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 doepack
Chicago Tribune news: South Shore looks for help to pay for new railcars

April 12, 2006, 11:32 AM CDT

CHESTERTON, Ind. -- A newly formed regional development agency could help
pay for $39 million worth of new railcars for northern Indiana's South Shore
commuter line.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, created by state
lawmakers last year, was designed to oversee major projects in the region,
including Lake Michigan shoreline development, expansion of Gary's airport
and extending South Shore passenger rail service.

South Shore officials on Tuesday asked that the agency pay 20 percent --
$7.8 million -- to help buy a dozen new cars.

"Our capital resources are tapped out; we can't buy additional cars without
this help," said Gerald Hanas, general manager of the railroad's operator,
the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

Higher gasoline prices last year and the start of construction on the Dan
Ryan Expressway just over the Indiana-Illinois border this year are boosting
South Shore ridership to its highest levels in decades, officials say.

The South Bend-to-Chicago commuter line carried 3.8 million passengers in
2005, a 7.3 increase over 2004. So far this year, ridership is up 10.2
percent, officials said.

The railroad is contemplating buying double-decker cars like those used on
Chicago's Metra lines, Hanas said. The railroad plans to "piggy-back" its
purchase on a Metra order to save money.

The South Shore also has requested $31.2 million in federal funds from the
Indiana Department of Transportation for the cars. The money would come out
of $155 million in federal congestion relief funds the state has received.

No U.S. company makes the electric rail cars the South Shore needs, so a
Japanese company will build them, Hanas said.

Hanas emphasized that the new cars are just part of the railroad's plans for
improving service.

Two years ago the South Shore started a $107 million project to upgrade its
signal system and overhead wires.

Copyright © 2006, The Associated Press


  by byte
Hmm ... perhaps this will stop Metra and the state legislature from dragging their feet on the next highliner order. I believe the extended-option contract has been reneweed twice now (and I think expires in July or August) and I don't Nippon-Sharyo giving them too many more.

  by dinwitty
yo, looks like the expansion is looking more real.