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 HammerJack
 
EricL wrote: I do wish they would do something about 2133/2231 though. The latter leaves two minutes behind the former, both go out main 1, but 2133 almost always loses time getting out of the station (waiting for late pax... waiting for inbound DH equip... maybe they're blue flagged until the last minute? I dunno, it seems like it's always SOMETHING) and then so the first five minutes of 2231's trip pretty much just consists of creeping along/stopping
Looking at the schedules, there really isn't much they can do about these trains. Track 2 obviously is not an option since it is used by the parade of deadheads from Western Ave. Yard. Track 3 isn't an option since it is being used by MD-W train 2242. Pushing up 2131's departure would solve nothing as it would be running on 2129's yellows all the way until Morton Grove. Pushing back 2133's departure isn't an option either because of that Amtrak train that leaves at 5.08. It is only 6 minutes behind 2133 at Glenview, so a later departure of 2133 would just delay it. The Amtrak is the reason for the 14 minute gap in MD-N trains out of CUS. So I'm not too sure if Metra has any options when it comes to these two trains... Maybe combine them into one local to Fox Lake? That doesn't sound too appealing though... Anyone have any ideas how to solve this?
  by lstone19
 
EricL wrote:It's a good thing for a lot of people. Every train from 2133 to 2141 has to run "more or less" on time, or else the whole railroad sort of goes to hell for the rest of the night. Sorry that the Elgin line is already horrendously slow (I know it is, I used to commute on it), but running those half-dozen outbounds out on 3 makes a lot of operational sense by enabling tight headways out of CUS somewhat reliably.

I do wish they would do something about 2133/2231 though. The latter leaves two minutes behind the former, both go out main 1, but 2133 almost always loses time getting out of the station (waiting for late pax... waiting for inbound DH equip... maybe they're blue flagged until the last minute? I dunno, it seems like it's always SOMETHING) and then so the first five minutes of 2231's trip pretty much just consists of creeping along/stopping
No, 2231 normally goes out main 3 assuming everything scheduled to come in 3 has made it in. But both 2133 at 4:48 and 2231 at 4:50 are moves that tie up the entire plant as 2133 goes from station track 1 across to main 1 and then 2231 goes from station track 13 to main 3.

And from the days when I've ridden 2231, it's more complicated than that. 2131 departs station track 15 at 4:45 and before 2231 can departs at 4:50, not only does 2133 have to get out but the equipment move into 15 for 2135 has to happen, a move that crosses 2133's departure.
  by lstone19
 
HammerJack wrote:
EricL wrote: I do wish they would do something about 2133/2231 though. The latter leaves two minutes behind the former, both go out main 1, but 2133 almost always loses time getting out of the station (waiting for late pax... waiting for inbound DH equip... maybe they're blue flagged until the last minute? I dunno, it seems like it's always SOMETHING) and then so the first five minutes of 2231's trip pretty much just consists of creeping along/stopping
Looking at the schedules, there really isn't much they can do about these trains. Track 2 obviously is not an option since it is used by the parade of deadheads from Western Ave. Yard. Track 3 isn't an option since it is being used by MD-W train 2242. Pushing up 2131's departure would solve nothing as it would be running on 2129's yellows all the way until Morton Grove. Pushing back 2133's departure isn't an option either because of that Amtrak train that leaves at 5.08. It is only 6 minutes behind 2133 at Glenview, so a later departure of 2133 would just delay it. The Amtrak is the reason for the 14 minute gap in MD-N trains out of CUS. So I'm not too sure if Metra has any options when it comes to these two trains... Maybe combine them into one local to Fox Lake? That doesn't sound too appealing though... Anyone have any ideas how to solve this?
4:50 is the critical time at CUS-N. If everything is on time, every station track at CUS-N is occupied except 1 (from which 2133 has just departed) and 19 (unless the Empire Builder has already arrived; 19 is also is a spare for when things go wrong (have departed 19 on a handful of occasions)). If everything is on-time, at 4:50 we have 2235 (5:05) on 3, 113 (5:01) on 5, 2239 (5:23) on 7, 2233 (4:55) on 9, 111 (4:58) on 11, 2231 (4:50) on 13, 2135 (5:12) on 15, and Amtk 339 (5:08) on 17. In the next 41 minutes, there are 14 departures scheduled at which point the station is almost empty (just 2143's equipment should be in station after 115 departs at 5:31). Prior to 4:50, main 3 is needed inbound to provide the capacity to "stock" the station for the departure rush. After 4:50, it's needed outbound to handle those 14 departures in 41 minutes.

