they just orchestrated a move from IRM to Rock Island, Illinois and back with their Nebraska Zephyr trainset for Train Festival 2011... First time it's been moved off the property in a number of years.
It'd be a really cool fundraiser to have the CNW F/bilevels, and some other CNW or UP steel at Ogilvie on a sunday - $40 pass to visit, tour, board, and maybe a ride to Clybourn and back or Proviso and back.
Sign me up. I'd page $50, even $75 for an event where I could photograph the CNW trainset on the former CNW... Call me when you make it happen.

  by byte
The recent Zephyr move was made a tad easier due to the fact that the train was moving West down the Belvedere sub, and was interchanged around Rockford - and stayed off of ex-C&NW territory with cab signaling (the Belvedere sub, at least between Union and Rockford, doesn't have it). Take the train east and eventually you hit cab signal territory, which throws an obstacle into the mix - my understanding is that the C&NW bilevel equipment no longer have their cab signaling equipment, as it was removed by Metra when that equipment was retired by Metra.
  by Tadman
I like the spirit here. For kicks, let's do some math to workshop this idea.

RR Costs:
Pilot Crew: C&E, 1 (8)hr shift each direction, $100/hr (fully allocated, not take-home pay). $3,200
Mgmt: Salary: $0
Slow track slot: (s.w.a.g.) $5,000/direction = $10,000
Extra RR police and station staff Sunday: (10) men x $100/hr x (8)hr = $8,000

IRM costs:
Pre-trip volunteers: (3)men x (3) weekends of work = 144 hours
Loco fuel: (5)hour trip at (50)gph = (500)gal; at $5/gal that's $2,000 for travel only
Misc material and tools used to prep and make field repairs: $2,000

Total Costs:
That adds up to $25,000 roughly.

Pole Barn Costs (to hours CNW train set at IRM):
Using some random numbers I found on the net, a pole barn costs between $14 and $40/ sq feet. If the IRM bilevels are 80' LOA, and the F7 is 50' LOA, that's 290'. Figure 25' bldg width, that's about 300' LOA for a total area of 7500 square feet. At $14/sqft (cheapest) that barn costs $104,000.

In order to cover the costs of this move, we have to sell 500 tickets at $50/each. In order to cover the cheapest barn, we need to sell another 2,080 tickets. That's a lot of tickets. The IRM Snowflake Special was (3) pairs of 2200's at 88 people/pair, for a total ridership of about 264 people. It appears we would have to double the Snowflake Special ticket sales just to cover costs.

If you have thoughts on my math, please contribute. This is "back of napkin" if you will. I just want to gain an understanding of what this ordeal takes. It appears Ogilivie can easily hold such crowds. It may also be a good idea to broaden the event in order to draw more people. Maybe:
-$5 child tickets
-merchandise sales
-unpatched CNW C40-8W displayed
-DDA40x Centennial or E9 display (more money or would UP donate the transport costs?)

As you can see even this "small" event is not such a small undertaking and would likely take a year's planning if one were to also have a full time job or family.
  by byte
I can narrow down your IRM barn costs for you: Approximately $200 per (linear) foot of rolling stock will likely be the rate for the next barn up. So an 85' (or so) bilevel gallery car would cost about $17,000 to put inside. The cost/ft figure is generated by the museum, and covers all costs, from design, to construction, permits, wetland mitigation, etc. Prior to the cost of indoor barn space, a piece of equipment must also have regular track space, which is about $75 per foot right now. So if a fundraising member has a piece of rolling stock they want to see acquired and put indoors, the cost they're looking at is $275 per foot for that car.

There's also a misconception out there that class-1 management is usually receptive, or will even listen to a proposal for using their rails for a museum trip. Multiple routes were proposed for the IRM trip to Rock Island, including actually using the Rock Island, from Chicago. However, that plan was nixed, at least in part because one railroad (no names mentioned...) absolutely would not allow the train on their rails. IRM's relationship with UP has been pretty good but when it was the C&NW next door, and all the upper management were from the area, it helped tremendously and equipment moves were undertaken with special permission which would be a lot harder/expensive to do today.

The Snowflake Special finances are a little different than one might expect, because two of the cars have been subsidized by a VERY generous museum member (who is always on the trip, performing a vital function...), which helps the museum tremendously as it allows more ticket proceeds to go straight to the museum rather than toward event costs. The CTA provides two operators (one for each end of the train) and one manager, but I believe these are fixed and not unique to only our trip (would be the same crew whether you're IRM lugging foamers all around the city for 7 hours, or the Art Institute circling the loop for an hour and a half to show off new urban-themed art in a truly authentic setting). The CTA will not run a charter shorter than four cars for equipment reliability reasons (lessens the chance of a total breakdown which stalls the system up) so if you pay for two cars, you get four but only two are open to you. IRM pays for four, but if you want more than four you get a good deal - only another $500 (I think) per pair after that. The packed trips the museum's run over the past two years have been great for fundraising because those 5th and 6th cars is where we can really generate funds - 12 people buy tickets in the 5th car and the whole pair is paid for, then everything after that is yours. IRM will NEVER run an 8-car charter due to the bathroom logistics involved on these trips.
  by GWoodle
I'll make it easy for you:
1) Sell them to the Music City Star, $1 per car, then restored in the Tennessee Central Rwy Museum, (Nashville & Eastern)
2) come down here & ride our little train. Ride ex-C&NW gallery cars pulled by ex-Amtrak F-40's.
3) Part of the installation is new electronics for the signal system. Not sure what is used here.
4) Get the state to keep these branch lines in operation to preserve some jobs. Build in more industrial customers!
  by eolesen
Neither the cab car or the F7 are legal to operate on the UP --- no ditch lights, and they don't qualify for the FRA exemption. The NZ was able to operate because it is old enough.

It's a moot point for now, as all three of the bi-levels need new windows, and one has been in the shop for a couple years now trying to resolve issues with the air conditioning. The current windows are so obscured and fogged the only purpose they serve are to know if it is day or night outside. You can't see thru them, and anyone paying $X for a ticket is going to ask for a refund once they get onboard...

If you want to ride C&NW cars with windows you can see thru, the Iowa Northern runs their Hawkeye Express to/from the stadium in Iowa City.

If you want to see something powered at IRM in CRIP colors, then donate to the painting fund for engine 4160... it would look good pulling the Rock Island coaches.