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 AMTK84
I don't know if this had anything to do with tonights insident at Park, but there was a new dispatcher in control at the time...

As for this mornings locomotive failure, see the "locomotive and asignment maintinence changes" forum for more info.

  by qboy
Park Interlocking over the last couple of weeks has been dropping signals
switches out corrspondence. Signal dept. been out there on and off over that last couple of weeks. Been have that problem out west with another control point.

  by doepack
MetraBNSF wrote:Is it just me, or does it seem that over the past 2 months, there have been a lot of service disruptions affecting various lines? From grade crossing incidents, equipment problems, physical plant problems (signals, switches, track), and hazmat situations, there seems to be a lot happening systemwide and with great frequency. Same can be said with the CTA, but I'll reserve my thoughts for that message board.
I've also noticed that certain kinds of delays seem to happen more often on a partiuclar route. For instance, I'm not sure what's considered a "normal" amount of equipment failures over a given time, but on the UP lines at least, there certainly have been a rash of locomotive failures recently, which is keeping the folks at M19A busy these days. Could be a coincidence, or there could be other factors at work; perhaps AMTK84 might be able to shed some more light on that. Meanwhile, issues with signals and switches seem to happen most often with BNSF, although that's directly related to BNSF's signal improvement project along the Chicago sub, so there's not much that can be done about that except to grin and bear it until all the kinks are worked out.

Grade crossing incidents and hazmat scares are also situations beyond Metra's control, and they, like the rest of us, are forced to adjust on the fly. It's just that the impact is more noticeable when these events occur on Metra's busier lines, and the fact they seem to occur during rush hours, when the greatest possible number of people can be affected, certainly doesn't help matters...
  by BMT Standard
Yesteday was a bad day for the UP West Line.

Train #16 had "mechanical problems" for the second time this week. On Monday, the train was just annulled, but yesteday it managed to tie up the trains behind it. The first train that came was running on #20s schedule (I think it was #20), and I got into the city about 30 min late.

In the evening, I arrived at Ogilvie to hear announcements that, "due to switching and signal problems at Elmhurst, all West line trains are running up to 45 minutes late." Sure enough, #55 got me home about 45 or 50 minutes behind schedule.

I think that this is the first time I can remember being late both ways on the same day :(

  by AMTK84
I think the problems on Monday were with cab car 8431, although I did observe that train (with something like 6 cars, I have a hard time believing the dispatcher IDing it as 16 because of this) and 165's HEP shut off. 165 ran that night, though.

  by MetraBNSF
Another afternoon rush on BNSF marred by big delays, this time a car being pursuited by police lands on the tracks and is engulfed in flames. Rush hour trains ran anywhere from 30-70 minutes late and several trains were cancelled.

Since June, there has been four incidents that have triggered big delays. But all of them are out of Metra/BNSF control.

  by MetraBNSF
The severe weather of Friday (9/22) caused significant delays on about 50% of the system as trains were stopped en route. The UP lines suffered the most significant delays as the severe storms passed in/near towns like Elburn, Geneva, Park Ridge, and Waukegan.

  by metraRI
Its weird how weather played a role tonight only for the nothern suburbs, no difference in service on SWS. It barely rained at all in the southern burbs... what a difference a few miles make.

  by doepack
Due to Friday's severe weather, all rail traffic on UP-W was completely stopped between 1645 and 1715, resulting in delays from 40 min. to over an hour in some cases, especially for the inbound trains. Train 4302, normally an Elmhurst-OTC equipment move, was changed to a revenue run, but wasn't allowed to leave Elmhurst going back east until 1720 or so. UP then decided to cancel the scheduled additional Elmhurst runs of this five-car set (59 and 60), and instead elected to hold it over for its normal slot as 65 (the 1940 from OTC). Plus, UP issued slow orders through certain portions of West Chicago and Geneva that were hit hardest by the flooding in the hours immediately after the storms, due to water creeping up close to the tracks in areas especially around grade crossings (3rd St. in Geneva was really bad, from what I heard). Naturally, this helped to stretch the delays well into the evening; "normal" service didn't actually resume until after 9pm...

  by doepack
Metra is once again reporting evening rush hour delays on SWS due to ongoing signal problems from the latest round of violent weather. We've had severe thunderstorms off and on in the Chicago area for the last few weeks, but does anyone know why this route always seems to take much longer recovering from weather-related signal problems compared to other lines on the system? Or is it just they've sustained the most significant and consistent damage from all the storms every time?

  by MetraBNSF
I heard on a traffic report this afternoon that there is a stalled freight train in the vicinity of 95th St. and Pulaski/Kedzie that is causing major traffic headaches and is affecting SWS.

Update on SWS from Metra's web site:
Metra wrote: Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Due to switch problems at Foterst Hill the following trains are runing behind schedule. They are currently
(@7:05pm) behind schedule the following amount.
823 94"; 825 69"; 827 58"; 829 37"; 831 7".