At this point, it would seem to make sense to move 2233 up two or three minutes to 4:52 or 4:53 to give it a little more time. It goes out main 1 so 2231 at 4:50 is not a factor (assuming it went out main 3). But the other factor is getting through A-2. Capacity is tight at A-2 with it quite normal to see three simultaneous MD moves (when I take 2235, it's not unusual for us to go through side-by-side with 339). UP is still making equipment moves from California Avenue as well as the UP-W trains. So it might be that having 2233 depart earlier would just mean it then waits longer at A-2 and is at Western Ave. at the same time as with a 4:55 departure.
  by HammerJack
 
HammerJack wrote:
EricL wrote: I do wish they would do something about 2133/2231 though. The latter leaves two minutes behind the former, both go out main 1, but 2133 almost always loses time getting out of the station (waiting for late pax... waiting for inbound DH equip... maybe they're blue flagged until the last minute? I dunno, it seems like it's always SOMETHING) and then so the first five minutes of 2231's trip pretty much just consists of creeping along/stopping
Looking at the schedules, there really isn't much they can do about these trains. Track 2 obviously is not an option since it is used by the parade of deadheads from Western Ave. Yard. Track 3 isn't an option since it is being used by MD-W train 2242. Pushing up 2131's departure would solve nothing as it would be running on 2129's yellows all the way until Morton Grove. Pushing back 2133's departure isn't an option either because of that Amtrak train that leaves at 5.08. It is only 6 minutes behind 2133 at Glenview, so a later departure of 2133 would just delay it. The Amtrak is the reason for the 14 minute gap in MD-N trains out of CUS. So I'm not too sure if Metra has any options when it comes to these two trains... Maybe combine them into one local to Fox Lake? That doesn't sound too appealing though... Anyone have any ideas how to solve this?
Whoops I totally misread your post! I you said 2131/2133, but you actually said 2231/2133. Haha my bad! So ignore everything I said in my last post.
lstone19 wrote:No, 2231 normally goes out main 3 assuming everything scheduled to come in 3 has made it in. But both 2133 at 4:48 and 2231 at 4:50 are moves that tie up the entire plant as 2133 goes from station track 1 across to main 1 and then 2231 goes from station track 13 to main 3.
That is what I saw. 2231 went out on Track 3. Therefore, I don't really see how 2231 could delay 2133 (which uses Track 1). But I could see 2231 being delayed because doesn't 2242 use Track 3 as well? It arrives CUS at 4.49.
lstone19 wrote:At this point, it would seem to make sense to move 2233 up two or three minutes to 4:52 or 4:53 to give it a little more time. It goes out main 1 so 2231 at 4:50 is not a factor (assuming it went out main 3). But the other factor is getting through A-2. Capacity is tight at A-2 with it quite normal to see three simultaneous MD moves (when I take 2235, it's not unusual for us to go through side-by-side with 339). UP is still making equipment moves from California Avenue as well as the UP-W trains. So it might be that having 2233 depart earlier would just mean it then waits longer at A-2 and is at Western Ave. at the same time as with a 4:55 departure.
In theory this would work, but like you said, A-2 is just a roll of the dice. I saw 2233 late getting out of Western Ave. because it was halted by California Yard movements. 2235 made it through A-2 without a delay, but the Amtrak had to wait for a UP-W train to pass. To me, it almost looked like A-2 was giving priority to the UP trains, but that might have been just been luck of the draw and good timing.
  by EricL
 
OK guys, I was apparently mistaken; 2231 might indeed go out main 3, and perhaps I was just lacking enough attention to notice such. I just like to sit in my cab on 17 track and observe the signals that are lined up and the trains that take them. It gives me a pretty good idea as to how the rest of my night might turn out.

