Ambitious restoration and transformation in the Chicago area

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neroden

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Amtrak plans for substantial speed upgrades on the NICTD from Michigan City as far as Hegewisch. Lengthy stretches of 90 to 110 MPH. Probably raised speeds east of Michigan City as well, I haven't come across any detailed plan for that yet.

The curves from Gary to Kensington cannot be improved significantly. And don't underestimate the potential delays at Kensington.

Even if Amtrak relaid the NYC from Englewood to Whiting, that does nothing to resolve the freight interference from there to Elkhart. Those delays alone likely exceed any problematic curves on an upgraded NICTD-- and at any rate Amtrak's engineering department has already done the calculations to show it!

Agreed. The South Shore Line should be a faster route from Gary through South Bend. It's only possible once the South Shore Line finishes their double tracking project (still in progress); trying to fit Amtrak in on the single-track line would have messed up the schedule way too badly.

Unfortunately, the currently-funded double-tracking is only as far as Michigan City; so the Michigan trains could use the South Shore Line as soon as it's done, but the LSL and CL can't until double tracking is done from Michigan City to South Bend.

Unfortunately, a lot of NS's dispatching mess is *east* of South Bend, for which none of this will help. The extension of passenger-exclusive tracks to Elkhart would be necessary, and probably further east, too.

Anyway, buy the tracks whenever possible...
 

jis

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Perhaps Kensington needs to get a flying junction if all this comes to pass..

The NS mess begins from east of Elkhart at the junction with the line coming in from Michigan. But still being able to avoid west of South Bend would be a huge improvement.

I guess the opportunity should be taken to get the South Bend Station platform(two tracks) off of the NS Main Line. There is ample space. Perhaps a single track from South Bend station could go east as far as the west end of CP Bend to join the NS Main there. Afterall, the only traffic on this at least for now would be the LSL and the CL.

More intriguingly, there is space to extend that all the way to Union Station and have it join the main line just east of it! But that is getting us away from this thread to the old South Bend thread.
 
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Other than adding additional double tracking to the South Shore Line, would there be additional upgrades needed to the roadbed to accomodate much longer and, I presume, heavier Amtrak trains?
Certainly around Burns Harbor (Mittal, formerly Bethlehem and USS steel mills) has handled heavy freight on NICTD - not sure how far east of Mineral Springs Road they would run freight, but certainly west of there Amtrak should be no problem - at least weight-wise.

The South Shore Line has always handled quite a bit of freight historically.
 

zephyr17

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Only thing heavy about an Amtrak train would be the locomotives. The cars themselves would not be a whole lot heavier than the South Shore MUs in a railroad context. Both are mostly empty space, as opposed to, say, a loaded coal car, or coiled steel on a flat car.
 

jis

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Other than adding additional double tracking to the South Shore Line, would there be additional upgrades needed to the roadbed to accomodate much longer and, I presume, heavier Amtrak trains?
I believe CSS is 286K compliant over most if not all of its main line trackage. Weight of Amtrak trains should not be an issue.
 

Crowbar_k

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So, about that new St. Charles Air Line ramp. My question is, where on earth is it going to go?
1655226431091.png

It just does not look like there is any room to install a new bridge, unless they can take a few storage tracks out of service.
 

Crowbar_k

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Honestly, I think there is a much simpler solution: use Millenium Station. Sure, not all amtrak services won't be in the same place, but that's already the case in Boston. I feel there are very few people who make connections anyway. Not only that, but Millenium station is in a much more convenient location for passengers, just steps away from hotels and attractions.
 
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Cannot tell for sure. Is the north bascle permantly raised?. I see no tracks going to it.
Yes, permanently raised... (as above I see)

So, about that new St. Charles Air Line ramp. My question is, where on earth is it going to go?


It just does not look like there is any room to install a new bridge, unless they can take a few storage tracks out of service.
I believe that they will remove the maint. bldg. for the track - they are planning a new maintenance building possibly demolishing the Union Station Power Plant (further north - north of Roosevelt) which has become a bit of a cause among deco aficionados and preservationists in Chicago. If I'm understanding operations, it also to some degree frees up other tracks going west too.

