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 JLJ061
 
justalurker66 wrote:Track 2 (to the right in the photo) is missing the overhead wire. NICTD is single tracked from Gary to Dune Park on track 1 while the work is being done.
Looks like the power line crossbeams are also missing, and with the new fiber optic poles next to the older catenary bridges leads me to believe these will also soon be replaced.
  by justalurker66
 
Here are a couple of "after" shots taken near CP 51.5 (which was upgraded during the May weekend line closing).
Image
The "Ideal" section with wires no longer on the old supports.

Image
A closer shot showing the pulleys used to allow the wires to be stretched between anchor points and the counterweights (not yet installed east of Gary).


I'm surprised that NICTD took the entire segment out of service. I expected them to finish work up to and including the CP 51.5 crossover so they would have a passing segment there. At this point there is no passing from CP 58.1 Emerson to CP 43.7 Dune Park (which would be awkward for electric trains as the siding bypasses the platform). It looks like they will have CP 51.5 back in service within the next few days. The crossing at County Line Rd (Porter/Lake Counties) has a sign stating it will be closed toward the end of the 16 days for repaving. (There is MOW equipment spread out practically the entire length of Wilson to Wagner.)
  by justalurker66
 
justalurker66 wrote:NICTD has announced delays on their eastbound and weekend trains from June 1st-17th so I expected to see some construction. It looks like they had today off but evidence of work done earlier this week was obvious (as shown above).
Construction has been extended to June 24th with a note on the website mentioning track 2 at "Wilson Siding" being out of service.

Nasty day of weather ... Metra had problems at 23rd St that added 30 minutes to their trains and caused NICTD trains to leave Metra up to an hour late. Damage east of Michigan City is causing bus replacements for the evening trains to and from South Bend.
  by justalurker66
 
Looks like a couple more busy weeks of repairs/upgrades along the line ...

TEMPORARY MID-DAY BUSING & OTHER CONSTRUCTION RELATED NEWS

July 12-16 and 19-23
Busing eastbound Train 107 between Gary Metro Center and Michigan City. Expect possible delays of up to 20 minutes to westbound Train 20. The South Shore will have Track 1 out of service along Wilson Siding between Miller and Dune Park in order to accommodate replacement and upgrade of our overhead power distribution system.

July 17-18 and 24-25
Expect weekend train delays between Dune Park and Gary Metro Center because of the upgrade to our overhead power distribution system.

July 12-13 and 22-23
Busing the following mid-day trains between Carroll Ave. and Dune Park:
Westbound Eastbound
Train 116 Train 7
Train 18 Train 9
Train 118 Train 109
Train 20
Busing on July 12-13 is for track maintenance along 10th St. in Michigan City; July 22-23 is for grade crossing improvements over Michigan Blvd in Michigan City. Expect delays of approximately 20-30 minutes when busing. Please arrive at your departing station on time in the event delays are shorter than expected.
  by justalurker66
 
I had a chance to take a drive yesterday evening and the construction projects seem to be going well. New wire up the entire length of the double track "Wilson to Wagner" (Ogden Dunes). Track 1 still has the temporary hanger loops on it so not quite finished. But trains can pass on the segment between CP 54 and CP 51.5.

According to the NICTD website news page the August 7-8th line closing is canceled ... The Great Lakes Super Boat Grand Prix is in Michigan City that weekend and it appears that would be a bad weekend to not have trains. One other note from the webpage ... Amtrak will stop three additional Wolverine trains in Michigan City each day on the upcoming closure weekends. Last I checked one could book tickets on the August 7-8 weekend. More expensive but people can get there (if Union Station counts as "there").

There were a lot of people waiting for Chicago bound trains yesterday evening when I drove past. Looks like a lot of people still getting out and on the trains.

Michigan St in Michigan City is torn up at the rail crossing and westbound the detour isn't obvious. Eastbound the detour is simple but the residential streets are tight.

The CTC project east of Michigan City is progressing. I've noticed new signals at seven locations eastward to Birchim so far with the signals at Birchim still being installed. The west end of Birchim siding looks like a challenging place to get equipment for digging and hoisting. Will rail based equipment be used there instead of the regular diggers? The signals being placed will make Birchim a regular passing segment like Tamarack and Tremont. I'm expecting the same at Olive but construction has not got that far yet.

LaPorte County still hasn't finished their roads under the CR 200E and CR300E bridges replaced last year ... although it appears locals are just driving right through the mud. The "low clearance" signs are still up as well for the old 10'2" and 12' high bridges that have not been there since November.