Train 836 scheduled to depart 153rd at 5:44pm will not run, this train has been cancelled.

Train 833 scheduled to depart Chi. Union Station at 7:00pm will not run, this train has been cancelled.

Posted: 07:19 PM CDT
BNSF was hit very hard this morning as well from last night's storms. The signal problems took place at the DG and Fairview interlocking plants. Trains had to be flagged through every grade crossing from DG/Belmont on the west to Cass Ave/Westmont on the east. Signal crews were working at both DG and Fairview interlockings, this is where the most significant delays took place. Once east of Clarendon Hills, there were no problems.[/quote]

  by MetraRy
I happend to have the bad luck of being on the west line 10:40 departure from olgilvie last night. The train made it to the keeler ave employee only stop. We were then told that the line was flooded and were going back downtown. We were then told that the earlier 9:40 departure that made it only as far as Elmhurst was also being sent back downtown. We began to back up and moved about a foot, when the crew became away that the turnouts behind us were inoperatable causing us to sit for 50 minutes. We finially returned at OTC at 12:00. I don't know the faith of the 9:40, but back at elmhurst I didnt hear any Metra's go threw town till about 2:30a.m. The last one is scheduled at 1:13 am.

  by metraRI
SWS was a mess tonight, as mentioned above trains ran up to 90+ minutes late. This also caused equipment changes to occur, as two 8 car sets ran to Manhattan.

Here is the sum up from this evenings commute: Times according to arrival at 153rd Street.
#823 - 7:00?, 90? minutes late... Did not catch this one
#825 - 7:16, 76 minutes late
#827 - 7:23, 65 minutes late (829 equipment used)
#829 - 7:33, 53 minutes late (827 equipment used, turned from late 834)
#831 - 7:38, 27 minutes late
#833 - Cancelled
#837 - 9:27, 22 minutes late (833 equipment used)

#836 - Cancelled
#838 - Turned from #823? Train was not cancelled, and was not turned from 179th.
#840 - 8:34, 4 minutes late (829 equipment used)

  by metraRI
Another ouch for SWS yesterday morning. It has not been a good week for SWS commuters.
Halted freight train disrupts Metra Southwest Line

By Richard Wronski
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 6, 2006

Thousands of rail commuters on Metra's Southwest Line were delayed--some nearly two hours--Thursday morning because a freight train was blocking the tracks and its crew was not allowed to move it.

The incident was the latest in a series of problems that commuters say they have faced on the line serving Chicago's Southwest Side and suburbs.

Six of the Southwest Line's eight inbound trains were blocked by a CSX freight that came to a stop at the Forest Hills crossing, between 179th and 153rd Street stations in Orland Park, according to Metra. It stopped because its crew had exceeded federally mandated work hours, Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

A fresh CSX crew had to be summoned to move the train while about 3,400 Metra commuters waited, Pardonnet said.

"The train should not have been left where it was," she said. "It's certainly not proper protocol, and we expressed our concern to CSX. They said they've made a mistake and would initiate new procedures to see that it doesn't happen again."

One Metra train left the 179th Street station at 5:10 a.m. and didn't arrive at Chicago's Union Station until about 8:08 a.m., Pardonnet said. It was scheduled to arrive at 6:15 a.m.

Four other trains experienced delays of from 44 minutes to 12 minutes, Pardonnet said. Another train, scheduled to leave at 5:49 a.m. was canceled.

Metra passengers were angry.

"There were a lot of unhappy people," passenger Kirk Hartley said. "You could hear people saying, `I'm going to miss the doctor, I'm going to miss this or that.' This is just destroying our faith in whether we can count on [Metra]."

Pardonnet said CSX promised to improve the training of its crews and dispatchers. Calls to CSX headquarters in Jacksonville were not returned Thursday afternoon.

Federal Railroad Administration regulations govern freight crew members, but it was unclear what rules applied in this case.

In general, they mandate that employees not remain or go on duty unless they've had at least 8 consecutive hours off during the prior 24 hours. If employees have been on duty for 12 consecutive hours, they can't resume work until having at least 10 consecutive hours off.

Even before Thursday's delays, Southwest Line commuters termed this week a "commuting disaster" because of delays Tuesday, blamed on the previous night's storm. But commuters said freight trains have blocked crossings before and switching problems have caused delays.

"Metra has clearly fallen down on the job of policing the right of way on this," Hartley said. "It shouldn't take calls from reporters and cranky commuters to get results."
They got some of the Forest Hill details wrong, but either way... messy week for SWS.

  by doepack
For the sake of clarity, the freight train was parked on CSX's Blue Island subdivision, which runs in a N/S alignment at Forest Hill, crossing Metra's SWS line about a mile east of the Wrightwood station, not between 153rd and 179th as the article suggested. As I understand it, Metra didn't impose a rush hour curfew on this particular CSX route when SWS service was expanded, but, given the events from the morning of 10/5, that may have to change...
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