2131 just about always gets out of CUS without any delay. In fact he usually gets all green lights lighted up for him a good several minutes in advance. He occasionally gets hung up enroute, but for the most part, he gets over the road. This crew ties up in Fox Lake for the night and they are usually eager to get in, since (excepting their days off) they go right back to work on 2106 the next morning.

I defer to others on consist details, but might it be theoretically possible to swap tracks of 2133 and 2231? I don't know off the top of my head what/when the inbound equipment is. All I really know is that 2133's cars are already in the depot from a previous arrival; only the engine comes back down from WACY. It seems like such an obvious idea that certainly it would have been done already: if 2133 left off of 13 track while 2231 left off 1 track (opposite of the current arrangement), then certainly they wouldn't get in the way of each other? maybe one consideration is that 2231 is a somewhat long train which might not fit into 1 track without blocking the north end of 3 track? again, I honestly don't know, since I don't pay enough attention to this stuff

One bone I have to pick is that 2133's departure is sometimes - not always - delayed by the arrival of 2135's equipment. This fits into my previous statement about delays due to inbound DH equipment. Maybe I have a different school of thought from other people, but in my mind, the outbounds absolutely HAVE to be prioritized during this particular timeframe. I realize that it can be a tight situation with only one track dedicated to inbound moves. I also realize that dh215 is meant to arrive onto 15 track just minutes after 2131 leaves. It works fine assuming everything is on time. When something is a couple of minutes off, it's up in the air. Please correct me if I'm off base here: but I maintain that it is much more important to let 2133 (if not also 2231) leave, before letting in 2242 and/or dh2135. 2135 has plenty of time before it has to turn and leave. I don't know what turns off 2242 (again defer to others), but unless it is a super extremely short turn, then put him away on main 4 at Lake St for a few mins to let other stuff pass.

I have seen what 2133 can actually do for time if he makes it over the road without screwing around: it IS actually possible for him to stay far enough ahead of 339 for all green signals, and to have ample time for his Deerfield turn. But his main sticking point is with the UP at Mayfair. _IF_ he gets a totally clean run out that far (usually doesn't due to CUS tomfoolery), and he convinces CY to let him through, then he'll do well. Otherwise, he'll leave Mayfair at least five minutes behind time. And as I alluded to before: once 2133 falls behind, then 339 will fall behind, then 2135, then 2137/2152, then etc. etc.... it gets to be a mess for everyone (freight, metra, amtrak) involved.
  by EricL
 
HammerJack wrote:In theory this would work, but like you said, A-2 is just a roll of the dice. I saw 2233 late getting out of Western Ave. because it was halted by California Yard movements. 2235 made it through A-2 without a delay, but the Amtrak had to wait for a UP-W train to pass. To me, it almost looked like A-2 was giving priority to the UP trains, but that might have been just been luck of the draw and good timing.
Yes, what you witnessed was an aberration. Normally most of the A2 operators are very good and know how to prioritize. However, sometimes a HOT move crops up, i.e. a train is late out of one or the other coach yard, which also happens to have a tight turn downtown. Well, you've got to let it go, or else suffer the domino-effect-type-consequences later.

90% of the time, the sequence of movements during this small particular chunk of the day, goes like this:
- Heritage train cut loose from WACY
- UP moves
- 2235 goes 3 to 3, after a minute or two wait
- 2141's train cut loose from WACY
- 339 goes 1 to 1, might occasionally catch a yellow signal from the aforementioned move
- UP's turn again
- 2144 almost always stops at Western Ave to wait for UP, but if late, he might also have to follow 2143's train out of WACY.
  by doepack
 
Apologies in advance for my contribution to the ongoing topic drift. I stand accused with the others...

