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 qboy
Well thats probably the best and most efficient way to get crews back to their trains and crew facilities for rest. And that includes the shop employees too. They are essentially flag stops in the employee timetable for certain trains to make the stops to p/u and drop employees. While its not in the public schedule. I have no problem putting them in the public schedule, but I don't see that happening. But I don't see anyone hiding anything its a regular daily practice.

Metra trains also regularly make stops to pick up and let off employees at coach yards or other facilities. It's sort of a de facto practice that they try to keep quiet - otherwise people would complain about it. It still irritates me, though.[/quote]
  by Tadman
This is what I call "non-news". It's basic math and basic operations theory.

Dropping employees off at yards is bad? I've never seen a railroad that doesn't do it. There's a good possibility that the train wouldn't get to the destination any faster anyway - it's not like they run 79mph sprints from station to station...

Schedule padding is bad? Any airline, bus, or railroad pads schedules in order to, wait for it, make the service run on a reliable schedule. It's not like there's some "natural law of railroading" that says a train must be scheduled to complete a journey as fast as possible.

And this BS about how the average "hides" habitually late trains is total and utter bullcrap. An average, by dictionary definition, is the middle of a data set. If you want to find the repeat offenders in lateness, those are called "statistical outliers" and an average is specifically designed *not* to assign much weight to those occasions. In other words, those that are angry with Metra about this math are laboring under a delusion - a delusion that Metra's on-time averages are responsible for disclosing more than they do.

Slow news day?
  by lstone19
Let me preface my remarks by saying I do airline scheduling for a living (in particular, the part of it involving the length of a flight). If there's one thing I hate, it's when people accuse of padding schedules when a schedule is made longer. Schedules, for an airline and I'm sure, for Metra, in large part take into account the history seen in recent years. When flights start actually taking longer (and there are a lot of factors for airlines that don't really apply to Metra such as wind and airport congestion (yes, Metra has to be concerned about congestion but not in the way an airline does as airlines share airports with other airlines not under their control)), schedules are lengthened to reflect that reality. We have a target percentage of flights that are completed in or under schedule and adjust schedules periodically to reflect reality. And we also know what the unimpeded (no congestion) time should be.

It should be no different for Metra. Even if you assume running time when the train is in motion should be the same from day to day, there are other factors that can change, both slowly over time and from day to day, that effect station dwell time. If passengers boarding or deboarding change, so will staton dwell time. Throw in an occasional wheelchair and too will affect station dwell time. And don't forget the more passengers, the heavier the train and the slower it is to accelerate. Of course, eventually loads grow sufficiently to add another car which will decrease passengers boarding/deboarding per car and reduce station dwell time but at the expense of making each speed restriction 85 feet longer (longer trains need more time to get over the road) and making the train even heavier.

But Metra has one more problem I don't have to worry about. My scheduling is single-segment. Metra (and almost all trains) have to be scheduled for multiple segments. Too much time in the first part of the trip to assure on-time arrival at intermediate stations means some days you're waiting for time at those intermediate stations. Too little up front and lots of extra time in the final segment means late at all the intermediate stations while still on-time at the end (and if there's almost no one on the train at the last station, very few get to see the on-time arrival). Since I get off at Roselle, I don't really care if the train arrives Big Timber on-time; I only care about what time it gets to Roselle (it could die at Schaumburg for all I care :-) ). Finding the balance in multi-leg schedules that get you reliable arrival performance at the intermediate stations without having to wait for time is not easy.

Consider the effect of wheelchairs. Boarding or deboarding a wheelchair adds about a minute to a station stop. But add that minute to every segment and you're waiting for time at most stations most days. Ignore it and a wheelchair puts you behind schedule the rest of the way.

