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 Scotty Burkhardt
South Shore Railroad may increase fares, modify route

Monday, November 28, 2005

By The Associated Press

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A commuter train line that runs to Chicago likely will increase fares in each of the next two years, an official said.

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District General Manager Gerry Hanas said he has proposed a rate hike of 2 percent in 2006 and another 2 percent in 2007 for the South Shore Railroad. An average unlimited monthly pass to Chicago from the Gary Metro station would go up from $153 to $156 if the district board approves the change.

The increase would help the rail line keep up with increases in health insurance and fuel, Hanas said.

If approved, the rate increase would go into effect in April. Public hearings would first be held in each of the four counties served by the railroad.

South Shore also is trying to shorten the travel time between South Bend and Chicago by shifting the location of tracks through Michigan City. The shift could cut 10 minutes off the trip through town, Hanas said.

"We're trying to bring the South Bend trip time down to two hours," he said.

Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said the city has considering moving the tracks for years because of safety issues.

"It's something we think ought to be done for safety of pedestrians on the street and on the South Shore itself," Oberlie said. "Now it goes down the middle of the street."

  by MikeF
Nothing new. They've been talking about ending street running in Michigan City for decades.

  by Tadman
If not almost a century - Insull wanted to start removing street trackage in 1928, starting with E-Chi. However, local resistance halted that until 1956. Then South Bend was conveniently cut back to Bendix. I personally think it's smart - we can keep a modern interurban or lose an old one. By removing ten minutes from the schedule, it would encourage more South Bend riders, and also keep things safer, although I've never actually heard of a train/car accident in MC. If nothing else, insurance would go down drastically.

From what I hear, it involves use of the Power siding, trackage north of US-12, Amtrak up to and over the river, and ex-NKP back to shops. I remember at one time the NKP crossed US-12 and met Amtrak near the Weil McLain factory. I think that ended around 1992. I live north of Michigan City in the summer, and that's how we got into town. Although I never actually saw a train cross the road there, I do remember seeing shorty covered hoppers parked east of the crossing in the N&W grey.

  by doepack
The street running aspect of this railroad has always been a major attraction for me, almost as much as the rural portion of the route E of MC. Personally, I'd hate to see street running eliminated because it would mean the loss of an essential part of this railroad's character. However, the safety and potential ridership benefits from this realignment can't be ignored, and as such, it pretty much outweighs any nostalgic sentiments; in fact, I'm surprised it hasn't happened by now.

  by dinwitty
for modeling interest East Chicago double track down the street is rather fascinating with all the crossings and so on.

For MC, going up the old NKP sounds like a cool idea.

If the amtrak station is up there, they could share it.

The heyday of the interurban was going from town to town, but
times have changed, people can drive to destinations, then get on the train.

I would say better take all the pics in MC you can it may be gonners.

If the valpo extensions go, you might see all kinds of things happen.

  by Tadman
big ups to the shore for getting valpo on track, but just pray it's not with used P42's and amfleets from a dismembered Amtrak - if the a-holes in washington make hundreds of amfleets and P42's surplus, I can't imagine NICTD would buy 40 new cars from Sumitomo. However, I could live with a modern 1500v DC locomotive pulling orange/maroon striped surplus amfleets and cab cars. It still wouldn't be as cool as 40 more MU's though.

  by PRRGuy
Too bad you couldn't modify those FL-9's they are retiring on the eat coast to run off a pan instead of a third rail shoe....That would be pretty cool to see.

  by byte
It would be pretty cool to see (and some of them were originally equipped with a mini pan for operating in Grand Central Station) but those FL9s are obselete. They're worn out and the dual-mode operation of them has never been as reliable as the GE dual modes that replaced them.

  by Nasadowsk
The GEs aren't much better! Amtrak's got a short stretch of catenary up the Empire Corridor, and I've seen AEM-7s pulling stuff out of Penn before...

Don't get me started on the LIRR's DM-30s. They're a total joke.

Practically, expect more MUs. 1.5kv locos draw a nice load at the pan, and yeah, I know it was done that way for years, but who knows how practical it really was. Plus, now you've got a dual fleet to maintain. Yuck.

Of course, if they're thinking, they can plan out a future bump to 3kv on the system by making sure all the equipment and signalling is ready for it via attrition (i.e., replace with 3kv compatible components as the old stuff wears out or gets rebuilt). A bump to 3kv isn't technically demanding and has a bonus of lower current at the pan - it gets cut in 1/2. Less arcing, less chance of wire damage, and possibility for higher power units in the future. Oh yeah, and less voltage drop away from the sub. Rebuilding the rolling stock to take it (should be easy with AC inverter stuff), and the substations - it's a tap change there. You'd still have to support 1.5kv on Metra, but that becomes Metra's problem then if your high hp MUs suck their subs dry :)

  by Tadman
Back to street-running - I loooked at pics last night in the morning sun book of a Joe dragging coal thru East Chicago. I know the lights there weren't syncronized to trains like in MC. Can you imagine keeping mile like coaler going slow enough to stop at the next light, and once that light goes green trying to kick the train thru the intersection in enough time to beat the light? Especially if you are behind 3-4 cars instead of leading the que at the intersection. I bet the CSS engine crews do not miss that. It would probably be worse today with those rinkydink little geeps throwing everything they have into the fight, as opposed to the 800's, which were very powerful. I'm still surprised CSS doesn't sell some of their geeps or transfer them to another A&P line and acquire some used GP59's or 40's.

  by JLJ061
Not to mention the many IHB diamonds they had to cross. I'm sure delays were not very uncommon then. Say a passenger train had to wait for an IHB local maybe already coming across off the B&OCT, when pow! The local goes into emergency, and the passenger has no choice but to wait for the local to get moving again.

  by Scotty Burkhardt
South Shore Freight still uses the street running. There are several customers in South Bend.

  by dinwitty
maybe the question is does the SSF have operating avoiding the street running around MC?

  by Tadman
negative, although they try not to drag big freights through MC, the geeps and some freights still cross MC by street. I believe Carborundum, among others, still ships buy rail.