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 justalurker66
South Shore getting shocked by electricity costs
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/arti ... 58e5c.html
The South Shore commuter railroad is being squeezed by steep increases in electricity costs, which could factor into decisions later this year on hiking fares or cutting service.

The railroad's cost for electricity from ComEd, which is part of its bill for track rights from Metra, increased 26 percent last year, according to Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District General Manager Jerry Hanas.

And now, the railroad is trying to find out how much a recent NIPSCO rate increase approved by state regulators in August will cost the railroad.


On Friday, Hanas told his board that by December NICTD will know if it has to again make adjustments for declining revenues and increased costs. Possible options for dealing with those include a fare increase or further work force reductions, Hanas said.
More problems for NICTD ... and Metra as they too buy power from ComEd.
  by Pacific 2-3-1
Some may remember this old Commonwealth Edison jingle:

"E - lectricity
Costs much less today you know,
Than it did twenty five years ago.
A little birdie told me so."

(tweet tweet) LITTLE BILL!
  by dinwitty
time to break out some solar panels and lineside batteries.

oh, and hit the state for a little more funding, maybe tax the beer a little higher....
  by justalurker66
Mostly due to poor handling by the legislature (demanding an off year special election on the one issue in the four counties) but also due to the economy the last attempt to raise taxes to help the South Shore went over like a stainless steel balloon. Something will need to be done.

NICTD has let 7% of their staff go through attrition and cut overtime by 37% ... but a ridership slump and rising uncontrollable costs don't help. If they lose the appeal expect more trains to be cut in December. Less service doesn't help increase ridership. The South Shore needs to remain convenient.

The major projects are funded ... so the catenary work, Kensington work, bridge work and CTC installs will continue. Hopefully when the recession really is over jobs will pick up in Chicago and there will be a really nice line to travel on. Until then times are tough.

Unfortunately the weekend work this year is cutting ridership (no trains east of Gary Metro again this weekend). Once people are in their cars as far as East Chicago they might as well keep going in to Chicago. Next year's closures will be better (truncated to Dune Park) as more of the line will be running and getting off the freeway/toll road at SR 49 or SR 249 is easier than finding East Chicago for most travelers. The additional mileage will also keep more of the ticket price in NICTD's pocket. (Right now a $10.95 one way passenger from South Bend is being told to board in East Chicago and assuming they do NICTD charges them $4.85 to complete the trip. NICTD charges $5.60 if they board at Gary Metro. Next year with the line truncated at Dune Park NICTD will be able to charge those customers $6.80. Losing $4 each way instead of $6 and serving more of the line.)
  by Eliphaz
retail electricity rates lag about a year behind wholesale cost. the load serving utilities must plead their rates for the coming quarter before states' DPU's based on financial performance over the prior year. Electric utilities' COGS is driven by fuel cost, which they buy in a notoriously volatile global commodity market - so look at 12-18 months ago for what your price needs to be for the next quarter to make the utility whole for what you bought last year.
currently, fuel i.e. gas, is at a historic low, and the wholesale price of power likewise - So just bite the bullet and pay the bill for what you already used. Next year rates will go down substantially and everyone will be saying "hosana electricity is cheap lets go with electricity for the future".
what will the price of gas and power do after next year? Only a fool will answer that question.
so why do we balance out entire economy, the very life's blood of our way of life on the global energy markets and let the NYMEX traders rape us over and over again, and give them tax payer bailouts when they are caught short? best of all possible worlds? whatevas.

It's more than a little sad that the only time we can get up any enthusiasm for locally produced energy, like clean coal, shale gas or wind or solar power is when global commodity spot prices for hydrocarbons are being driven up by market bubbles.
  by justalurker66
A historical note: Samuel Insull, the man who purchased the Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend in receivership for $6,474,843 in 1925 and (over the next couple of years) upgraded the line to new rail and DC power with (then) eight substations also started NIPSCO and Commonwealth Edison back in 1923.

The idea of the South Shore creating it's own power isn't new ... but I wonder how the industry would take it if a wind farm was built that would make enough electricity to run NICTD (and possibly the MED)?