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 Jersey_Mike
 
As far as I can tell from various sources the suburban branch on the Rock Island District through Beverly Hills is still not signaled under CTC or ABS rules, but it might not be run under typical track warrants either. Does anyone know what the method of operation is? I have seen it described places as "time control" and I wanted to confirm that and also see what it entails.
  by Tadman
 
According to "Chicagoland Commuter Railroads" by Patrick Dorin, a commuter train expert, the Rock's suburban branch was rebuilt in 1979 with new track and signals because the Rock was so broke that the railroad had literally sunk into the mud. Unfortunately it doesn't say if this is CTC or what type of signals, but given that it'd double track the whole way, I'd presume the branch is simple ABS. It's a bit of a snoozer to ride, as it stops with bus-like frequency. I much prefer main line rides when I have to visit that end of the city. I'll see if I can't find more later, I've got a Rock Island book around here somewhere.
  by Jersey_Mike
 
Actually it still uses Timetable operation.

* A proceed indication displayed by the controlled signals governing entrance to the non-signaled territory or verbal authority from the train dispatcher or control operator will authorize trains which have scheduled passenger stops, as indicated in the Employee Train Schedule, to enter and run with the current of traffic in the non-signaled territory. A train must not follow another train until 10 minutes after the preceding train has departed.
* Road Dispatcher at Gresham Junction and Control Operator at Blue Island must hold trains at the controlled signals governing entrance to the non-signaled territory of the Beverly Sub District until 10 minutes after the preceding train has passed. They must also notify any train which is followed by a train scheduled to precede it.
* Trains not indicated in the Employee Train Schedule as operating via the Beverly Sub District and trains moving against the current of traffic will be authorized by track permit after an absolute block has been established in advance of the movement.


I just got to a point where I could look it up.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Having lived along this piece of track for almost twenty years, I don't think I ever heard a dispatcher or tower operator talk to a train on it. You will get trains talking to each other, though, so two of them don't get to a station at the same time.
  by metraRI
 
The Beverly Sub is mostly unsignaled territory, governed by current of traffic which is designated by an Eastward (EWD) and Westward (WWD) track. CTC limits end at CP Elizabeth on the north (MP 10.4) and CP 15.6 on the South (MP 15.6). On the EWD ABS is in effect from MP 11.25 to MP 10.4. ABS is in effect on the WWD from MP 14.4 to MP 15.6. As already mentioned, trains are not allowed to operate less than 10 minutes apart on the Sub and track permit is required when an unscheduled train runs down the sub. However, Metra gets away with that by issuing a new general order that includes a temporary employee timetable during special events... IE, this past Sunday for the South Side Irish Parade.
  by Jersey_Mike
 
metraRI wrote:The Beverly Sub is mostly unsignaled territory, governed by current of traffic which is designated by an Eastward (EWD) and Westward (WWD) track. CTC limits end at CP Elizabeth on the north (MP 10.4) and CP 15.6 on the South (MP 15.6). On the EWD ABS is in effect from MP 11.25 to MP 10.4. ABS is in effect on the WWD from MP 14.4 to MP 15.6. As already mentioned, trains are not allowed to operate less than 10 minutes apart on the Sub and track permit is required when an unscheduled train runs down the sub. However, Metra gets away with that by issuing a new general order that includes a temporary employee timetable during special events... IE, this past Sunday for the South Side Irish Parade.
Do you know if trains get a Clear indication entering the Time Separation territory at Elizabeth and 125th St?
  by metraRI
 
Yes, Clear is the normal indication going into the non-signaled territory. Only other indication at those signals is Restricting.
  by Jersey_Mike
 
metraRI wrote:Yes, Clear is the normal indication going into the non-signaled territory. Only other indication at those signals is Restricting.
Wow...that's crazy speaking from an Eastern road perspective. For a similar situation we'd dust off some sort of old manual block clear indication which are currently only seen on the LIRR.
  by metraRI
 
This is the east end of CP Elizabeth, CTC is in effect up to this point.
Image
For westbound trains on track #1 (Left, EWD beyond this point.. continuing straight would be against current of traffic),indications are Stop, Diverging Clear, & Restricting. For westbound trains on track #2 (Right, WWD beyond this point), indications are Stop, Clear, & Restricting.
  by byte
 
The Beverly Branch is something of an ignored gem of railfanning on the Metra system. I rarely see photographs of it online, aside from a few that I've taken. For ~2.5 years I used it to get to work downtown, a situation which has since changed due to a move and starting grad school (now using the Orange Line, maybe I'll get all nostalgic about that someday). The schedule of trains is exactly what you're going to see, barring unusual circumstances, but it's rare to find trains operating in such close clearances with houses and streets as on this route.

