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 CarterB
 
Tadman wrote:One of those ex-N&W coaches, used both on the Orland Park train and the Valpo train, is parked on a now-isolated track in Wakarusa, IN. It was just off the Wabash main
Where in Wakarusa???
  by CarterB
 
Found it ...under a shed roof in N & W colors at N 41.52935 W 86.01611 on Wabash Ave.
  by Tadman
 
That be the one. When I was a kid, we were out for a drive and found it. Of course I wanted to hop out and take a look around, so I did. It wasn't in bad shape then, but it couldn't have been parked there for that long given the fact these coaches were used up to the 1980's.

The interesting take away for me, during that visit - a "lightweight" or "streamliner" coach, sitting by itself in a shed in the woods, just doesn't look that fast or light. It wasn't nearly as cool as the streamliners in pictures.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
SlowFreight wrote:Otto, we should smack you for not following your own advice involving search engines...but you get a pass because I like the Valpo Dummy...
Sometimes I suck at life. Thanks for the links and the follow-up info.

-otto-
  by Tadman
 
Can we look for an R&R story on the Dummy in the next quarter or so?
  by Otto Vondrak
 
I've hunted (maybe not well), but I can't find the answer of how the Dummy got transferred from Conrail to Amtrak. Conrail obviously wanted out because it was a money loser. How did they get Amtrak to take it over? Conrail still carried a commuter burden throughout the northeast until the passage of the Northeast Rail Services Act of 1981 that directed Conrail to turn over all its commuter trains to local agencies by the end of 1982. This was in response to the Staggers Act of 1980, which was yet another factor that lead Conrail to profitability.

So... How did the Valpo Dummy become Amtrak's Calumet?

-otto-
  by CHTT1
 
I believe the congressman for northwest Indiana at the time was very responsible for Amtrak taking over the Valpo trains. His name (Adam Benjamin?) escapes me but the station at Hammond-Whiting was named after him. Eventually Amtrak asked Indiana to chip in a couple of hundred thousand dollars to keep the trains going, but given the anti-transit and anti-Northwest Indiana views of the Indiana legislature, this was rejected. Of course, now the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is look for millions of dollars to restore Valpo service. Good forward looking, Indiana legislators.
  by Tadman
 
Adam Benjamin was an influential congressman from "da rejun" (what the NW Indiana suburbs of Chicago and industrial area are called) and he likely did have a role in saving the Dummy for a few years. That said, it's the Gary station for the South Shore that's named after him, the "Adam Benjamin Metro Center". As you can imagine of a building in Gary, it's pretty darn grubby these days after 30 years, but it's holding up. I used it about a year ago to meet a guy for work. The city owns it and is in disagreement with the railroad(s) about high platforms and lengthening (I believe it only takes six cars). It's on the short list for closure in favor of a station a few miles east at I-65 and US-12. It was once one of the busiest stations but I don't believe so anymore.

The Hammond-Whiting station is not named for anybody that I'm aware of. It's also way north of the population center in the Robertsville neighborhood and Whiting. Hammond stretches way south and downtown is a mile south of the South Shore depot, putting it 3-4 miles south of the Amtrak station. I'm curious if this had something to do with the Dummy's cancellation, the fact it misses a big population center. Since the 80's, the far south suburbs have seriously grown at the expense of the older lakefront suburbs, making a case for using the PRR lakefront main even worse. Current revitalization plans call for use of lines to the south such as GTW. Today's population is concentrated between parallel I-94 and US-30 from Dyer to Merrilville, with another outpost at Valpo.
  by SlowFreight
 
One has to wonder if we would have seen more development along the Dummy's corridor if it had stuck around. Not that the far south suburbs wouldn't have grown, but it might have made the lakefront more attractive.
  by justalurker66
 
SlowFreight wrote:One has to wonder if we would have seen more development along the Dummy's corridor if it had stuck around. Not that the far south suburbs wouldn't have grown, but it might have made the lakefront more attractive.
The lakefront has the South Shore ... although west of Gary the line gets further away from the shoreline and the Dummy stayed close. The former Dummy route seems to be developed ... mostly industrial with a few casinos.

Most commuter lines run from communities with houses to communities with work. Not that people cannot live in the Chicago Loop ... or work in Valparaiso or Gary ... but normally one is talking about bringing thousands or tens of thousands into the city for jobs and then taking them back home to more rural communities.

Even with the Dummy in existence I would not see the lakefront between Gary and Chicago developed for housing -and as one moves away from the lakefront the South Shore becomes close enough to serve.

As far as the east of Gary section of the Dummy I believe that area could be better developed. Valpo has their daily bus to Chicago ... and many communities have people who drive to East Chicago to get on the South Shore. It is not an unserved market but better service would not be a bad idea.
  by Tadman
 
The lakefront is solid steel mills, powerplants, and industry from Gary to ~80th street. Any stretches of trees are thin enough that it would smell like steel mill quite often. There is no way that area was developing into a resort community.

My family has a place north of New Buffalo on the lakefront. Late at night on a still night, you can hear the furnaces at Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor. It's very faint, but it's there if you know what to listen for. You can imagine what it's like being 500 yards away.
  by spatcher
 
SlowFreight wrote:One has to wonder if we would have seen more development along the Dummy's corridor if it had stuck around. Not that the far south suburbs wouldn't have grown, but it might have made the lakefront more attractive.
Lakefront? I doubt it. Wheeler would no doubt have some subdivisions built there, along with maybe a little bit more in Valpo.