EricL wrote:I defer to others on consist details, but might it be theoretically possible to swap tracks of 2133 and 2231? I don't know off the top of my head what/when the inbound equipment is. All I really know is that 2133's cars are already in the depot from a previous arrival; only the engine comes back down from WACY. It seems like such an obvious idea that certainly it would have been done already: if 2133 left off of 13 track while 2231 left off 1 track (opposite of the current arrangement), then certainly they wouldn't get in the way of each other? maybe one consideration is that 2231 is a somewhat long train which might not fit into 1 track without blocking the north end of 3 track? again, I honestly don't know, since I don't pay enough attention to this stuff
Last I saw, 2231 is nine cars. That consist should fit on track 1 without fouling anything, even with the engine off the platform. It looks workable on paper, but according to my notes from a few years ago, 2133 is turned from inbound 2134 which arrives CUS track 1 at 1:22, and it's engine is swapped out to WACY for fresh power. Maybe 13 isn't available then? Or it could be that, with Amtrak calling the shots, Metra is only allowed to use certain tracks at certain times. Don't know for sure, but these could be among the other factors at work.
EricL wrote:Please correct me if I'm off base here: but I maintain that it is much more important to let 2133 (if not also 2231) leave, before letting in 2242 and/or dh2135. 2135 has plenty of time before it has to turn and leave. I don't know what turns off 2242 (again defer to others), but unless it is a super extremely short turn, then put him away on main 4 at Lake St for a few mins to let other stuff pass.
2242 normally turns to 2239, and has a listed CUS arrival of 4:49, but there's plenty of padding in that, and on good days, it should arrive track 7 within a few minutes after MDN 2129 departs that same track at 4:40. The way 2242's schedule is structured, with the slop on the east end, it can probably keep its track 3 route into the depot within a 5 minute delay enroute before it gets routed with the continuing deadhead parade on 2, likely at A-5 (where it may have to meet other outbound traffic depending on how far down it is).

Otherwise, I agree that outbound traffic SHOULD have priority over the inbound equipment moves. It's just that, as we all know, it's easier said than done sometimes...
  by lstone19
 
Eric, I think it's 2143's equipment that normally goes through A-2 at the same time 2235 does. It's already about 5:15 at this point which is very late for equipemnt for 2141 and it's 5:30 departure. Whatever it is, it's the double-headed eight-car set. And there are plenty of days when neither it or the Heritage set have made it out as we roll by on 2235.
Regarding swapping 2133 and 2231, I don't think there's any way they'd put 2231 on 1. I thought 1 was limited to five cars - while nine might fit, I think at least three cars would be off the platform. Plus there's no Madison St. access to 1 (or 3). Putting a train that normally uses 5 though 15 on 1 or 3 (or 17 or 19 as occassionally happens) will get complaints from people who use the Madison St. entrance. For whatever reason, from what I've seen, Metra likes to keep the nine and ten-car trains on 13 and 15 (although the holiday getaway schedule always puts the 10-car, operating as an MD-W mid-afternoon extra, on 11).
Regardless, CUS is tightly choreographed in that critical rush hour period with arrivals coming just a minute or two after a track has been vacated (one day a year or so ago, they must have temporarily run out of room with the result of 2233 and 339 swapping tracks (Amtrak sitting on Track 9 in the middle of rush-hour looked very strange).
  by lstone19
 
