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 ohioriverrailway
 
I realize there are probably 8 million reasons/excuses as to why it can't happen, but after sitting and sitting on #29 between SOB and CHI, and seeing the non-electrified South Shore track that runs into the Amtrak station at SOB, I keep thinking: Gee, wouldn't it be nice if Amtrak could run on the South Shore between SOB and somewhere just outside of Chicago? Has to be better than sitting, and sitting, sitting.........
  by justalurker66
 
ohioriverrailway wrote:I realize there are probably 8 million reasons/excuses as to why it can't happen, but after sitting and sitting on #29 between SOB and CHI, and seeing the non-electrified South Shore track that runs into the Amtrak station at SOB, I keep thinking: Gee, wouldn't it be nice if Amtrak could run on the South Shore between SOB and somewhere just outside of Chicago? Has to be better than sitting, and sitting, sitting.........
A connection would need to be built in South Bend (the old one was removed years ago) ... and the trains could theoretically run all the way to Kensington in Chicago then take the CN-IC north (the new NICTD connector track would make that easier - and proposed changes in Chicago would help get those trains to Union Station).

It is not as far fetched as it may seem.

The issues would be the long stretches of single track ... and the ability of Amtrak to keep a schedule that has nothing to do with SOB to CHI. Delays due to train turns (for eastbound trains) or east of SOB (for westbound trains) could interrupt the NICTD schedule. The issues with street running in Michigan City will eventually be solved. But Amtrak is also working on the line approaching Chicago and things will get better ... better enough that using the NICTD line would be more trouble than it is worth.
  by Tadman
 
I've been advocating such for years. I can't believe we're spending money to build a passenger main on NS west of Porter when we have a almost all double track passenger main owned by the state about a mile north. After doing a little research (speaking to some high ranking birdies) the answer is, the South Shore needs total double track west of MC to handle Amtrak in addition to current electric trains and freight. The feds didn't want to pay for such, or at least they couldn't agree on terms. Ergo, we have the current situation. We can drop $130m to buy NS's almost-worthless empty freight line from Dearborn to Kzoo, but we can't lay 20 miles of main from Michigan City to Emerson. Go figure...

Given that the NICTD group is quite effective at running lots of trains and reinvesting in the property, it seems to me like the feds are the ones that are hard to work with in this case.

Also, if you want railroader proof that the CSS-IC routing to downtown works well, see EspeeMike's recent comments over in the Amtrak forum, Hoosier State thread. He states that, as a former engineer on the Hoosier/Cardinal, it's far faster to get downtown via the CNIC detour (GTW to Harvey, IC to downtown, SCAL to Union Station) than the usual route up the UP through Dolton.

A rebuild/redirect of the SCAL bridge might not make sense just for a few southern Illinois trains and the CNO, but all eastern trains? 5 Michigan trains, 3 east coast trains, 3 corridor trains, and CNO? That's 12 trains/day.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote:A rebuild/redirect of the SCAL bridge might not make sense just for a few southern Illinois trains and the CNO, but all eastern trains? 5 Michigan trains, 3 east coast trains, 3 corridor trains, and CNO? That's 12 trains/day.
The current CREATE plan is to build the Grand Crossing roller coaster to connect CN-IC to NS and provide a route into Union Station. (Northbound trains going to the east side of the alignment, up and over the MED on an existing abandoned bridge, down and under the Skyway and possibly the NS line then up to the NS Chicago Line grade level.)

I would not mind seeing SCAL turn north to reach Union Station, but such construction is unlikely and other options exist.

Double track NICTD from Emerson to Power would be a great addition. Most of the ROW is clear - but the 4.1 miles between Emerson and Wagner would likely cost so much more than the other 11.7 miles of single track needing upgrade that it would not be cost effective. Perhaps as NICTD gets money they can work from Michigan City west extending the double track as far as they can - but there are other projects that need funding.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman: I'm still torn on whether the South Shore or the Michigan Central would be best for Amtrak's eastern access. The South Shore has a longer route to avoid NS congestion, and it would solve the Michigan City problem of a non-shared station. But, Amtrak has shown it doesn't (EDIT: and can't) always play well with others - maybe the Michigan Central from Porter to Kensington would be better with Amtrak as the prime tenant. Either way, the current NS route is shortest but most congested, and I don't see it as the best option for Amtrak.
  by justalurker66
 
The Michigan Central would be a good bypass but it would require track upgrades and restoration of the connection to Kensington. The path is still there.

The money is already being spent on the NS ... With that investment being made it makes it harder to abandon those improvements and follow another path. Perhaps decades from now when a new HSR path is needed they might swing south along the Michigan Central to connect the Michigan Line with Chicago.