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 doepack
 
As soon as state lawmakers representing the district that this new route is scheduled to serve can successfully lobby Springfield and/or the Federal Goverment for a subsidy. However, much of this project is still in the planning stages, especially along the on-line communities, plus the ridership and engineering studies are at least several years away from being complete. Additionally, Metra also has to negotiate and finalize contract details with the proposed route's current owner Union Pacific, some of which could be similar to those currently in place on the other three UP lines. In short, this project still has many hurdles, and potential pitfalls yet to navigate in its journey from concept to reality; it's going to be awhile.

  by natethegreat
 
What cities would be served by this route? Which UP tracks? I haven't heard very much about this service so any info would be appreciated.
Thanks

  by doepack
 
This route is scheduled to operate between LaSalle St. station to a terminal in Crete. Heading south from downtown, trains will use current RI district tracks from LaSalle St. to 75th St, where two new connecting tracks will be built west to the joint BRC and UP (former C&WI) mains, toward the 74th St. interlocking. The RI district currently crosses these lines via an overpass 1/2 mi south. SES trains will use the new connector between RI and the 74th St interlocking to the UP segment, then will continue south on UP, passing through Dolton, South Holland, and Chicago Heights, en route to Crete. CSX also has trackage rights on this route south of Dolton.

Metra is currently promoting this as a new service, when in reality, it is actually a restoration of the old commuter service that was operated by predecssor Chicago and Western Indiana, pretty much along the same ROW, only that service used Dearborn Station as the downtown terminal. It's also ironic that although C&WI owned and operated Dearborn Station, at one time, the railroad itself was owned by five of the six tenants using that station, such as Monon, Erie, and GTW (Grand Trunk Western), creating the odd situation of a landlord providing shelter for its owners...

  by Tadman
 
If I recall, the CWI service only made it to Dolton though, not all the way to Steger. At Dolton the trackage belongs to former CEI. I work right by ex-CEI in the Heights, and it's always a good show - kind of a hidden railfan area, but the CHTT subsidiary of UP runs a sizeable switching operation and is always moving slow for chasing and photography purposes. However, the Heights is not the prosperous community it once was - if you railfan there, be alert and cautious. IRM it's not...

  by metraRI
 
SES would actually stay on RI past Gresham to about 91st Street where it would use CRL to connect to UP. The 1st stop would be Dolton, followed by South Holland, Thornton, Glenwood, Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights, Steger, Crete, and Balmoral Park. All of this is shown in the '06 'Proposed' Budget.

  by doepack
 
metraRI wrote:SES would actually stay on RI past Gresham to about 91st Street where it would use CRL to connect to UP. The 1st stop would be Dolton, followed by South Holland, Thornton, Glenwood, Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights, Steger, Crete, and Balmoral Park. All of this is shown in the '06 'Proposed' Budget.
Metra submitted the proposed 91st St. connection to UP via CRL for its SES service as an addition to the CREATE (Chicagoland Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) project, but as I understand it, it's approval is still pending. Meanwhile, the 75th St. connector as described above is part of the orignal CREATE plan as announced two years ago, intended for both the SES and the SWS as well, once (or if) that gets moved to LaSalle St. Even though it wasn't part of the orignal plan, the 91st St. connection does have some merit though, since it's on existing ROW, it should only be a question of track upgrade, although land acquistion can be dicey at times. I would think however, that should the 91st St. connection prove to be the one used, wouldn't SES trains stop at Gresham to allow transfer to the RI district?

  by metraRI
 
I don't think it would be necessary for SES trains to stop at Gresham because it is all ready RI's first stop. Having NCS trains stop at River Grove cuts 8 minutes off the time of a MD-W local.

