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
Last night I went to South Bend and about ten minutes out, the conductor announces that only a few doors will open. This puzzles me as there is a high platform for at least two cars. Upon exiting the train, there's snow fencing and wooden barricades all over the platform. Turns out, the platform (22 years old) is looking at serious structural damage and bounces as passengers walk to the terminal.

So add that to the SB Airport dog and pony show. The $XXmillion empty air terminal and the dreadfully undersized train station that is actually used (as opposed to the airport, even though you can only platform 2 of 8 cars.
  by CHTT1
Isn't there a plan to reroute the South Shore to the west side of the airport, eliminating the round-about current route? That may explain the lack of maintenance at the east side platform.
  by The EGE
Why again does it go to the airport, rather than to downtown South Bend?
  by JLJ061
The EGE wrote:Why again does it go to the airport, rather than to downtown South Bend?
The railroad was so desperate to get away from the Bendix terminal, it was more cost effective to use the existing Bendix Lead to the airport than build 2+ miles of track/catenary downtown.

I was wondering why the platform was barricaded like that, when I took the train to Chicago two weeks ago.
  by justalurker66
NICTD requested the money to relocate the line and the station and was turned down. Try again next time unless some friendly people in government come up with an appropriation.

Moving the station downtown would be cost prohibitive. The line was cut back from downtown to remove slow street running and maintenance - and moved to the airport to provide better parking.

It is a shame the platform did not stand the test of time. Now repairs will have to be made on a platform NICTD wants to abandon. If I recall correctly, on a good day the platform can berth a four car train (except the end door). Six car trains unload through the front cars. This is not a good day.
  by Rockingham Racer
The EGE wrote:Why again does it go to the airport, rather than to downtown South Bend?
Intermodal connectivity?? :-D

The train used to go downtown, but it ran down the middle of several streets--slowly. I supposed the powers that be figured that that operation was unsafe.
  by justalurker66
Rockingham Racer wrote: The train used to go downtown, but it ran down the middle of several streets--slowly. I supposed the powers that be figured that that operation was unsafe.
Not unsafe ... just slow and expensive. CSS&SB did not want to pay to maintain the tracks and streets between Bendix and downtown. I suppose South Bend was fortunate that CSS&SB didn't simply discontinue service to South Bend completely ... but there were freight customers to serve. They might as well run a few passenger trains out as far as they could go. CSS has lost the South Bend customers (no interchange with NS in South Bend). There are still freight customers near New Carlisle. And NICTD passenger service does well enough to keep the line running ... especially on the weekends.

NICTD would like to get rid of the last couple of miles of South Bend track and reroute to the airport on a new faster alignment but they do not have the money at this time. 10 minutes from MP 3 to MP 0 is a slow end to the journey.

NICTD would also like to get rid of the slow and expensive street running in Michigan City. But that fix will be more expensive than South Bend's reroute.
  by dinwitty
They tried to get that faster route earlier, there was a lot of newsyness on it but it never came about, so up the old freight line they went.

They may want to stay at the airport for that airport interconnectivety. But I wondered if they could run up to the Union Station.
It sux that even Amtrak still uses Bendix when that station is downtown.
If you want to think about South Bend improvement, get more passengers that way.
  by CHTT1
I believe a few years ago Amtrak tried to move back to the Union Station site, but the move was blocked by Norfolk Southern because it would interfere with leads to a freight yard.
  by justalurker66
I would like to see an official quote for moving the NICTD South Shore station to Union Station. I expect it would be more expensive than the airport due to the number of bridges needed. The Transpo station near Union Station would be a good target for intermodal connectivity. Is there enough parking downtown for the regular South Shore commuters and weekenders or are they better off on the west side of town where traffic reaches the station from the US20/33 bypass (as well as from the city)?

The biggest benefit I see to a Union Station area station is that it keeps alive the fragile dream of extending the South Shore to Elkhart. An idea floated from time to time to appease South Bend and Elkhart area residents when officials talk of building a new high speed rail line through Plymouth and Fort Wayne instead of following the existing Amtrak route. The officials say South Bend has the South Shore and often suggest an extension. With the current and planned platforms at the airport the idea of any extension seems to be impossible. What are they going to do ... reverse the trains and wye them to Elkhart? Run a connecting shuttle between South Bend and Elkhart (with stops at Transpo South Bend and Osceola)? Talk of extension is devoid of actual planning.

I'd have to look to see if any NS freight leads still exist in South Bend. There was one that led up to Notre Dame but that was abandoned and the connection severed years ago.
  by The EGE
From an outsider's perspective, rerouting the Shore Shore and Amtrak to Union Station / Transpo seems like a pretty solid deal. It's four bridges from the Bendix lead to Union Station (where you'd want your platforms to sit - it's straight track and there's more space) and another two to the Transpo Center two blocks away. (Put some parking and some commercial development on the block between them, and the walk won't be an issue.)

There is space for one additional South Shore track from the current lead to Union Station within the current ROW - there should be no impacts to abutting properties whatsoever. With a little decking over South Layfayette for a platform, there's plenty of room for two passenger tracks and two side platforms (or an island platform) at Union Station without doing anything more than moving one freight siding.

Two miles of new single track with catenary, 4-6 bridge decks, a little more of freight tracks near downtown, and a couple platforms. That's probably doable for $30-50 million depending on the bridges. For that price you'd get Amtrak and South Shore to downtown right at the ballpark (with plenty of parking available), and you could even reuse Amtrak's Bendix station as a South Shore park-and-ride to replace the airport. Since the ROW (probably originally quadruple tracked?) is so wide, you could improve passenger service by a lot (including reducing South Shore travel time by about 5 minutes) without impacting freight (and Amtrak no longer stops on the main).

The airport only serves about 800 daily passengers; I doubt many of them are making connections to South Shore.
  by The EGE
spatcher wrote:
The EGE wrote:
The airport only serves about 800 daily passengers.
Double that number.
http://www.flysbn.com/press_article.php?id=50" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Roger that, I was looking only at departure numbers. Still not a particularly significant number, especially considering that the biggest demand path - airport to downtown/Notre Dame - isn't covered by the South Shore in any configuration.