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 Rich T
Passenger trains through Michigan City appear to trip the traffic lights in their favor. Do freight trains have this capability also as I recall seeing a caboose hop waiting at an intersection for the traffic light to change?

  by MikeF
The traffic signals on 11th Street in Michigan City normally do clear for all South Shore trains (passenger and freight); however, sometimes the system doesn't work the way it's supposed to and both types of trains do occasionally have to stop for traffic lights.

  by Nasadowsk
Ok. Interesting question - does the train have to stop for stopped school bses or emergency vehicles?

I remember seeing that operation when I was out that way last. How long do the passenger trains get?

  by MikeF
Good question. I don't know the answer for sure, but I would tend to say the trains have the right-of-way over all vehicular traffic. I don't think any school bus routes stop on 10th or 11th streets, and since the train can't pull over to the side to let an ambulance pass, all the engineer can really do is slow down if necessary.

The longest regular trains are eight cars, although Notre Dame football specials have been known to carry up to eleven cars in recent years.

  by bratkinson
I know that when all trains on the South Shore were electric, there were contactors in the trolley wire that caused the signals to go green for the trains. When they brought in the diesels perhaps 20 years ago, either they had some type of radio-control tripper (which I had one!) or they just went plowing through. Would YOU try to cross in front of a train?

As for school buses, I don't recall having seen any on the streets with trackage. My guess is there intentionally aren't any, for the safety of the kids.

  by dinwitty
I would think emergency vehicles know how to route around the trains and track where needed. I don't see why a school bus shouldnt go down the same streets, same rules apply for train safety anyways.

I have ridden the cars and I believe once the train hit a car, a short delay before we got moving again.

  by JLJ061
I believe the traffic signals are controlled through the track circuits so they will work for freights as well. Also, if you look closely, at all three intersections on one of the poles there is a pair of flashing white lights, to indicate to the engineer that the signals are lined for him.

Also like motorists, engineers try to time the signals, but occasionally a train will have to stop and wait for a green light, thus activating the lineup for the train. The lights don't automatically turn green every time a train approaches.