Ambitious restoration and transformation in the Chicago area

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I like the idea of thru running using the mail platforms. However IMO enough height clearance is done to allow fuure OCS CAT to be installed to clear Superliners.
If the mail platform is to be high level, doesn't that preclude its use by Superliners, which I believe can only use low platforms?
If Superliners are excluded then future catenary installation should not be a problem.
 

jis

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If the mail platform is to be high level, doesn't that preclude its use by Superliners, which I believe can only use low platforms?
If Superliners are excluded then future catenary installation should not be a problem.
The plan in Chicago is to reuse the currently disused high level mail platforms for single level trains and continue using the low level platforms for low level doors bi-level equipment. So use of one does not preclude the use of the other. and for Superliners catenary clearance remains a bit of a problem as I understand it. Maybe some clever use of ceiling rails instead of catenary will be workable.
 
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Keep in mind that the bulk of CUS patronage is Metra which is 100% bilevel (and low level platform boarding outside of MED which is 100% level step-free boarding from high level platforms).
 

Touchdowntom9

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Looking much longer term, upgrading the Metra Electric/South Shore to constant tension catenary. Besides the Hiawatha, if there are two routes in the Midwest screaming out for future electrification, they'd be the Wolverine/Michigan Line and a renewed Hoosier State/Monon Line. And both routes look to use ME/SSL out of Chicago.

The RTA has funded a study to explore that possibility.
Side question, is any part of the SSL owned by CN? Just wanted to confirm that by using that track they are essentially on state owned rail all the way through south bend or Porter when leaving Chicago.
Also, what is the need for constant tension cat unless you plan to go well above 100mph? Seems like a huge project that has limited upside unless they REALLY want to crank the top speeds on the SSL
 
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Side question, is any part of the SSL owned by CN? Just wanted to confirm that by using that track they are essentially on state owned rail all the way through south bend or Porter when leaving Chicago.
Also, what is the need for constant tension cat unless you plan to go well above 100mph? Seems like a huge project that has limited upside unless they REALLY want to crank the top speeds on the SSL
As far as I'm aware the entirety of the NICTD route is owned by them as soon as they leave MED at Kensington.

There used to be rumors that the old Highliners were speed constrained by their brakes - which I've never been able to confirm. The new Highliners might be capable of higher speeds - especially between HP and downtown and on the express routes. However, the cat is, at least the structure, about 100 years old and has been damaged in the past by freight derailments. They are doing work at the yard area in Grant Park, but I'm not aware of a wholesale replacement as yet. If MED ever were to extend to Kankakee then it would be worthwhile to do replacement with addition of new territory.
 

MARC Rider

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Also, what is the need for constant tension cat unless you plan to go well above 100mph? Seems like a huge project that has limited upside unless they REALLY want to crank the top speeds on the SSL

The Baltimore Light Rail uses constant tension catenary, and its speeds don't exceed 50 mph. There must have been an advantage to using it, even for such low-speed operations, or they wouldn't have installed it.
 

NES28

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Superliners can run past the CUS mail platforms (as the Empire Builder consist often does, on the way to/from the yard), they just can't board there. In other threads it has been noted that the Superliners may eventually be replaced by single-deck cars since an ADA-compliant double-deck design may well not be feasible.
 

jis

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The Baltimore Light Rail uses constant tension catenary, and its speeds don't exceed 50 mph. There must have been an advantage to using it, even for such low-speed operations, or they wouldn't have installed it.
You are right. I am literally not aware of anybody that build non-constant tension catenary anymore these days irrespective of the speed, well maybe except some street cars with trolleys.

It should be noted that no one will mistake Metro North for a high speed operation in Connecticut and yet they have converted their entire electrification to constant tension.
 

Touchdowntom9

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You are right. I am literally not aware of anybody that build non-constant tension catenary anymore these days irrespective of the speed, well maybe except some street cars with trolleys.