Random observations about the Beverly Branch:

- You can keep pace with a train stopping between stations on a fast moving bike.
- Leaves on the rails (especially around 107th street) will occasionally force engineers to throw it into emergency in order to get the train stopped on the platform.
- There are 11 stops between (but not including) Gresham and BI - Vermont Street. Of those, 9 of them actually have station buildings, and 7 of the station buildings are the original Rock buildings, which range from grandiose (111th) to quaint (99th). Not all are in a great state of repair, but one by one these old station buildings are getting heavy rehabs.

Probably the most interesting thing about the Branch is that while there is parking, most of the ridership is able to walk from their house to the train. If there ever was a "neighborhood railroad," it's this. Ridership on the branch has dropped off a bit in recent years, and it would be wise for Metra to engage in a local marketing campaign to lure commuters going downtown back onto branch trains.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone: I remember seeing the Rock Island Suburban Line/Beverly Branch for the first time back in the middle 70s and I remember
how bad the two tracks were...it was hard to tell in spots where the edge of S Wood Street (parallels the line) was...

The Rock Island was the first Chicago commuter railroad to benefit from upgrading of its infrastructure by the RTA mainly because
of its precarious financial status saving the service and placing it under the newly-formed Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Company...

The Suburban Line benefited when the two tracks were upgraded to 80 MPH standards with new ties and welded rail but because the stations were
one half mile apart the speed limit was limited to 30 MPH...

The neighborhoods of Beverly and Mount Greenwood adjacent to the line are some of South Chicago's nicest and most stable and have no doubt
benefited from being served by the rail line...

The Rock Island's Chicago-Joliet suburban rail operation was once literally an "operating railroad museum" with its variety of locomotives and
cars up to the RTA upgrading in the late 70s that we will never see again...

MACTRAXX
  by Backshophoss
 
The following is from the RI ETT#1 dated 03/18/1979(new image "THE ROCK")UCOR was used by the RI;
Rule 92 Blocking trains in the same direction-Subdivision 1A. Train directors Gresham Twr and Blue Island Vermont St.
MUST Block trains to Subdivision 1A 5 minutes apart.
Back in 1979 Blue Island Vermont St was a 24 hr open train order office.
Also from the same RI ETT;
Tran Controller at Gresham Twr has jurisdiction over all train and engine movements on Subdivision 1A -
Greshan Jct to Blue Island Vermont St.


Jersey Mike,You mean Block Limit Stations and "K" cards ?
  by Amtrak7
 
As someone used to LIRR, I cannot imagine having this many stops this close together with a diesel train...luckily for those south of Blue Island there's express service during rush hours.
  by byte
 
The system on the Rock works pretty well during rush hours. Branch trains start/terminate at Blue Island as their terminal, and Mainline trains start/terminate at Joliet. Generally Blue Island or Gresham can be used as transfer points.

It is, however, inconvenient (or at least time-consuming) for commuters south of Blue Island during off-peak hours and on weekends. Presently Metra simply runs the trains end to end, routing everything via the branch. I've never seen an old Rock Island schedule so I'm not sure if this was always the case. The branch is still an asset, however - lots of ridership crammed into a small physical area. I'd like to see them try something new in addressing the length of the commute for mainline riders during off peak hours - maybe run it as a shuttle and have people transfer to and from the mainline train at Gresham and/or BI-Vermont, as done on the Electric District at Kensington.
  by Tadman
 
It's a pokey ride to say the least. It is a neighborhood railroad, though.

A word of warning. Gresham tower is not in a good neighborhood. It's a rough area, quite rough. If you want to fan this line, stay toward the south end of the branch. Beverly is a nice area, and Blue Island is blue collar but you won't have any trouble if you're not getting loud if you know what I mean. I've had plenty of fun watching trains there. Grab a burger at the Rail Grill if you get a chance.