So where some want to say schedules are padded, I say they just reflect the reality of the actual operation. Sure, a train could get over the road in less time but it would have to be empty to do it. And an empty train isn't really doing anybody any good.
  by byte
Tadman wrote: Dropping employees off at yards is bad? I've never seen a railroad that doesn't do it. There's a good possibility that the train wouldn't get to the destination any faster anyway - it's not like they run 79mph sprints from station to station...
I think the point being made has to do with unscheduled drop-offs. I know the Rock has a mini "station" at 47th street, and throughout the day there are several trains which make scheduled, but "hidden" stops there. Basically the schedule is built with that stop in it, it's just not in the public timetable.

On the other hand, I think the point Eric was referencing is that both BNSF and UP both run freight ops in Metra territory, both have big yards/crew change points en-route, and thus can "save a buck or two" if they needed to move someone from point A to point B on Metra, even if that person was on duty for a reason unrelated to commuter service - all while adding a few minutes to the travel times of passengers on the train.
  by metraRI
Now available: OTP reports.
http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/abou ... mance.html

Something else prompted by the Tribune. Appears these were always done, just never released to the public.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... 6763.story

In other news, construction of the Englewood Flyover which has funding delays, is now set to start construction this summer:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... 8615.story
  by doepack
metraRI wrote:Now available: OTP reports.
http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/abou ... mance.html
For the most part, the OTP reports are pretty insightful, and tend to confirm my observations about some lines being more prone to specific kinds of delays than others. Not surprisingly, HC & UP/W get nailed with freight train interference delays most often; but while route profile seems to play more of a role on HC (crossing three busy freight routes at grade certainly enhances the possibility, and something that will definitely need to be addressed if Metra ever gets serious about adding more service), freight train interference in the form of disabled trains tend to happen most often on UP/W, especially when something goes belly-up in "no man's land" (aka that 15 mile stretch with no active crossovers between Elmhurst & W. Chgo, although that will be changing soon). But something else that struck me was the amount of delays on BNSF due to "dispatcher errors", especially at the Congress Park plant, where it appears some rush hour trains are misrouted at times; which is interesting. Also, the Tribune article mentions UP/N 359 as "the worst-performing run on the entire Metra system, running late 23 percent of the time in 2010.", but this is largely due to a late turn of equipment from its inbound counterpart 352, which frequently runs late en-route, a fact the Tribune omitted. Still, I wonder what Metra's real motivation is for the sudden change in philosophy regarding increased transparency: Could it be more about keeping the Tribune off their backs than actually keeping the public informed? Hard to say...

Thanks Kyle, for posting the link...
  by doepack
Obiturary: William D. Middleton, noted historical author of the North Shore and South Shore interurbans...
  by doepack
No more "construction allowances" to hide late trains...
  by doepack
Oswego extension still on the table...
  by doepack
Upcoming CTA station projects, some of which are way, WAY, overdue...
  by jstolberg
Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday announced they've lined up the funds for a variety of projects that will begin next year, including new track and power systems, and the rebuilding or renovation of 11 stations.
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... n-makeover

The tracks in the Dan Ryan median will be replaced.
  by kaitoku
Nippon-Sharyo USA has hired nine managers, and is recruiting supervisors and lead assemblers for a train car factory under construction in Rochelle.

The $35 million plant is expected to open in May 2012 and Rachel Untz says the company will be hiring through May 2013 as production ramps up. Untz, human resource manager for Nippon-Sharyo in Rochelle, said the plant will employ about 300 people when fully staffed.
http://blogs.e-rockford.com/brianleaf/2 ... r-factory/
  by byte
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews crashed his Mercedes into an "L support pillar yesterday: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ho ... 8596.story
Toews, who was not scheduled to play Thursday night against the Stars because of an upper-body injury, clipped a CTA elevated track support beam on Lake Street at 9:22 a.m., causing front-end damage to his 2009 Mercedes-Benz, according to a police report.
  by jstolberg
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... -year-high
A total of 531,960,253 rides were taken in 2011, according to figures the CTA released today. That marks a 3 percent increase from 2010 ridership, but it does not beat the previous high of 540 million rides in 1991.
El ridership is up 5.2% with the Blue line leading the way.
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