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
Many a times I've heard tales of Meta trains heading north to Milwaukee and more recently WSOR commuter service to Madison. I've driven though Madison and thought that traffic flowed smoothly. Is it a problem?

Moreso Milwaukee I'm cuious to know about. Rush hour in Milwalkee, of the times I've been there, is no Dan Ryan but at the same time, it's no stroll in the park. We've head about it many-a-times prior of Chicago-Milwaukee Commuter service. C&NW ran into Milwaukee. Is it still an option the people in that area are willing to go for? They have quite an extensive Bus commuter service which is seemingly popular.

Cost: Of the times I've brought this up I hear It'll never work by virtue of the fact that Chicago is in Illinois and Milwaukee is in Wisconsin. Granted MCTD and RTA are 2 seperate transit entities, but both are working for the same goal: effective, safe, reliable public tranist options for those people residing within their extended districts. That being my point and the fact that the State of Illinois has the Bi-State commuter system which we know as Metrolink which proves that this state along with another can have one system in place drawing from two transit districts (states!, no less) effectivly providing rail service to it's customers. Mind you Metrolink has been around since 1993 and is scheduled to expand service and routes later this year. Fact: Metrolink works, so can this.

  by jg greenwood
It appears that both Illinois and Missouri long ago reached an amicable agreement re: MetroLink. I've never heard of any operational/political problems resulting from MetroLink operating in two different states. Now, what's really sad is the fact they utilize bus-drivers as "light rail vehicle operators" on their light-rail system. In addition, they are not covered by railroad retirement. Light-rail or not, difficult to believe they're not required to employ certified engineers. Is this practice the status quo in other cities with light rail operations? In addition, you're correct. MetroLink does indeed work.

  by MikeF
Kenosha's streetcar motormen are KTC bus drivers. And I don't know of any rapid-transit system where the motormen are actually certified locomotive engineers. Why would they need to be? They don't share the tracks with heavy-rail trains.

  by jg greenwood
MikeF wrote:Kenosha's streetcar motormen are KTC bus drivers. And I don't know of any rapid-transit system where the motormen are actually certified locomotive engineers. Why would they need to be? They don't share the tracks with heavy-rail trains.
Point taken. You're correct, there actually is no need for them to be engineers. But, were they required to be certified engineers and covered by r.r. retirement, I might possibly hire-on with them and escape this miserable freight extra-board life. :wink:

  by doepack
Empire Builder travelers with either Racine or Kenosha as an origin or destination should have the ability to connect to Milwaukee's Union Station since Amtrak bypasses both of these towns, and this market would be best served by the proposed Metra extension to Milwaukee. I haven't heard much about this project lately, but I have to wonder how motivated Union Pacific is in terms of lobbying the Wisconsin legislature for the money it will take to upgrade the trackage to passenger train standards north of Kenosha. And then there's Milwaukee itself: Do the track upgrades also include the connection to CP's C&M sub, or do they build their own trackage into Union Station? Plus you've got varying degrees of support from residents (most seem to be in favor of it, but the NIMBY's won't go down without a fight), and it all adds up to questions and considerations that have yet to be sufficiently answered or addressed. In a nutshell, this is one of the major reasons why this proposal has struggled endlessly in the netherworld between concept and reality. I don't think the proposal will ever die, but it will continue to be studied to death (if that makes sense...)

Doepack and all: Will Wisconsin support expanded service to Milwaukee? It seems to me the potential ridership between Kenosha,Racine and Milwaukee is already there. I recall reading that Milwaukee had some limited commuter rail that lasted into the 60s. Perhaps the line could go as far north as Port Washington and there could be a pool of Wisconsin-owned rail equipment with the service operated by METRA/UP? The former NW N line serves the lakefront population centers that the current Amtrak route bypasses,as most know. To me,this is an expansion idea with all the right potential! MACTRAXX

  by JamesT4
MACTRAXX wrote: Will Wisconsin support expanded service to Milwaukee?
Yes. There are plans out right now about extending Metra's UP-N line from Kenosha to Milwaukee and other propose issues.

The 5 county metro area of Milwaukee, along with the WIDOT are trying to form their own RTA, like the Chicago area already got.

There are cities right now building up around the propose line.

Racine: built there main bus terminal next to the old Racine CNW station, and the city is proposing to rehab the old CNW station for the time when the trains start to roll thorugh Racine.

Cudhay is building new stores(Rail District) around the propose line.

The Milwaukee Amtrak Station will be rehabed according to the WIDOT web site to move in greyhound and the propose commuter rail service.

This the link that tells about rehabing the Milwaukee Amtrak Station.
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/s ... k-term.htm

Here are two links that talks about the propose rail service in Wisconsin


This one gives more details on the propose service.

  by doepack
Based on the links provided (thanks James), the initial estimates bring the total cost of this project to about 85 million dollars, but it's pretty telling that according to the studies, no reliable funding sources have been located yet. Meanwhile, has anyone heard from Union Pacific? What is their position on this proposal? And assuming they do support it, are they willing to make a financial commitment? The studies that were linked don't answer these questions. There are many other considerations holding this up as well, and again, only a few have been adequately addressed. And until they are, the proposal will stay where it has resided for over a decade- in limbo.