Honestly, I think there is a much simpler solution: use Millenium Station. Sure, not all amtrak services won't be in the same place, but that's already the case in Boston. I feel there are very few people who make connections anyway. Not only that, but Millenium station is in a much more convenient location for passengers, just steps away from hotels and attractions.
No room at the inn. Lots of reasons why it won't work, but the heavy Metra service really won't allow much else there - there's a train at least every ten minutes in or out from rush hour to rush hour (NICTD has their own platforms as it is). Unless Amtrak is planning on dual modes the diesels won't work there. Plus Amtrak would have to double up on maintenance staff, facilities, ticketing, etc. Trains would still have to go over the airline for heavy service so it makes sense to centralize it all.

I'm sure if the Downeaster could run to South Station in Boston Amtrak would be there rather than have two terminals.
 

MisterUptempo

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So, about that new St. Charles Air Line ramp. My question is, where on earth is it going to go?

It just does not look like there is any room to install a new bridge, unless they can take a few storage tracks out of service.
I'll repost this draft from a couple pages ago-
CeivHpV.jpg

It appears that trains will use the eastern approach to the Air Line bridge, cross the Chicago River on that bridge, then utilize parts of the western approaches of both the Air Line and B&O Chicago Terminal bridges, making a slow turn north, and descending onto the westernmost lead track into Union Station.

ETA - It is entirely possible that using the B&O bridge was never an option in the first place. In the draft, you'll notice at the very bottom of the illustration a series of boxes on the eastern bank of the river. Those are placeholders for buildings Related Midwest intends to construct on the property, now called "The 78". One placeholder clearly sits within the former right of way of what was the eastern approach to the B&O bridge. So, it's possible it's considered abandoned and ownership of that land transferred to Related.

Some tracks in the yard will require relocation and one or two will need to be removed. As for the yard space this project will take out of service, Amtrak intends to acquire UP's Canal Street Yard, located at the intersection of Canal Street, 23rd Street, and Archer Avenue, about 3/5 of a mile south of the Air Line.
 
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Crowbar_k

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I'll repost this draft from a couple pages ago-
CeivHpV.jpg

It appears that trains will use the eastern approach to the Air Line bridge, cross the Chicago River on that bridge, then utilize parts of the western approaches of both the Air Line and B&O Chicago Terminal bridges, making a slow turn north, and descending onto the westernmost lead track into Union Station.

ETA - It is entirely possible that using the B&O bridge was never an option in the first place. In the draft, you'll notice at the very bottom of the illustration a series of boxes on the eastern bank of the river. Those are placeholders for buildings Related Midwest intends to construct on the property, now called "The 78". One placeholder clearly sits within the former right of way of what was the eastern approach to the B&O bridge. So, it's possible it's considered abandoned and ownership of that land transferred to Related.

Some tracks in the yard will require relocation and one or two will need to be removed. As for the yard space this project will take out of service, Amtrak intends to acquire UP's Canal Street Yard, located at the intersection of Canal Street, 23rd Street, and Archer Avenue, about 3/5 of a mile south of the Air Line.
I could be wrong, but doesn't the yard on the west side of the mainline tracks belong to Metra?
 

jis

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I'm sure if the Downeaster could run to South Station in Boston Amtrak would be there rather than have two terminals.
Indeed! The huge counter example to maintaining two separate terminal stations is New York, where a large sum of money was spent to consolidate Amtrak operations at a single station. There is next to zero chance that Amtrak will contemplate splitting operations into two stations in Chicago.
 

Crowbar_k

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Indeed! The huge counter example to maintaining two separate terminal stations is New York, where a large sum of money was spent to consolidate Amtrak operations at a single station. There is next to zero chance that Amtrak will contemplate splitting operations into two stations in Chicago.
Yeah. It all makes sense now that I've thought about it more. However, I do think a new platform should be built at 55th-56th-57th street to serve Amtrak trains, especially if that line is about to get a lot more passenger traffic.
 

jis

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MisterUptempo

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A good concise explanatory blog from the High Speed Rail Alliance:


So the layout at Joliet will involve Amtrak use a platform quite far from the headhouse, a platform adjacent to the old Rock Island METRA stop, before entering the sharp curve to join the line to St. Louis?
Thanks for the link. I was about to post it myself. Here is a direct link to the application filed by Amtrak and the rest of the group for the funding.

