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 MetraBNSF
How fast is the average interlocking good for on the Metra system? I know that most interlockings on the BNSF are good for 35mph on average and two control points are good for 50mph.

An observation, speaking of interlockings specifically on the BNSF, outbound express trains in the afternoon are switching to the center track with increasing frequency at Cicero "B" vs. Union Ave. Several reasons exist why this takes place. Freights that are parked on main 3 between Union Ave and Cicero "B" and also the rough stretch of track on main 2 through the bridges (see "Rough track on BNSF" post).

  by doepack
The average speed through many interlockings/control points on Metra's system are good for 30-35mph speeds; it's pretty standard on the UP lines, and I would imagine that to be the case on the Rock and SWS, but I'm not totally certain. However, most control points on the C&M and Waukesha (NCS) subs have been upgraded to 40mph operation; in fact, there is a control point just south of Prospect Heights on NCS that allows Metra traffic to travel through it at 55mph, which I think is the highest crossover speed on the system. Also, during the IHB/CN track reconfiguration project at B12 in Franklin Park, all switches were upgraded within the interlocking to allow 40mph operation for Metra traffic, making it compatible with the rest of the interlockings on the Elgin sub between B35 and A5. But for reasons described below, there are still a couple of locations within the common trackage of the Milw/NCS corridor that have interlocking speeds less than 30mph, to wit:

Tower A2: 20mph for Milw/NCS through A2 interlocking, due to track curvature immediately east of the crossing. (Note: UP/W through traffic is allowed 30mph since they're on a straight tangent through the crossing, although yard/lite power moves heading east out of California yard are limited to 20mph as well)...

Pacific Jct/A5: 15mph for Milw W/NCS traffic going to, or coming off the curve leading to Elgin sub. Milw N/Amtrak trains are allowed 60mph through A5, since it's a straight shot to/from the C&M sub.

I think there's also a 15-20mph speed restriction at 67th St. interlocking on Metra Electric for South Chicago trains, and there may be a similar restriction at Kensington for South Shore traffic, but it's probably 30-35mph everywhere else (not including terminals, of course...)

  by Tadman
I don't know the specific MAS through Kensington, but I've never seen a train do more than a crawl through there. Also, the flyover itself for the South Chicago branch could be fast, but there's a sharp curve to get the branch out from under the main, and tubby highliners don't react well to sharp curves. The whole electric district is pretty pokey speed-wise, so I wouldn't expect this to change soon - especially the branches, which are constructed in a manner one step above a roadside trolley and look just like the trolley lines in Shaker Heights. (save for the equipment, of course)

  by PRRGuy
The restriction for South shore at 115th st is 10 mph over the ladder track, I believe it's also 10 mph at 67th st for the South Chicago branch too.

  by Metra416
Alot of the crossovers on the North Central Service where upgraded to 55 mph with the double tracking and expansion project.

  by qboy
On the UP west line crossovers are all good for 40mph except Kedzie. Peck would be good for 50mph but track dept. holds it to 40mph. Coming in and out of the Cal Ave. is 10mph you don't want to do much more than 10. Washington St. or West Chicago J tower is 30mph.

  by doepack
As for HC, all switches through interlocking plants between Joliet and 21st St. jct. are good for at least 40mph. There was talk of upgrading a couple of crossovers in the Lockport/Lemont area to handle 50mph operation for the increased Amtrak service in this corridor, don't know if CN has gotten around to that yet...