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 Otto Vondrak
Your lowly Creative Director needs help. I'm flying into Chicago to attend a conference at Lake Forest on April 17... hoping to arrive early enough to attempt this photo angle with TR107...


How easy is it to get in and out of here? I'm driving from Midway to a local garage near the Museum and hoofing it over, hoping to be on the overpass by 10:00am.

Then I'm going to try to get to Hegewisch for TR9 at 110pm.

Then I'm heading to Michigan City to catch TR118 at 2:41 snaking down the middle of the street.

Then I'm heading back towards Chicago, maybe stopping at Hammond to shoot TR218.

Too ambitious? Are they going to change the timetable before I get out there? :-) I've only been to Chicago once before, and only spent a few hours around Union Station between connections. But I'm a fast learner.

  by Tadman
Give midway-downtown 1 hour, even though it can be done in much less. Inbound traffic in AM is unpredictable.

You can make Hegewisch in 45-60 minutes no problem, especially at that time of day. Get there early, grab some BK from just down the street. A freight drag pulls out of Burnham Yard for interchange to IC somewhere between 12:30 and 1p, and it's quite a show because three little GP38's are pulling like hell to make the hill over NS(NKP). Give an hour to make Michigan City from Hegewisch. Take US-12 after Gary and enjoy paralleling NS and CSS.
  by PRRGuy
I couldn't have said it better Tadman, Thanks for the information.

Otto, I hope you enjoy shooting our little railroad. There is a chance that Tr #107 may be equipped with the new Bi-Level cars by the time you arrive. Right now they are on Trains #116 (WB) and 109 (EB) so keep an eye out for them. Since most likely I'll be working that day I'll keep an eye out for you too!

Ryan (Nictd Engineer)
  by Otto Vondrak
PRRGuy wrote:Since most likely I'll be working that day I'll keep an eye out for you too!
Thanks, Ryan! I'll be the confused guy from New York with the camera round his neck. Can't miss me. Thanks for the tip on the freight, I'd love to catch the South Shore GP38s...

  by Tadman
If you want geeps, they're pretty much guaranteed to be at Burnham yard, just over Burnham Ave from Hegewisch station, then pulling west as I pointed out. Other than that, they might be switching Mittal, off US-12 - park near the east gate and walk to the tracks. You can also photograph Lake Michigan and Indiana, the plant switching road that also connects CSS and NS at Mittal.

In this map, the LM&I yard is visible, the South Shore is a single track in the middle, and US-12 is at bottom right.
http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&F ... &encType=1
  by buddah
Hey Otto...
I think your plan to catch the SS is a pretty good one just don't forget to get some shots of the Michigan city Shops, and Im pretty sure I know whats going through your head "Metra is nice and all but I can see the same type of action in NY the South Shore line is so unique !" . Where else can you see street running at its finest, its a wonderful site to see it in the midwest nothing out East I know of compares. One place id suggest is off S. Torrance AVE. and 130th st.
Really nice shot when you can get a CSS cruising over the top and a NS freight underneath. Its not to far from Hammond. Enjoy MY windy city (home) and bring a good jacket no matter what the weather man says!

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&F ... &encType=1

http://maps.google.ca/?ie=UTF8&ll=41.65 ... 5000000003
  by Otto Vondrak
Upon further review... I may curtail my ambitious plans for something a bit less taxing. I may try to cover the South Shore in Illinois and maybe as far east as Gary... I'm worried about keeping such a hectic schedule and also trying to get back to Lake Forest and drive through Chicago during Friday evening traffic... I may just "save" the South Shore street running for this summer and really dedicate some time to it!

How are the shots on the Illinois side?
  by Tadman
What time do you have to be in Lake Forest? I'd give it three hours to get to Lake Forest to be safe, and turn on AM780 for "traffic and weather together" on the :08's. Further, buy a cheapo map and familiarize yourself with the two ways from MC to LF - go thru downtown Chicago on I-94 or go around on I-294. It's a crapshoot to guess which is best more than an hour ahead. Your adventure as-planned is not impossible, as long as you don't have to be into LF until mid-evening. Frankly, the bad traffic doesn't get annoying until almost 5 exactly, by which time you will be right about downtown or slightly north if you leave downtown MC at 3p.

