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 Tadman
With all the hubub lately about diesel fumes and how they do/don't cause cancer for Metra riders, it's no surprise Metra is measuring their air quality. Today a man was seated in a lawn chair next to track 4 at Randolph Terminal, with a giant box reading: "Metra Air Quality Checking". It is a surprise they're on the platform at Randolph... Wonder how much diesel particulate is down there?

That said, the guy did not look like a railroad employee - he was wearing track pants and a dark coat. T&E folks have uniforms, carmen and techs wear hardhats and visi-vests, and station people wear station uniforms. It was a little suspicious.
  by justalurker66
Tadman wrote:Today a man was seated in a lawn chair next to track 4 at Randolph Terminal, with a giant box reading: "Metra Air Quality Checking". It is a surprise they're on the platform at Randolph... Wonder how much diesel particulate is down there?
It would be interesting if they got a high reading ... there are the side doors that vehicle traffic can go past. Circulation would be the issue I'd be concerned about there - that the CO2 was getting out and the air wasn't too stale.
  by doepack
The closest thing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has to a standard for diesel exhaust is 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which the agency defines as a level of average daily exposure that could trigger health problems later in life.

Yet EPA officials acknowledged the agency has done little to track whether people are breathing levels of diesel pollution that exceed the safety limit. Agency scientists also have said they need to better understand the potential health effects of brief but intense exposures.
It's all well and good to expose the damning information about this issue that Metra initially tried to cover up, but by the same token, and in the interest of fairness, more information as per the quote above is also needed; after all, this isn't exactly a new problem. But since, by the EPA's own admission, the entire scope of the problem isn't yet totally understood, the article still reads more like a hit piece with a civic agenda attached to it and less like an article that is genuinely interested in gathering all of the facts first before presenting its case...
  by doepack
Metra to get federal funds that will allow minor modifications to some locomotives in order to reduce emissions...
PAC 231: Interesting article about the old Chicago post office and the S side Union Station exhaust problems...

I remember seeing how closed in that area was and I also remember from my visits how noisy it was to be
standing on the platform under the PO between two trainsets with F40s going at full tilt on both sides of you...

Hopefully they can be a resolution to this problem for Metra and Amtrak...

  by Tadman
Thanks, The honorable Dick Durbin, for hosting a news conference and taking credit for something an entirely different branch of government did. Not that such action surprises me.

What a jerk... Besides, a "ruling" does nothing. There were prior laws or contracts requiring the post office owners to keep the ventilation going, and that didn't do much good. I don't know what another ruling is going to do other than generate more paperwork. It's obvious from the recent fire(s) in the ventilation system that something has to be done, but Durbin's news conferences about the actions of the judicial branch don't do much.

When do they give up and tear down the post office?
  by dinwitty
going electric. Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT) cut off all steam engines outside and ran the trains in using electric. I wonder about the Post Office, pumping the air becomes a service to the station and the trains and maybe should be compensated for maintaining the ventilation system than being sued.
That can stand up in court.
But if the ventilation system is tied to the post offices own system, well...whatever.

If its getting like this its time to go like the IC and El did...electrify.
  by Tadman
I'm a bit surprised they've never tried to electrify the RI and BN lines, given their traffic density.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
The operation of the ventilation system over the tracks beneath the post office could be a requirement in the deed for the air rights that were given to the post office. In that case, it is the fault of the current owners of the post office for knowingly transferring obligations for such a legal agreement to themselves when they bought the building. Theoretically, the owners of the post office could attempt to buy back their "rights" to not provide that ventilation system. If there is no legal obligation, then it would seem that the post office owners are getting screwed.
  by Tadman
I was only implying that the commuter service would be electrified, while freights would continue behind diesels. And of course Metra would have to pay for it. Given the conservative nature of Metra management, it would probably be 1500vDC catenary to match the other electric lines.