I do notice, among other things, the one track Air Line connector is to be viewed as an interim solution, holding out the possibility of either an expanded connector or an entirely new bridge at some point in the future.

Regarding the new Joliet platform, I think it's a matter of making the best of a bad situation. The curve leading from the Rock Island onto the UP tracks already exists. Considering the location of the current Metra platform and the UP tracks being the two eastern tracks heading out of Joliet, I'm not sure a turn could have been built that works. If UP occupied the two western tracks, instead of BNSF, then maybe.

It would be nice, if at all possible, to get a look at the attachments and appendices that were part of the application. They'd probably answer a lot of the questions being asked at the moment.

11081444_543516459123689_5477205295368084202_n.jpg
img src - industrialscenery.blogspot.com
 

rs9

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A quick thought on the potential for Lake Shore Limited route changes from Chicago to South Bend: on 49/449, the inevitable NS delays don't feel like an issue until the train passes South Bend and the next station is the final destination - and that of everyone on the train...and the train crawls along all too frequently. Perception wise, a fast final segment would do a world of good.
 

west point

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I have seen very few on time arrivals at SOB for trains leaving CUS. That is for only on time departures from CHI. Mechanical probllems after logging out of CUS also were not counted.
 
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Improved flow from the Airline will benefit Metra as well as Amtrak - I'm sure they can make allowance for track movement in the yard. Interesting that we've now confirmed that Amtrak would use CN rather than Metra.

Interesting report on the S-bahn type service (which keeps getting floated). I'm not a huge fan of the idea at the moment because I fear it would take away service from the loop (although in theory CUS is slightly closer to my office).

Is a curve that big of a deal if it's immediately adjacent to a station stop?
 

neroden

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So, about that new St. Charles Air Line ramp. My question is, where on earth is it going to go?
View attachment 28629

It just does not look like there is any room to install a new bridge, unless they can take a few storage tracks out of service.
It's basically landing between the Metra tracks curving to the West and the Amtrak tracks heading straight south. It'll remove one or two of those, and I'm not sure which ones, but Amtrak doesn't really need three tracks heading straight south if they're *rerouting all the Amtrak trains which currently head straight south over the new St Charles Air Line Bridge*, so it'll probably remove one of those.
 

neroden

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No room at the inn. Lots of reasons why it won't work, but the heavy Metra service really won't allow much else there - there's a train at least every ten minutes in or out from rush hour to rush hour (NICTD has their own platforms as it is). Unless Amtrak is planning on dual modes the diesels won't work there. Plus Amtrak would have to double up on maintenance staff, facilities, ticketing, etc. Trains would still have to go over the airline for heavy service so it makes sense to centralize it all.

Of course Millennium Station is not viable. But I'll be punchy and suggest that while Amtrak is building all of this stuff on the St Charles Air Line, Amtrak should add a stop at McCormick Place. There's room (though all those columns supporting the building might be a problem).
 

neroden

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Some tracks in the yard will require relocation and one or two will need to be removed. As for the yard space this project will take out of service, Amtrak intends to acquire UP's Canal Street Yard, located at the intersection of Canal Street, 23rd Street, and Archer Avenue, about 3/5 of a mile south of the Air Line.
So this is interesting; it means Amtrak would still be crossing that low Pennsy drawbridge over the Chicago River *for yard moves*, but not for *revenue* moves. Seems like an improvement definitely.
 

rs9

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Improved flow from the Airline will benefit Metra as well as Amtrak - I'm sure they can make allowance for track movement in the yard. Interesting that we've now confirmed that Amtrak would use CN rather than Metra.

Interesting report on the S-bahn type service (which keeps getting floated). I'm not a huge fan of the idea at the moment because I fear it would take away service from the loop (although in theory CUS is slightly closer to my office).

Is a curve that big of a deal if it's immediately adjacent to a station stop?
For CN vs Metra tracks running parallel: can the Superliners fit under the catenary?
 
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