Alternatively, you could drive back to midway, ditch the rental, and ride CTA(orange) and Metra (MILW-N or CNW-N) to LF. Sleep the whole way...
  by buddah
Well Otto... seeing as its a Friday your coming to Chicago traffic is a mess in the early AM mid day is ok free flowing as long as there is no accidents on 80/94 but the downtown area goes to he!! in a hand bag just around 4 pm the rest of the city doesn't go nuts till just about 5 as Tadman has said. It all depends on what time you need to be north.
If your driving Id stay off 80/94 on Friday if you can except for between 10am-3pm, pretty free flowing midday.
Going through the city I-94-90-94 is a pretty good run before 4 pm and its free. just be wary of the traffic in the core it varies form time to time.
Going around the city I 294 is quicker after 4pm, but there are many tolls. Just don't miss a toll both (very easy to do on 294 when your in traffic). However you can pay the toll later online if u do miss the booth. Im not sure how it would work with a rental car as you need to put in credit card number, plate, ownership, time you passed the booth, etc.

OK back to trains.....
If your looking for good spots in Illinois is suggest 115th st. and Kensington station the area ( interlocking) is about to be remodeled and CSS will no longer be stopping there ( or even near the platform) they will be on a flyby track. So might be your last chance to catch one going into that station. It's also a nice spot to catch some Metra electrics. and you can get some nice shots from the ground as well on S. Front ave. http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&F ... &encType=1

The spot I mentioned earlier @ 130th and Torrance. that's still in Illinois just north of Hegewisch and Hammond stations.

All of which is on the south or east Sides, is a rough neighborhood ( I know, I grew up there) buts is OK as long as your visiting in the day time (midday) and before schools gets out at 3 or so... the high school kids are the trouble makers.

Or anywhere downtown you can find a good spot... Good luck Otto and enjoy. PS when do you plan on flying back out? you might have better luck Sat. morning for downtown shots if your flying out lets say around midday Saturday.
  by Otto Vondrak
buddah wrote:Going around the city I 294 is quicker after 4pm, but there are many tolls. Just don't miss a toll both (very easy to do on 294 when your in traffic).
Really? You can "miss" toll booths?
  by MikeF
Otto Vondrak wrote:Really? You can "miss" toll booths?
Unless your rental car comes with an I-Pass, you'll need to make sure you're in the right lanes at toll plazas in order to pay cash.
  by buddah
LOL sadly enough you can, and it happens VERY often, there's a Direct link from the front page directly on IDOT'S tollway website because it happens so often. Best things if you pay it online within I believe its 10 days you only need to pay the toll and there is no fine added. after 10 days you have to pay the fine as well. being from Chicago I Have missed it myself first unintentionally after wards intentional when I found out I could bypass the booth and pay online ! They recently reconstructed 294 and at night, or rain, or traffic , toll booths can easily be missed. Reason being since remodeling I-294 to 5 lines each direction when approaching a toll booth only 1 lane (to the right) veers off towards the booths it opens up to more lanes after it emerges into the booth area, the other 4 lanes continue straight under the I Pass electronic pass and plate reader. The sign telling you were to exit for the booth is right at the split, not a quarter mile ahead like you would expect to give you time to get over. I moved back ( was in Toronto for 3 yrs) after the reconstruction and knew the booth was somewhere in the area but because of the set up I missed one of them the first time back home. EDIT: its now 7 days to pay a missed toll, loophole you can miss it as many times as you want just make sure you pay all of them online within 7 days of each missed toll. I go that route only once a month or so and just pay it online when I get home.

http://www.illinoistollway.com/portal/p ... ema=PORTAL

here's the one I missed, http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... 6&t=h&z=17
  by dinwitty
whatllthey think up now, IPASS, missed boothpay (grabs plate number I bet)

it does speed up the traffic thru however.

If you don't have online banking or no online anything you better line up with cash...8-D
  by Tadman
They do grab your plate number, and you are definitely fined. That was one of those little things I hated dealing with when I ran the Chicago group at the company - making sure everybody had a valid iPass. Rather than chase paperwork over who got fined where, I started mandating any employee traveling on company business buy a new iPass at least every year and turn in the receipt - it seemed to prevent faulty transmitter issues...
  by Otto Vondrak
MikeF wrote:
Otto Vondrak wrote:Really? You can "miss" toll booths?
Unless your rental car comes with an I-Pass, you'll need to make sure you're in the right lanes at toll plazas in order to pay cash.
No problem, New York/New Jersey has toll booths that are set up the same way. But thanks for the warning.