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 Tadman
I'm not advocating guaranteed connections nor advertising - just that a bunch of agencies funded with our dollars clearly denote in timetables and maps that there are other publicly funded connections. IE the Mayfair station on the map notes a connection to CTA blue trains to O'Hare, Wicker Park, and downtown.
  by kaitoku
Tuna, thank you for your comments and questions- despite your self description of "not knowing much about trains", you make astute observations that seemingly few make. As for the building of passing tracks to allow locals to wait for expresses to pass, this is what is called a "timed overtake", which I believe in North America is quite rare, at least outside the NYC MTA, though commonplace in some parts of Europe (Switzerland) and very common in Japan. It requires a modern traffic control system with PTC, as well as timetabling with all trains running to schedule- in Japan trains are timetabled down to 15 seconds, even less in some urban networks. In the North American context, this is next to impossible, with enormous freight trains with massive stopping distances as well as testudinal acceleration. Even with passenger only lines, loco hauled trains are a drag on operating a viable timed overtake, with their slower acceleration vs. multiple units.
  by boblothrope
EricL wrote:A big slowdown that affects all Metra operations is the 'door light' circuit. It became a FRA requirement a few years back, and now locomotives have been modified such that they won't load until the door closed circuit is complete. It used to be, the trainman could shut all the doors except the one where he was, and jump inside and give the "two go to" while his local door was still chiming "Caution... the doors are about to close..." This doesn't sound like a big deal, but it wastes seconds, which over the course of a run turn into minutes...
The problem there isn't the door light requirement. It's the software-imposed delay for the automated announcement.

When the conductor pushes the button, the door should close right away. If he wants to give advance notice, he can push a button that rings a bell a few seconds before the doors close, but under no circumstances should the door control software waste everyone's time.
  by EricL
That is a good point, I suppose. I do think that a door warning chime is necessary and prudent in this age of "protecting people from themselves", but Metra's version is much too long-winded.

Of course, adding a separate button to activate the announcement (CTA "L" cars do have one, FWIW) would represent "a lot of work" that Metra simply isn't willing to do. I'm also not sure that such a command would be able to be carried over the trainline, in its existing configuration. So I guess the best solution would be to shorten up the existing thing.