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 ryanch
 
I didnt' see a dedicated thread for all things UP North, so maybe it's appropriate to start one with a couple questions/musings:

1) what's up with the stairwell to Ashland at Clybourn on the inbound side? I just noticed that Union Pacific has closed it without any notice of when/whether it'll be reopened. Was it damaged? Is there an active plan to repair it, or is it just decrepit and awaiting some further money/energy before anything happens?

2) There is at least one reference, a DNA.info article, to the idea that the Ravenswood outbound station would be open this month:
http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140115 ... od-station" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Does "open" imply that one would use the station to wait for the train? Or just that one could walk up the shiny new ramp and, say, tag the station with the emblem of one's circle of friends? Regular riders will know that the tracks will have to be moved in order for the station to be in use, unless there's a plan to lay planks across the railbed so you could stand on the platform, then cross the planks to get to the train. :-D

The bed looks done for much of that stretch. And for all I know, it may not take much time to lay rail once the bed is in place. So maybe they can still make a May deadline. I haven't found any no more recent information on when this is intended to happen. Anyone know?
  by doepack
 
ryanch wrote:There is at least one reference, a DNA.info article, to the idea that the Ravenswood outbound station would be open this month:
http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140115 ... od-station" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Does "open" imply that one would use the station to wait for the train? Or just that one could walk up the shiny new ramp and, say, tag the station with the emblem of one's circle of friends? Regular riders will know that the tracks will have to be moved in order for the station to be in use, unless there's a plan to lay planks across the railbed so you could stand on the platform, then cross the planks to get to the train. :-D
For outbound passengers that normally board on the west side of the ROW, that could very well be a temporary part of the plan until new track construction is complete. As I understand it, "new" track 1 is going in over the rebuilt bridges between Grace and Balmoral, which is about 2 miles; and all outbound traffic will be shifted here once complete. If the railbed is indeed ready, it shouldn't take too long to lay it down, at least theoretically.

But then, according to this, it's running about six months late...
  by ryanch
 
There are a couple of UP-logo cars that seem to be full of ballast near the Clybourn station. I wonder if this is intended to be the ballast for the railroad in Ravenswood. The roof is being finished on the station (already 3 months late) and there is ballast on a number of the bridges. I'm still surprised that no news outlet has run even a note explaining why the station project is off-track and what's going on.
  by ryanch
 
Not sure whether this stuff was already there when I noticed the ballast yesterday, but today there were a dozen or more open-side UP railcars loaded with concrete ties. We must be getting close to the final phase of construction on the west track.
  by ryanch
 
Exciting - the new ties have been delivered to the section from maybe Addison to Montrose - I didn't pay close attention to exactly where this began and ended, but at any rate, they're ready to be laid down. Things seem to be on schedule (well, the updated, 6-mo. late schedule) for the November opening of the new station.

I have an operational question should anyone know. Currently, northbound traffic is running in the middle of the right of way, in what I'll call Lane 2 (counting from west to east). The plan is to use Lane 1 for northbound traffic north of roughly Addison. Only in Phase 2 in a few years will Lane 1 have tracks south of Addison, so in the meantime, northbounds will run in Lane 2 from Clybourn north to Addison, where they'll shift to the westernmost track - Lane 1. I'm assuming that the tracks in Lane 2 will remain in place, and that at the point where the train moves to Lane 1, there'll be a switch and a relatively abrupt movement to the left, rather than a realignment of tracks to allow a softer curve. (Not using proper railroad terms because I don't know them, but hopefully you can figure out what I mean.) So I'm guessing that for the next several years, northbounds will have to slow down in what has been a fast section of track in order to move across that switch. Is that accurate?
  by doepack
 
ryanch wrote:I have an operational question should anyone know. Currently, northbound traffic is running in the middle of the right of way, in what I'll call Lane 2 (counting from west to east).


If I'm understanding you correctly, and based on current conditions you've described compared with the design plans, "lane 2" in your example refers to "old" track 1. For the sake of semantics, let's change the name of "lane 1" to the more accurate name of "new track 1".
ryanch wrote:The plan is to use Lane 1 for northbound traffic north of roughly Addison. Only in Phase 2 in a few years will Lane 1 have tracks south of Addison, so in the meantime, northbounds will run in Lane 2 from Clybourn north to Addison, where they'll shift to the westernmost track - Lane 1.
Correct. Northbounds will use the old alignment south of Addison, then shift to the new alignment north of there. Once done, this will complete phase 1A of the project.
ryanch wrote:I'm assuming that the tracks in Lane 2 will remain in place, and that at the point where the train moves to Lane 1, there'll be a switch and a relatively abrupt movement to the left, rather than a realignment of tracks to allow a softer curve.
The last part of that statement is the more likely scenario, so no speed reduction should be necessary as northbounds cross from the old alignment onto the new. According to the project details, once northbound traffic is shifted over, the bridges along old track 1 between Webster and Balmoral will be removed, then rebuilt directly adjacent to new track 1. This will begin phase 1B of the project, and although not included in the details, I'm pretty certain that all of the track along the old track 1 ROW between the bridges will be retained, and will only be replaced as the new bridges go in.

After phase 1B is complete, old track 1 (northbound) will become new track 2 (southbound)...
  by ryanch
 
doepack wrote:
ryanch wrote:I have an operational question should anyone know. Currently, northbound traffic is running in the middle of the right of way, in what I'll call Lane 2 (counting from west to east).


