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
 
South Bend has always had the lowest frequency of service, and it's understandable why. In fact, it got harder to serve South Bend when new FRA regs made it harder to add/drop cars.

Has the railroad ever studied a one-car, one-man South Bend shuttle for off-peak? Because the stations and rolling stock are already in place, you're basically adding one man's salary to the expenses - not a big number in the grand scheme of things. After an EB train arrives at Shops, the shuttle departs and runs to SB, and returns WB to meet the next WB mainline train.
  by justalurker66
 
I believe you are going to need at least a two man crew, engineer and conductor. The union would probably push for three. And for reliability two cars would be a minimum. One car can break down and leave people stranded. Two cars are better (even if they leave the second car dark). In some ways NICTD can do this with the current through trains as Michigan City is a crew change point. In the past few years NICTD simply runs through four or six cars leaving the unneeded cars empty. They can avoid cutting cars unless it is an eight car train.

I don't believe cutting and adding has led to less service to South Bend. The biggest issue is 32 miles of single track with only two places to pass. The schedule was once built around the time it took to reverse trains at South Bend. Late eastbound trains led to late westbound trains so the more recent schedules have had longer gaps to allow for late turns. This has led to meets in South Bend, where a eastbound arrives a few minutes before a westbound departs (which reintroduces the problem of a late train causing a second late train but if the eastbound won't make South Bend by the time the westbound needs to leave it can be held at Olive - making it later but not affecting the westbound schedule).

Look at the current trains on a line grid and extend the Michigan City trains to South Bend and you'll create meets in the single track territory that can't be done. That is what is stopping through service. With CTC it would be easier to pass. Restoring the meets at Birchim would be possible, although that basically means one train stops for the other. At least with CTC the conductor does not have to get out and change the turnouts. But the schedule would need adjusting to make sure the meets occurred at Birchim and Olive, not elsewhere (and those meets may also interfere with freight service).

The latest schedules try to avoid precision meets. There is only one per day at Sheridan (19 and 22 at 8:48pm each weekday). 15's late arrival at South Bend could delay 22 (which would affect the 19 and 22 meet). At least it is close to the end of the day.
  by dinwitty
 
really, how difficult is it to install a siding out there, I have mappage, the area had a lot of single ended sidings, and in the past traffic to south bend was heavier.

I was surprised to see 4 car trains all the way to south bend, but makes sense, weekends could see more ridership from south bend.

After the one car brakes failed incident in downtown South Bend, one car trains were stopped, always at least 2 cars.
  by justalurker66
 
dinwitty wrote:really, how difficult is it to install a siding out there, I have mappage, the area had a lot of single ended sidings, and in the past traffic to south bend was heavier.
Birchim and Olive are the major passing points, with Birchim having spring switches to exit the siding and Olive requiring trains to stop for the conductor to realign the switch. Now both of those locations are CTC. Davis is now double ended but not electrified. It saves running the train all the way out to Birchim to serve the industries there. Fishers is still single ended and would not be a bad place to put a powered siding but it is less than 5 miles from Olive.

New Carlisle had a siding once upon a time with regular meets, and it was about half way between Birchim and Olive. The other sidings are all gone now as well. Extending the Olive siding through New Carlisle to the county line would provide a nice long segment of tracks for running meets.
dinwitty wrote:I was surprised to see 4 car trains all the way to south bend, but makes sense, weekends could see more ridership from south bend.
I see fours and sixes on weekends. Last week I saw a six on a weekday - and it opened all of it's doors at South Bend (including the ones that were not at the platform). Mind the gap!
dinwitty wrote:After the one car brakes failed incident in downtown South Bend, one car trains were stopped, always at least 2 cars.
A long time ago (1967), and with old equipment, but still a lesson well learned. Especially because it happened again a week later. The additional car(s) can add reliability.
  by Tadman
 
It sounds like the passing tracks are the major hurdle to something like this.

I don't see one-care operation as a problem. Yes, there were two accidents in 1967, but Septa runs one-cars often, and NJT used to run the princeton shuttle as a one-car train, too. I believe South Shore ran one-car trains in the 80's with the new cars. If nothing else, you have two braking systems here - dynamic and air - as backups. It wouldn't be tough to put in place a policy that says each train must verify brakes by slowing from 79 to 50 at least ____ miles before Grandview Lead or Shops.
  by buddah
 
I don't see a problem with one car shuttles many other railroads do it on a day to day basis around the world. However 2 cars does make for a nice safety fall back ( say in the winter months) however now you do have to add in the extra maintenance cost of operating another car even if its run dark. I personally think if a second through track was to be built depending on SS scheduling Hudson lake would be the location of choice. Remove the current station double track the area just west of Chicago rd. to County line rd. ( or bring it to olive, but that would be costly) and build the new station ( or just platform) west of Chicago rd. so this location would double as a passing area and station stop, just my opinion. However as we all agree that single track long stretch between Birchim and Michigan city is a major draw back.
  by JLJ061
 
dinwitty wrote:After the one car brakes failed incident in downtown South Bend, one car trains were stopped, always at least 2 cars.
Actually, since the two incidents South Shore still used used one-car trains to SB (after the brakes were modified to prevent recurrence). There are plenty of pics out there of even the 1982 fleet being used in one-car trains in their early years.

I believe 2-car consists started being used since the early 1990's, again I believe from a mechanical standpoint; in case one car breaks down it doesn't leave passengers stranded.