It should be noted that no one will mistake Metro North for a high speed operation in Connecticut and yet they have converted their entire electrification to constant tension.
From my original question, I wasn't really questioning the constant tension catenary, I was more so asking why it needed to be upgraded given there is already catenary presently installed. Seems like the answer is simply that its so old it needs replacing and might as well make it constant.

But now that I think about it--Amtrak wouldn't want to contribute to that upgrade would they? The power is currently DC overhead, and their Chicago rolling stock is diesel. Even if they used their dual mode rolling stock in the future, that is designed for exclusively AC power if I am not mistaken, so I would assume that part of that replacement would involve a conversion to AC overhead or I would doubt that Amtrak would be willing to support it.
 

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Given the limited but non 0 amount of freight that travels on the SSL, for some of the higher degree turns on that track that currently cause slow downs, would they ever consider building a siding for those freight trains at those turns so that they could have a more super-elevated track exclusively for those passenger trains? That would hypothetically let them continue to share the track w freight but keep the passenger trains running as close to top speed for as long as possible. Or am I talking crazy?
 
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Given the limited but non 0 amount of freight that travels on the SSL, for some of the higher degree turns on that track that currently cause slow downs, would they ever consider building a siding for those freight trains at those turns so that they could have a more super-elevated track exclusively for those passenger trains? That would hypothetically let them continue to share the track w freight but keep the passenger trains running as close to top speed for as long as possible. Or am I talking crazy?
There are already a few freight sidings iirc - I don't think they run freight east of Mineral Springs Road.
From my original question, I wasn't really questioning the constant tension catenary, I was more so asking why it needed to be upgraded given there is already catenary presently installed. Seems like the answer is simply that its so old it needs replacing and might as well make it constant.

But now that I think about it--Amtrak wouldn't want to contribute to that upgrade would they? The power is currently DC overhead, and their Chicago rolling stock is diesel. Even if they used their dual mode rolling stock in the future, that is designed for exclusively AC power if I am not mistaken, so I would assume that part of that replacement would involve a conversion to AC overhead or I would doubt that Amtrak would be willing to support it.
I wouldn't think they wouldn't contribute. If it isn't totally clear (I don't think it's decided yet anyway) Amtrak would, I assume, continue to run on CN to Kensington and then on NICTD to South Bend. CN isn't electrified although it runs next to MED which, obviously, is. I don't think they were planning on changing rolling stock for this other than any future orders - which sounds like dual modes will be included in that. Nor do I think they would electrify the CN tracks. Biggest bang for the buck there would be reinstating double track on the St. Charles Air Line and access improvements to that to speed up traffic at the north end of the ROW.
 

west point

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You are right. I am literally not aware of anybody that build non-constant tension catenary anymore these days irrespective of the speed, well maybe except some street cars with trolleys.
Tell me if I am wrong. Last time at BOS south station all tracks just had a single wire trolly wire to the bumper post. No weights at bumper cannot remember how often trolly wire was between overhead connection posts.
 

jis

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Tell me if I am wrong. Last time at BOS south station all tracks just had a single wire trolly wire to the bumper post. No weights at bumper cannot remember how often trolly wire was between overhead connection posts.
I was not talking about yard and station trackage in the text that was quoted above.
 

Touchdowntom9

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Is there a reason why Amtrak would continue to use freight rail lines vs SSL/Electric district ROW? Sure they would use diesel rollingstock for the immediate future, but I cant imagine the CN track is a higher quality or is their dispatch treating them well. I also don't think that the Electric district is constrained by capacity especially given that Amtrak wouldn't be running 10 extra trains per day on that track. Getting Amtrak to use until Kensington and then switching over to SSL for all their east bound trains eliminates so many issues for them in terms of reliability and Metra could very easily request Amtrak make a number of key track improvements prior to getting access to that line.

That line to Kensington is so straight, I don't think you should be going below 79mph for any of it unless you are making a station stop (which amtrak shouldnt). If that's not the case, then Amtrak can make the needed improvements to get it to be the case. Either way, unless you plan to build a viaduct over the NS chicago ROW or buy them out (impossible), then they need to get off the freight track as much as possible as soon as possible.
 