If I'm understanding you correctly, and based on current conditions you've described compared with the design plans, "lane 2" in your example refers to "old" track 1. For the sake of semantics, let's change the name of "lane 1" to the more accurate name of "new track 1".
ryanch wrote:The plan is to use Lane 1 for northbound traffic north of roughly Addison. Only in Phase 2 in a few years will Lane 1 have tracks south of Addison, so in the meantime, northbounds will run in Lane 2 from Clybourn north to Addison, where they'll shift to the westernmost track - Lane 1.
Correct. Northbounds will use the old alignment south of Addison, then shift to the new alignment north of there. Once done, this will complete phase 1A of the project.
ryanch wrote:I'm assuming that the tracks in Lane 2 will remain in place, and that at the point where the train moves to Lane 1, there'll be a switch and a relatively abrupt movement to the left, rather than a realignment of tracks to allow a softer curve.
The last part of that statement is the more likely scenario, so no speed reduction should be necessary as northbounds cross from the old alignment onto the new. According to the project details, once northbound traffic is shifted over, the bridges along old track 1 between Webster and Balmoral will be removed, then rebuilt directly adjacent to new track 1. This will begin phase 1B of the project, and although not included in the details, I'm pretty certain that all of the track along the old track 1 ROW between the bridges will be retained, and will only be replaced as the new bridges go in.

After phase 1B is complete, old track 1 (northbound) will become new track 2 (southbound)...
For the sake of clarity, let's not use old track 1 and new track 1, since that's exactly the confusion I was trying to avoid. If people think 'lane' is a word from the wrong dictionary, then ROW 1, 2 and 3 (numbering from west to east) may serve better, while still maintaining clarity. The concrete ties are positioned through most of ROW 1 now, and one rail has been laid atop the ties for a certain distance, though as of this morning, it wasn't secured to the ties, and I'm not even clear that it's there in a preparatory way or just for lack of better place to put it while they prep the ground where it was resting. May is long gone, but it's looking more like they'll meet the new deadline of October.
  by ryanch
 
Ravenswood Station is now in use!!

Well, sort of. If you ride in the upper level in the evening, you can see that two possibly otherwise homeless men have found a sweet crib. I'm sure the street level doors remain locked, but probably if you climb up to the tracks and then walk over, the upstairs doors are unlocked. I was pretty sure I saw someone lying on a bench last night as my train expressed past. Tonight, on a different train, we were slowing to the temporary station, plus I was primed to look. Sure enough, one guy was lying down on a bench and another man sitting on another bench.
  by justalurker66
 
ryanch wrote:Ravenswood Station is now in use!!

Well, sort of. If you ride in the upper level in the evening, you can see that two possibly otherwise homeless men have found a sweet crib. I'm sure the street level doors remain locked, but probably if you climb up to the tracks and then walk over, the upstairs doors are unlocked. I was pretty sure I saw someone lying on a bench last night as my train expressed past. Tonight, on a different train, we were slowing to the temporary station, plus I was primed to look. Sure enough, one guy was lying down on a bench and another man sitting on another bench.
The ghosts of Ravenswood.
  by ryanch
 
A little more progress. Saturday, my daughter was taking her first ride on her new 'balance bike' (she just turned 3 - it's a bike with no pedals, and she 'rode' at a pace slower than her 1 year old sister was walking behind her, so a little snow still on the sidewalks was more of a forward progress issue than a slip and fall issue.)

Anyway, we live in sight of the tracks, and we heard a train coming. It was a freight engine pulling 6 coal cars and a flat bed with an earthmover. I surmised the coal cars had ballast, and sure enough, today there are piles of ballast through much of the recently laid section, though still not spread between the concrete ties.

I wonder if they can open the Ravenswood station less than a year behind schedule. May is coming soon.
  by ryanch
 
Driving on the Kennedy yesterday, I saw a UP engine in that small yard near Division with flames shooting out of the top - intense orange light, extending probably 5 feet above the locomotive. As I got closer, it began to pulse, and by the time I saw it in my rear-view, it seemed to have died. It didn't seem normal. What might have happened?

Anyway, ballast has now been spread over the ties in the vicinity of the Ravenswood station, and it's been placed along the track in preparation for spreading. There was some sort of machine at the station tonight. Too dark to see much, but presumably it's the machine that pushes the ballast into place.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
Usually a failing turbocharger impeller causing incomplete fuel combustion where it is supposed to combust. Many locomotives have become toast that way.
  by ryanch
 
Milwaukee_F40C wrote:Usually a failing turbocharger impeller causing incomplete fuel combustion where it is supposed to combust. Many locomotives have become toast that way.
Thanks for the answer. I'm sure you know what I meant, but for anyone who didn't, when I said 'it had died' I meant the fire, not the engine.

There was actually a guy walking slowly away from the engine as I past, so I knew it wasn't catastrophic or in imminent danger of explosion. Looked crazy though. There was the beginning of a gaper's block on the closer side of the expressway as people slowed to watch.
  by ryanch
 
As of yesterday (or maybe Sunday, but I wasn't on the train) we're traveling in ROW 1 - the new track. The conductor said that track speeds are limited to 30 while they wait to let the ballast settle (or maybe running slowly over it is an active part of encouraging the ballast to settle). Does anyone know how long that will last?

From the new track being in use you can surmise that the new Ravenswood Station is now open, since you had to cross this track on a low footbridge to get to the old temporary platform. I've been on trains that skipped it, so I haven't noticed anything in particular about it. I haven't paid attention - what is the longest routine consist on UP-N, 8 passenger cars plus locomotive? This is a long station, and I'm assuming that's to make sure you can exit from all cars no matter how long the train. Is that correct?