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 justalurker66
Projects to watch in 2011

Catenary Replacement
10.4 track miles are to be completed in 2011 which includes the 2 miles of street running in Michigan City. When completed NICTD will have new catenary from the Roeske Avenue bridge in Michigan City to MP 75.4 immediately east of Kensington, totaling 68.9 miles. The line will be closed between Dune Park and South Bend to allow this work to be completed (last year's work ended east of the substation at Furnessville just east of Dune Park).

Closure dates: (Updated as of March 2nd - dates below are 2:30 a.m. Saturday thru 3:00 a.m. Monday) ---
April 2-4, May 14-16, June 4-6, June 18-20, July 16-18, July 23-25, July 30-August 1, August 13-15, August 27-29, September 10-12, September 24-26

Beverly Shores, both Michigan City stations, Hudson Lake and South Bend are the only stations affected by these closures.
The Catenary Maintenance Vehicle strings new wire just west of SR 49 at Dune Park in October 2010.

Centralized Traffic Control [CTC]
The Centralized Traffic Control [CTC] Phase 3 [Carroll Avenue to Grandview] project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2011. This project will provide remote, power operated and heated switches at Birchim and Olive sidings.

Update as of March 1st: The construction crews have installed all the new signals up to but not at Grandview. At last check they were working on crossing signals near the Olive siding. While it was expected, and noted in board meeting minutes, that CTC would be in place between Michigan City and Birchim in the fall of 2010 the line remains ABS using the old signals in most locations.
The old gates at Olive Rd in Lydick go up after a South Shore train has passed (2-10-11). The crossing in the background is on the NS Chicago line.
Note the new signals do not yet have gates installed.

Kensington Interlocking Project
The physical connection between the CN-IC and Metra north of the Kensington platform has yet to be installed - along with the new signaling which will replace the tri-light (triangular pattern) signals currently controlling the interlocking. The new route is planned to be placed into service by June, 2011.

Update as of February 19th: Signal maintainers were working in a pit between the METRA tracks and CN-IC track 1 just north of the Kensington station platform (trains were single tracked on METRA track 1 to give them room to work).
Workers in a pit between the METRA and CN-IC tracks north of Kensington station (2-19-11).

Updates appreciated ... especially from METRA Electric commuters who will see the work complete at Kensington over the next 3-4 months.
  by justalurker66
JLJ061 wrote:I'm still curious to see how they plan to run constant-tension catenary through the street running section of Michigan City, unless they plan to make it one continuous section through town?
We should find out in July. :)

BTW: I made a run over to South Bend to see what progress was made this week on new crossing signals (all of the new train signals are in place but not operational west of Grandview and last I saw they were working on crossings from Pine Rd to Tulip Rd). I was surprised to find their work compound where they park their trucks overnight and store supplies practically empty. Just a couple of high rail trucks with all the diggers and crew vans gone.

I found the vehicles back at Michigan City where the crew is working on the three crossings west of Carroll Ave (and may have completed the 4th ... it has new signals but I don't recall if they were there before). There are several other crossings west of shops that are still using old signals (physical bells and old design). Does anyone know the extent of the "west of Shops" work? It appears the CTC project may be held up while they do this other signal work (or perhaps the MC crossing signals were part of the CTC project?).

I also saw a false activation at Willard Avenue ... lights but no bell (broken?). I suspect the wet weather was shorting things out again - although the train signals at Sheridan and 10th St (both visible from Willard) were not lit. Gotta get out of that street.
  by justalurker66
CP 32.2 Eastbound
The crossing signals on Carroll Ave have been replaced and a new signal stand has been installed just west of Carroll Ave (no signal heads yet) which will apparently control the eastbound entrance to shops (currently controlled by an "End CTC" sign near that location).

The old former ABS signal being used as CP 32.2 Westbound remains in place. I suspect that will change. The contrast between that old "one boot wide ladder" signal and the new signal stands with work platforms at each signal level is strong. I would not be surprised to see the diamond converted to CTC. As for the crossings west of Carroll Ave, the new crossing signal supports are now all in place. (No changes to note east of shops.)

Kensington Interlocking
No changes to note. I keep hoping to hear about trackwork at Kensington. It appears that there is at least one turnout panel track to the east of the station along the far side of the ROW - but that may not be for this project.
  by justalurker66
South Bend Signalling
Olive Siding is now using it's new signals instead of the old mainline signals. Still ABS but the old signals are gone.

Odd - but the compound near Olive that the signal crew had worked out of before moving back to Michigan City is being taken apart. There are still several road crossing signals to replace between Walnut Rd and Grandview - many of them do not have their concrete base in the ground. Without that compound the heavy equipment will need to be trucked in from Michigan City (unless a new compound is being built closer to South Bend).
  by justalurker66
Weekend One
One guess where this photo was taken ...