Touchdowntom9

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This is frustrating because Amtrak doesn't need to build a bullet train to increase their ridership in Chicago--getting off the freight ROW and thereby eliminating 90% of the delays getting in/out of Chicago would make it a superior transit option to driving during rush hour, and the ROW/Infrastructure is right there for them to use!
 
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GDRRiley

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The plan in Chicago is to reuse the currently disused high level mail platforms for single level trains and continue using the low level platforms for low level doors bi-level equipment. So use of one does not preclude the use of the other. and for Superliners catenary clearance remains a bit of a problem as I understand it. Maybe some clever use of ceiling rails instead of catenary will be workable.
The clearance for centenary needed is smaller if we'd just adopt Europe or the UK regs. AREMA recommendations seem to be pulled out of thin air or are based on 1940s standards

This is standard for the UK with the option to go even tighter
1668735917537.png
 

TransitTyrant

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Is there a reason why Amtrak would continue to use freight rail lines vs SSL/Electric district ROW? Sure they would use diesel rollingstock for the immediate future, but I cant imagine the CN track is a higher quality or is their dispatch treating them well. I also don't think that the Electric district is constrained by capacity especially given that Amtrak wouldn't be running 10 extra trains per day on that track. Getting Amtrak to use until Kensington and then switching over to SSL for all their east bound trains eliminates so many issues for them in terms of reliability and Metra could very easily request Amtrak make a number of key track improvements prior to getting access to that line.

That line to Kensington is so straight, I don't think you should be going below 79mph for any of it unless you are making a station stop (which amtrak shouldnt). If that's not the case, then Amtrak can make the needed improvements to get it to be the case. Either way, unless you plan to build a viaduct over the NS chicago ROW or buy them out (impossible), then they need to get off the freight track as much as possible as soon as possible.
The CN track is higher quality, the ME track has way too many slow turnouts and crossovers. CN barely runs any freight over that stretch anyway, why route Amtrak onto potentially congested commuter tracks, a commuter line with weird service patterns too.

It was also mentioned that Amtrak or some other public entity might purchase the CN tracks from Kennigston north. Perhaps buying the Air Line is also in the picture? Either way we’ll know more if this project is selected to move forward.
 
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The CN track is higher quality, the ME track has way too many slow turnouts and crossovers. CN barely runs any freight over that stretch anyway, why route Amtrak onto potentially congested commuter tracks, a commuter line with weird service patterns too.

It was also mentioned that Amtrak or some other public entity might purchase the CN tracks from Kennigston north. Perhaps buying the Air Line is also in the picture? Either way we’ll know more if this project is selected to move forward.

All this plus running past stations would slow the trains - and with Amtrak's scheduling it would impact Metra's best performing line if a train came through at a weird time. The Amtrak trains already cruise through the south side at pretty fast speeds - it's quite impressive seeing them zipping and zooming by from the street up on the viaduct. Plus they would need to build a connection to the air line at McPlace from MED which doesn't exist - why not just continue to use the tracks they do now?
 

Touchdowntom9

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All this plus running past stations would slow the trains - and with Amtrak's scheduling it would impact Metra's best performing line if a train came through at a weird time. The Amtrak trains already cruise through the south side at pretty fast speeds - it's quite impressive seeing them zipping and zooming by from the street up on the viaduct. Plus they would need to build a connection to the air line at McPlace from MED which doesn't exist - why not just continue to use the tracks they do now?
Any idea what the MOS is getting out of Chicago on that route? Seems like the schedule is so padded that they could travel at 10mph and still make the first/last stop on time
 

Touchdowntom9

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The CN lakefront line is 70mph while over the airline is currently about 10 but will be ~30 once all the track is realigned.
Is that due to geometry or because CN owns and sets the track standard on it? Seems like if Amtrak bought it outright they could get it to class 5 or 6 even
 
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