lstone19 wrote: Regarding swapping 2133 and 2231, I don't think there's any way they'd put 2231 on 1. I thought 1 was limited to five cars - while nine might fit, I think at least three cars would be off the platform. Plus there's no Madison St. access to 1 (or 3). Putting a train that normally uses 5 though 15 on 1 or 3 (or 17 or 19 as occassionally happens) will get complaints from people who use the Madison St. entrance.
I took a good look at the 1/3 platform a couple of days ago. Right now, the north end of the platform is blocked off and in bad shape but if it were fixed up, I think 1 could accommodate 8 cars and 3 could accommodate 7 (maybe 8 if it pulls all the way down to the south end of the track where the protector engine frequently sits but there's no platform there - the 3/5 switch makes 3's usable length shorter). To put more cars on 1, you'd need to use the "alternate" route out of 1 which comes off 1 (as you pull out) several car lengths down the platform but would allow only about six cars to be on the platform.
  by HammerJack
 
Once again, I spent some time at River Grove today and returned on 2235. I was a little disappointed when I saw an F40 leading 2235, since I like hearing the K5LA horns. Does anyone know if this train usually runs with a certain type of locomotive, or if it is purely random? Anyway, we met 2246 at Itasca again, but this time, we got to blast through. The conductor was taking my ticket as we passed through, so I heard 2246 tell 2235 to pass through on the radio. 2246 didn't open the doors until we had passed. Around Medinah, we hit a yellow of 2233 (no surprise there). After Roselle, the ride was a bit disappointing. At Roselle West, we switched to Main 2, but caught up to 2233 again at Schaumburg. After Schaumburg, it was all yellows and reds from 2233. We definitely could have overtaken 2233, but that really isn't an option. I have a feeling these type of delays are common on this train.

I thought of a solution to this. Between Franklin Park and National St., have 2233's schedule expanded by a few minutes (5-ish) to account for the current delays. Then have 2235 switch to Main 2 at Roselle West and overtake 2233 somewhere in the Hanover Park/Bartlett area. Or... simply push 2235's departure back to 5.10.
  by lstone19
 
HammerJack wrote:I thought of a solution to this. Between Franklin Park and National St., have 2233's schedule expanded by a few minutes (5-ish) to account for the current delays. Then have 2235 switch to Main 2 at Roselle West and overtake 2233 somewhere in the Hanover Park/Bartlett area. Or... simply push 2235's departure back to 5.10.
Why? So I can sit at my desk at work for an extra five minutes? Thanks.

But that wouldn't work as then 2237 would be riding 2235's yellows. 2237 catches up with 2235 enough as it is. My assumption is the reason 2235 switches to Main 2 at Roselle West is to get it out of the way and let 2237 close up on 2233.

The more I think about it though, it would make sense to let 2235 pass 2233. Both 2233 and 2235 are stored on the tracks closest to the river just east of the Elgin station. As I understand it, it's a power switch leading in with a hand-throw between the two storage tracks. Letting 2235 in first would minimize the number of times the crews have to throw that switch. Normal rotation is 2233 (first in) becomes 2204 in the morning (first out); 2235 becomes 2208 (during the day, normally what starts as 2204 ends the day as 2235). Letting 2235 in first would mean last in is the first out and in the afternoon, the switch would already be set for 2235. Two throws of the switch each day rather than four.

To answer your first question (not quoted), engine assignments appear to be completely at random. As far as I can tell, they don't even think about putting the higher horsepower MP36s on the ten car on pre-holiday days (when it runs the holiday extra making all stops from Bensenville rather than express to Schaumburg) or on weekends like this (Air and Water Show) when the ten car will probably be doing weekend duty.
  by Thunder
 
To the topic of passing a train in a station. Unless there is a high platform ( like the entire MED district or 35th and Gresham on the Rock) or intertrack fencing , you must not enter a station if another train is stopped there. Now we just re did 80th ave last year with a tunnel and intertrack fencing. Still cant do it there.Why? You got me and I work here.

You guys forgot some spots on the Rock where we have one platform for two tracks, BI Vermont and 99th on the Sub. Always love seeing passengers standing out on the main line waiting for us to pull in. Just to get that coveted seat.