I have not made it to Kensington to see if anything noticeable happened there in the past month or so. CN was working on their part of the interlocking switches at the beginning of June.
  by justalurker66
 
justalurker66 wrote:I have not made it to Kensington to see if anything noticeable happened there in the past month or so. CN was working on their part of the interlocking switches at the beginning of June.
I got to Kensington last weekend - there are several new concrete bases between CN/IC tracks 1 and 2 and to the east of track 4. It looks like new structures will extend across the three CN/IC tracks at intervals all the way from the point where Metra's four tracks end south to where NICTD's tracks finish crossing the CN/IC. CN/IC track 1 is practically overgrown with grass at the station.

On the CTC project east of Michigan City - the new signals at Birchim (east end of the passing siding) are not only in place but lit! The new CP signals on the main line have been tied in to the existing ABS system with bags over the lower signal heads. One of the crossing lights has also been replaced. (At most crossings Michigan City to Birchim the new signs and support poles are up without lights with the old crossing signals remaining in place to protect the crossing. At Birchim the northbound road signal has been completely replaced with a new fixture. The new fixtures have electronic "bells" on the top of the mast ... one per crossing ... instead of mechanical bells on each crossing sign.)
  by JLJ061
 
justalurker66 wrote:On the CTC project east of Michigan City - the new signals at Birchim (east end of the passing siding) are not only in place but lit! The new CP signals on the main line have been tied in to the existing ABS system with bags over the lower signal heads. One of the crossing lights has also been replaced. (At most crossings Michigan City to Birchim the new signs and support poles are up without lights with the old crossing signals remaining in place to protect the crossing. At Birchim the northbound road signal has been completely replaced with a new fixture. The new fixtures have electronic "bells" on the top of the mast ... one per crossing ... instead of mechanical bells on each crossing sign.)
Good thing I got a pic back in May of the signal at Meer Road, with the teardrop bell. In the pic the new signal foundation was already in place.
Image

I was able to get some video of the new installation at Birchim (until the conductor got in my way!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRfyuJMFb0

Then riding to Hammond on Monday on Train 116 I was able to get some video of the new catenary installation from Wilson west; Alas, the steel catenary bridges where Wagner used to be no longer serve as supports.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtbCmjYbzB8
  by justalurker66
 
JLJ061 wrote:I was able to get some video of the new installation at Birchim (until the conductor got in my way!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRfyuJMFb0

Then riding to Hammond on Monday on Train 116 I was able to get some video of the new catenary installation from Wilson west; Alas, the steel catenary bridges where Wagner used to be no longer serve as supports.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtbCmjYbzB8
Nice pics and video ... thanks for sharing.

Birchim is being used as a base of operations for the signal crews ... which makes it a more sensitive area - and an area where people are present during working hours. My photos there are from the ground (including my avatar -> taken last November).


BTW: The precast bases that they are using for the new signals and crossing protection ... I originally saw them when delivered in Michigan City (in the triangle between Carroll Ave, the NICTD line and the CSS former NS line) and at Birchim. They were then distributed along the line. Most are now planted but there seems to be spares at certain crossings. The crossing at Royal Rd had not been touched when I was last there. The rest of the crossings have new crossing light posts (everything but the lights) installed. The two crossings without lights between Michigan City and Birchim (stop signs only) have crossing signal bases installed. I have not seen any of the precast bases distributed east of Birchim.

Other than Royal Rd, it appears the only thing left Michigan City to Birchim is the CTC signals west end of the passing siding. I'm wondering that once these two locations are finished if NICTD will cut over to the new signals in ABS mode before moving on to installing new signals to the east. This would break the project into three segments.
  by justalurker66
 
Signal upgrades continue between Michigan City and Birchim ... it appears that nothing will be done east of Birchim this year. The crews are working on putting the new crossing signals in service and removing the old ones.

One surprise for me ... there are two crossings between Michigan City and Birchim that were guarded only by stop signs put up by LaPorte County. Pictures taken yesterday show major improvements at those crossings:
Image
400 W - Awaiting arm installation

Image
Range Rd (near Tee Lake Substation)

Seems odd that these two crossings go from virtually nothing to complete setups with gates and overhead lights. I'd like to see complete setups on more crossings.