It seemed to be the place to be Saturday Afternoon - but the railfans present stayed out of each other's shots (and out of the way of the workers, of course) and enjoyed a close up look at the catenary vehicle as it passed the historic Beverly Shores station. A nice sunny day to watch the crew string wire.

YouTube HD video of the vehicle in action, including a closeup of the deck as the wire was being connected to one of the cantenary arms.
  by justalurker66
JLJ061 wrote:Pretty cool video. From what it looks like the crew attaches the messenger wire, hangers and contact wire at the same time, then comes back and attaches the steady arms later?
On the pass shown the hangers were simple loops ... nothing permanent and nothing that a train could contact. The next pass is the one where they would put permanent ties between the two wires, forming the catenary arc on the messenger wire and making the contact wire level above the rails. The positioning arms will also be installed on the next pass (which should be occurring today).

Left: Temporary hanger installed Saturday
Right: Permanent hanger (this one is at Dune Park)

I need to find or take a better photo of a permanent hanger to show the way the hanger wire is fit in to the grooves on the contact wire to create a relatively smooth surface.
  by jayo
JLJ061 wrote:I'm still curious to see how they plan to run constant-tension catenary through the street running section of Michigan City, unless they plan to make it one continuous section through town?
Aren't they planning to abandon it altogether in favor of an alignment on private right of way? So they shouldn't even bother...
  by justalurker66
Kensington Interlocking
I managed to make it over Kensington today and was rewarded by seeing catenary support poles in place along the new path through the interlocking. Two are spans across three of the CN-IC lines, the rest are single arms (inverted Ls) extending over the track that NICTD will use. No crossover in place yet, but there are a lot of ties lined up for the track work.

Just north of 113th St there are support bases on both sides of the entire eight track ROW. It looks like a new signal bridges spanning all eight tracks are being put in. Only one of the vertical beams is up so it looks like it will take another trip to see how it shapes up. It appears there will be two spans just north of 113th St and one replacing/extending the 14-21 signal bridge.

Michigan City
The crew is still working on new signals there. Several dwarf signals have been installed in the past couple of weeks including ones on both ends of the "dock" siding and on the east ends of CY-0 (the former main now car yard track) and CY-1. The work continues on the west end of shops at the Nickel Plate crossing.
  by justalurker66
From NICTD's News Page ...

For your safety and convenience NICTD will begin reconstructing the platform near the warming shelter on April 27, 2011. The warming shelter will be closed during the project. Please use the platform entrance located adjacent to the General Office Building near the ticket vending machines.

The new platform should be ready for use on May 7.

Thank you for your patience.


Beginning May 2, 2011 NICTD will begin the Gary Metro Center Platform Rehabilitation Project. The project will include a new platform deck along with benches and windbreaks. We will reuse the existing canopy.

The platform will remain open during construction by dividing the work into four separate phases. For your safety please use caution as you walk on the platform. Phase 1 will take approximately 2-3 weeks and require the temporary closure of the escalator. When work shifts to the east half of the platform the stairs leading to Broadway will temporarily close.

We expect the project to be completed in early August. Thank you for your patience.
I noticed on my trip on Saturday that gravel has been put down on the east end of the Carol Ave platform across the main line to allow people to board westbound trains before they pull through the construction area. (This end of the platform is normally only used for South Bend trains.)

Note Gary's new platform is a simple "repaving" ... not a high level platform.
  by justalurker66
The new platform (all concrete, matching the platform extension added a few years ago) at Carroll Ave looks good. The signalling crew has been working at Carroll Ave as well with bases for the new diamond signals in place. No new WB signal yet (or dwarfs at the diamond) but the bases are waiting for the signals to be added.

The new (not in service) EB signal at 32.2 has been changed. The original install in March had a two light over one light arrangement ... which would not have allowed for a "clear" signal. Apparently the designer changed their mind. A three light signal has replaced the two light signal.

New arms hold up the old catenary from where the new wire ended in April to east of Tamarack. The wire should be replaced in next weekend's service outage.
  by justalurker66
New signals have been placed (not in service) at Carroll Ave to cover the diamond ... with more to come.

Nothing new to note at Kensington ... I believe there is another new catenary pole in place but no new connection (yet).

The catenary project continues with another 1.8 miles under construction (ending east Pines near the hotel on US12).
  by JLJ061
Was out that way yesterday to try and document the wire crews working, but got washed out by the rain instead. :(

I did see the new signals put up at Carroll Ave and the CSS/NICD diamond, any idea how long until they're in service?
  by CTCRailFan#1
Was out on the east end of the CTC project this weekend despite the rain and there was a lot of work going on. The contractor removed the existing crossing house from Walnut Rd. and put the new house and flashers into service. Additional the existing signal west of the road crossing was retired and a new signal was put into service. (The NS was also out with ballast regualtors and track crews on the track running parallel to the NICTD line, it appears they were re-surfacing grade crossings through the area.

The contractor working on the CTC system also commissioned the new crossing house and flashers at the 425E grade crossing.
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