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
 
Has Metra ever considered running trains through downtown and back out in the other direction? Now that reverse commutes are fairly common, it might be a good idea. Further, some of the eastern commuter systems are taking on more of a "regional" concept and doing the same.

The easiest would be to run a MILW-N train through CUS and out to Aurora or down to Orland Park, but given the SCAL and the MILW/UP connection at Western, you could get creative in linking lines, even just for a few run-throughs/day, if demand was there.

thoughts?
  by lstone19
 
I just can't see it working logistically. The capacity is not there (unlike Philadelphia where through-routing solves a capacity problem).
All of the connections are capacity constrained. UP/MD? The double-slips that connect them are only on MD track 3. An EB UP to MD move cannot get off 3 until Morgan. An EB MD to UP move needs to be on 3 from A-5.
Now look at the CUS run-through tracks. Usually the EB is sitting on 19 (sometimes 17) through PM rush-hour with a Hiawatha on the other until 5:08. You can come through 21 but that only gets you to 28 or 30 on the south side and an HC train is loading on one of them (usually 30) most of the PM rush. And even if the other is usually clear, I suspect Amtrak is usually one delay away from needing it. And having my morning train twice arrive on 19 last week says it doesn't take much going wrong for Metra to need to use Amtrak tracks on the north side (plus last night, Metra had to use 17 for a departure after an earlier train laid down and died blocking 1, 3, and 5).
Plus, as constrained as CUS is, it's actually set up well to avoid a lot of intermixing of Amtrak and Metra passengers (excluding the HC trains using Amtrak tracks). Metra passengers, walking from the Loop, largely enter from the river side with escalators bringing them down to the west side where the Metra tracks are. Meanwhile, Amtrak passengers, more likely to be using cabs or Thruway buses, enter from Canal St. whose escalators bring them down by the Amtrak ticket counter and Amtrak departure lounge entrance. Reverse for arrivals although Amtrak arrivals aren't as strongly separated.
SCAL? Not without changing directions or skipping CUS.
  by doepack
 
I think the first HC arrival in the morning (train 914, gets in at 6:50) could then be flipped west for a turn on MDW as an express heading out to Itasca or Schaumburg; with a reverse trip in the afternoon. Despite the struggling economy, the market potential could still have possibilities, and would be very beneficial to city residents with jobs within the NW Cook County industrial corridor which this train would serve. Compliment the service with Pace shuttle bus service between the station(s) and the various office parks and off you go. The only hitch I can see would be finding a window for the train to use 19 or 21 on its return trip in the afternoon, it could run up against inbound Amtrak 8, and/or one of the Hiawathas. That could be tricky...
  by lstone19
 
We already have a 6:48 "express" to Roselle, except it's a deadhead. If the demand was there, wouldn't it already be carrying passengers?

The biggest objection I have to run-throughs is it's a lot of risk for little reward. It adds complexity and when things go wrong, the impact is larger. In late 2011 we had the morning where CN piled up a train Spaulding. Although Metra does flip a couple of sets between the MD-N and W, the damage was largely contained to the MD-W and let the other lines run on auto-pilot while Metra came up with a contingency plan for the West.
  by doepack
 
lstone19 wrote:We already have a 6:48 "express" to Roselle, except it's a deadhead. If the demand was there, wouldn't it already be carrying passengers?
Duly noted. But the point I was trying to make was that I don't believe Metra has ever even made an attempt to tap the market, with at least experimenting with the current deadhead just to see if there was demand potential. Then maybe a through-route from HC wouldn't be necessary after all...
lstone19 wrote:The biggest objection I have to run-throughs is it's a lot of risk for little reward. It adds complexity and when things go wrong, the impact is larger. In late 2011 we had the morning where CN piled up a train Spaulding. Although Metra does flip a couple of sets between the MD-N and W, the damage was largely contained to the MD-W and let the other lines run on auto-pilot while Metra came up with a contingency plan for the West.
Wasn't that the day a HC set "pinch hit" on the MDN line, since some North line equipment was sent west to help cover some of the service?
  by lstone19
 
doepack wrote:
lstone19 wrote:The biggest objection I have to run-throughs is it's a lot of risk for little reward. It adds complexity and when things go wrong, the impact is larger. In late 2011 we had the morning where CN piled up a train Spaulding. Although Metra does flip a couple of sets between the MD-N and W, the damage was largely contained to the MD-W and let the other lines run on auto-pilot while Metra came up with a contingency plan for the West.
Wasn't that the day a HC set "pinch hit" on the MDN line, since some North line equipment was sent west to help cover some of the service?
Not that day. That first HC set has gone north on at least two occasions to cover for a mechanical. But in those cases, the problem set and its crew made it to CUS so you had a crew at CUS to take it.

On the day of the Spaulding derailment, there were no crews at CUS who could take it. With all crews working out of Elgin, they were stuck west of the derailment along with their trains. Until about 7:30, every crew that arrives CUS goes right back out with the same equipment. Unless the HC crew is also qualified on the MD, there's no one to take it.
  by AMTK347
 
I have posted videos on Youtube of the HC cabcar ride on the MDN between Deerfield to when I ran out of memory around Rondout/Libertyville :
part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR5i19Zy6WU
part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBs-iCXL7a0
part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsGNG8ERYd4 (was running out of memory at this point)
part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuBeF1j0Duc