SES could also split from RI in Blue Island, but the CRL connection is probably the cheapest.

  by natethegreat
 
What upgrades need to be made to the CRL tracks to handle the high speed Metra trains, will they have to be replaced/double tracked/etc?
Also, will Metra need some more cars to handle this extra service, or do they have enough?

  by doepack
 
natethegreat wrote:What upgrades need to be made to the CRL tracks to handle the high speed Metra trains, will they have to be replaced/double tracked/etc?
Also, will Metra need some more cars to handle this extra service, or do they have enough?
I believe the CRL is a single track line between the RI junction and UP, but I'm not sure about the actual condition of the rail, it may or may not meet current FRA class 2 standards, which specifies a max speed of 30mph passenger, 25mph freight. However, a turnout in the SW quadrant of the CRL's crossing of UP will need to be built to allow Metra access to the UP segment of the route. If Metra decides to run the service initially in rush hours only, then double-tracking of the CRL segment probably won't happen immediately. As for rolling stock requirements, it's a bit too early to tell, wouldn't make sense to even speculate on that right now.

Question for Tadman: To your knowledge, are there any tangible remnants of CWI's former commuter operation in Chicago Heights?

  by metraRI
 
Metra has been talking about using DMU's for SES as well for the STAR Line. The issue with equipment would be where to store it while its not being used downtown, 47th Street would need to be expanded. Hopefully that is on Metra's "To-Do" list in the next few years.

  by Rockingham Racer
 
metraRI wrote:SES could also split from RI in Blue Island, but the CRL connection is probably the cheapest.
I'm not sure that's viable. A new connector would have to be built to drop down to the IHB or GT, but there's no room to do it unless they condemn a lot of residences there.

  by doepack
 
South suburbs see promise, peril in Metra line proposal

By Carmen Greco Jr
Special to the Tribune
Published July 28, 2006

A new Metra commuter line that would give thousands of south suburban residents greater access to downtown Chicago could be a blessing and a curse, residents said during a planning meeting in Glenwood.

While the proposed Southeast Service Line could spur transit-oriented development and increase employment opportunities, residents said Wednesday night they worry about added traffic congestion and air and noise pollution.

"We have a small town, and the congestion is already terrible," said Mark Nordin of Thornton. "You add more Metra trains every 20 minutes, and people aren't even going to be able to get to work."

But Metra officials and south suburban leaders say the line could help municipalities revitalize their downtowns and take cars off local roads and expressways.

The line, which would cost about $500 million in its most expensive form, would begin south of Crete near Balmoral Park and make stops in Crete, Steger, South Chicago Heights, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Thornton, South Holland and Dolton.

The line would run on existing Union Pacific/CSX freight tracks before switching to tracks on Metra's Rock Island line near Blue Island.

Metra is marshaling the local support needed to persuade the federal government to fund the project. After an initial planning phase, officials said, they would schedule meetings in October for public comment. If approved, the project would take 8 to 10 years to complete.

"There's a lot more growth expected in this area, and the transportation system is already stressed," said Mike Lambert, a consultant hired by Metra.

Metra also will study alternatives to rail transportation for the region, including express buses that would follow a corridor along Interstate Highways 394 and 94.

Glenwood Mayor Jeanne Maggio, like other local leaders, is pushing for a rail line. A stop in Glenwood, she said, would mean a new train station that could spur downtown redevelopment. A new condominium and retail development is already taking off, she said.

"If the train were here today, it would already be filled up," Maggio said of the space.

She and other local leaders say they fear unwanted side-effects, such as increased traffic congestion, but believe careful planning could address those concerns. Leaders and residents from the communities slated for stops, for instance, could opt out of building train stations if they believe they would not benefit their towns.

South Holland Mayor Don DeGraff said the prospect of rail service already is sparking developers' interest in his town.

"We've used this as a catalyst to help jumpstart our downtown area," he said.

  by Rockingham Racer
 
Thanks, Dorian, for bringing back this thread. Two observations/questions:

Why is it going to take that long to finish this project? Most of the infrastructure is already in place, correct?

The connection to RI "near Blue Island" could be clearer. 91st St. isn't too far north of BI the border of which ends at 119th St. I wonder exactly where the connection is planned.

  by metraRI
 
If you go on Metra's site about SES, it shows a connection at 91st Street. I don't know why they say Blue Island versus something closer to the actual location. It would be interesting to see if this project gets funding, and what Metra changes on RI to accomidate SES trains on top of RI's trains all ready running.