Also LaPorte County finally finished and opened their road under the South Shore at 300e ... the rest of 300e is returning to dirt but the section with the South Shore bridge is doing well.
Image
300 E

Note the signal to the right in the photo. This is the new intermediate signal one west of Birchim. One head for westbound trains (next signal at Tee Lake) and two heads for eastbound trains (next signal is the west end of Birchim - the second head is needed for the approach diverging signal when CTC is in place).

As a reminder, this is the old 300e bridge that was replaced (new bridge is waiting behind the old bridge in this construction photo).
Image
  by justalurker66
 
CR200 E under the South Shore is open again - although most of the "road closed" signs are still up. It looks about the same as the CR300 E crossing above but with a shorter stretch of new road.

Springville Rd's new gates are installed and in service. I expect someone here has a good picture of them. I saw a railfan leaving just after an eastbound train passed.
  by justalurker66
 
From coverage of NICTD's Board Meeting last Friday ...
On another matter, Hanas said although its implementation plan has been approved, NICTD temporarily has on hold a difficult mandate to install a GPS-assisted positive train control system to prevent train-on-train collisions.

Deadline is December 2015 and the cost to NICTD could range from $35 million to $50 million. Hanas said aspects of the PTC system are too experimental at this time to commit to a specific hardware/software configuration and radio system.

PTC was federally mandated nationwide following the deadly 2008 head-on collision of freight and commuter trains in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles, CA.
http://chestertontribune.com/Northwest% ... ice_hi.htm

The current projects (Kensington, catenary replacement and South Bend CTC) are reported as going well.
  by justalurker66
 
Video of the Catenary Maintenance Vehicle in action earlier today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lssVSKkzNU

The crew is really working along the line fast. They have removed and restring wire all the way to the SR 49 bridge just west of Dune Park. Tomorrow they will be out putting the hanger wire on between the catenary span and contact wire. The work can be easily viewed from the Calumet trail (access from Dune Acres or Dune Park parking lots).

This year's portion of the project is supposed to end at Dune Park (with trains next year truncated at Dune Park instead of Gary Metro). They have two more weekends to finish up but at this pace I wonder if they will need both of them.

In other news: The new signals on the west end of Birchim are now part of the current ABS system. The east end signals were integrated previously. Stop signs are down at both of the new crossing gate crossings noted earlier in the thread. All crossing lights from Karwick Rd to Bircham have been replaced except one at Birchim and the two on the CR west of Birchim.

[EDIT: Updated video to include natural sound.]
  by JLJ061
 
Very cool video. I tried to get out there yesterday to see them in action but couldn't get close enough since they were between Dune Acres and Port Chester at the time. From what I saw the project is completed at Bailly Road, the wire was loosely strung at Dune Acres and only new brackets installed at Port Chester.

At the rate they're working I kinda figured they should make it all the way to at least Beverly Shores by year's end!
  by justalurker66
 
JLJ061 wrote:Very cool video. I tried to get out there yesterday to see them in action but couldn't get close enough since they were between Dune Acres and Port Chester at the time. From what I saw the project is completed at Bailly Road, the wire was loosely strung at Dune Acres and only new brackets installed at Port Chester.
Prior to this weekend the new wire ended somewhere near Bailey. The Dune Acres crossing had old wire over it which was taken down this weekend. The Calumet trail is public ... one can walk or bike between Dune Acres and Port Chester (Dune Park) along the Calumet Trail which runs under the high voltage lines. It was raining a little when I got there ... and raining more when I left (or I would have had more video). I parked at Dune Park in the Calumet Trail parking area and my wife and I walked about 2/3rds of the way down the Calumet Trail toward Dune Park to capture that video. (At about 50 seconds in you can hear me almost get hit by two bicyclists. I was looking at the train not the trail.) Later in the day we drove to Dune Park and I watched the crew finishing up stringing the wire past Port Chester (up to the SR49 bridge at Dune Park).

With two more weekends to go and one weekend already canceled I didn't expect to see them get this far. The next closure should be able to cover the section through Dune Park station to Tremont. The last weekend will get them to Furnessville Substation ... which makes sense. They need to get that far so they can have the catenary at Dune Park energized next year during the outages. They can't terminate trains at Dune Park unless the catenary from Furnessville west remains energized. That puts them right back on schedule.

That leaves them with seven miles to Michigan City to be done in 10 weekends next year? I'm assuming the work will stop at CP 35.2 Sheridan leaving 35.2 to 32.2 for the future when NICTD has approval to change the routing through Michigan City.