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 AmtrakFan
What was the consist of the Valpo Commuter trains in the 70's?

  by bones
In the early 70's they used P70 coaches and a pair of E8"s back to back.
At the end they used ex CNW bi-levels usually with an F40 at each end. I have seen one F40 at one end and a Conrail E8 at the other.

  by Tadman
I've also seen steam equipped ex-NYC gp9's used on this train, and also at the end I saw F40's and horizons - not sure why Amtrak ever had anything to do with this nameless train, they called it the dummy. It should have been Metra/NICTD like the South Shore was. And now it will be, as South Shore is expanding service in the next few years to the valpo area.

  by MikeF
Here is a Gary Morris photo of the Valparaiso commuter train in 1977 with a Conrail, ex-EL, E8 and what looks to be a Conrail, ex-NYC, GP9 pulling three of the old PRR coaches.


Did Amtrak ever use the ex-C&NW intercity bilevels on this train? I know we discussed it before but the thread was among those deleted.

  by PRRGuy
Even though I wasnt around to actually see the trains, I have seen photos of the bilevels on the commuter train passing thru Whiting,IN.

  by F40CFan
I remember passing through Valpo on the Broadway and seeing bilevels parked there.

  by Otto Vondrak
Could someone give me some background on the old Valpo commuter? Who's was it originally? How did Conrail get saddled with it? Why wasn't it picked up after Conrail bowed out?


  by AmtrakFan
After CR backed out Amtrak took over.

  by F40CFan
The way I understand it, it was a Pennsy operation. It got picked up by Conrail when Penn Central went under. Amtrak picked it up when Conrail bowed out of passenger operations. I'm sure someone can put more meat on those bones.

  by MikeF
F40CFan's got it exactly right. I'll just add that Amtrak discontinued the service in 1991.

I would guess the reason it never came under RTA/Metra operation is that it primarily provided service outside the RTA district. Since Indiana taxes don't fund the RTA, why would the RTA pick up the Valparaiso service? Illinois taxpayers certainly wouldn't support it. Regarding NICTD, when it was formed in 1977, its sole purpose was to save the South Shore, so the Valpo plug was really outside NICTD's scope as well. So Amtrak picked it up until they didn't want to run it anymore either and finally discontinued it.

  by F40CFan
Thanks for filling in the blanks, MikeF. I've always wondered why NICTD didn't put their two cents in.
  by Otto Vondrak

I'm back! And I'm looking for information about how Amtrak came to pick up the Valpo Dummy from Conrail in 1979. What spurred the transition and where did the funding come from? What led to the train's ultimate demise, was it lack of funding?

Also I am looking for photography of the Valpo Dummy during its Conrail operation. I am looking for bright, sunny pictures of trains hauled by Conrail engines. If you have photographs you'd be willing to share for publication, please contact me via PM. Thank you!

  by SlowFreight
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.

Most of the good photos I've ever found are in this pool:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/[email protected]/pool/

You'll find some interesting commentary in the photos as you read through, and I suspect if you contact the contributors, you'll get great info.

This is one of my favorites, and has to be the rarest of the rare--CR power with the N&W commuter coaches on the Dummy:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwdavidson ... [email protected]

Pere here:


it was axed as part of Amtrak's "If you're in the Midwest fund it yourself or we cut it" policy. During the 90's, every time a budget crunch came up Amtrak would push the Midwest and West to pay for their own trains at the expense of subsidizing the NEC. Unfortunately, being completely a commuter service, by law the Dummy was outside Amtrak's charter, so that was arguably a reasonable decision. At the same time, it makes your question of why Amtrak took over a good one. It might have just been a slippery slope, because at some point Conrail started pulling leased Amtrak equipment (including motive power) with Conrail power. The variety of equipment alone makes this a noteworthy, if unloved, train.
  by Tadman
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, but said Wabash is long gone. The cars were modified for suburban service and the associated need for fast loading. The trap doors were cut off, the steps welded down, and I believe the dutch doors were totally removed, leaving the end-doors as the only barrier to the outside.

That pic at Grand Crossing is one of my favorites.

The train was not only discontinued because of funding woes and being outside Amtrak's core purpose. It was also discontinued because Conrail was seriously downgrading the ex-PRR. The double track was single-tracked, and eventually the main was severed at Tolleston (Gary) where today's CF&E starts. Around this time 29/30 was shifted to the ex-NYC and the Broadway to the ex-B&O.

Today, neither Gary station remains. You can find the platforms in the weeds, but both are rough areas. Be very aware of your surroundings. Whiting is still in service and it's not a bad area, I drop by on my way out of town some days when it's warm (the wind off the lake can be brutal otherwise). I have no idea where the East Chicago station was and I suspect it's long gone. It was probably torn down when the casinos were developed.