Chicago Metra Electric District (MED) speed increases?

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Came across this article - from an advocacy group - about MED getting a pretty massive speed increase at some point in the future. I know that when the new Highliners came online a few years back, one of the supposed advantages was better braking which would increase speeds, but I don't know that it was every implemented after that (in fact, I'm certain that it wasn't....).

https://chi.streetsblog.org/2024/03...ks-to-increase-electric-line-speeds-to-90-mph
 
That story includes several links, one of which is Sandhouse Rail Group at Northwestern University: https://transportation.northwestern.edu/news-events/sandhouse-rail-group/

On 2/28/24, Sandhouse hosted Metra and NICTD updates, which included a lot of information about this project.

Short answer: There's a lot of work to do to increase speeds safely. They weren't even sure just how much work. Now they have a better idea, but there may be more surprises ahead.

Presentation slides: https://transportation.northwestern.edu/docs/sandhouse-2024-final-derwinski.pdf
Video:
 
Have to wonder if the 1500 volt system will need some upgrading to handle the higher electrical loads with the eventual 90 MPH? Have to hope that the next EMU order for METRA electric will add provision for the units to be compatible to use 60 hZ AC power. IMO that will be necessary once eventual HSR is installed into CHI.
 
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Have to wonder if the 1500 volt system will need some upgrading to handle the higher electrical loads with the eventual 90 MPH? Have to hope that the next EMU order for METRA electric will add provision for the units to be compatible to use 60 hZ AC power. IMO that will be necessary once eventual HSR is installed into CHI.
Signaling work and replacing some older OCS segments were the 2 biggest projects. I heard 0 mention of power upgrades.
 
Have to wonder if the 1500 volt system will need some upgrading to handle the higher electrical loads with the eventual 90 MPH? Have to hope that the next EMU order for METRA electric will add provision for the units to be compatible to use 60 hZ AC power. IMO that will be necessary once eventual HSR is installed into CHI.
Metra has been adding new substations along the line for the past few years. I imagine that would at least partially suffice for power needs.
 
It probably makes sense to keep Metra Electric at 1500v DC. It will be much easier to electrify Chicago Union Station using that, rather than high voltage AC, given the tight clearances. Given the number of European HS trains with mixed power capabilities this is, apparently, not difficult.
 
It probably makes sense to keep Metra Electric at 1500v DC. It will be much easier to electrify Chicago Union Station using that, rather than high voltage AC, given the tight clearances. Given the number of European HS trains with mixed power capabilities this is, apparently, not difficult.
Metra Electric doesn't serve Union Station, it serves Millenium Station, which in many ways reminds me of Suburban Station in Phildelphia. They seem to be able to handle 12 kv AC perfectly well in Suburban Station.
 
It probably makes sense to keep Metra Electric at 1500v DC. It will be much easier to electrify Chicago Union Station using that, rather than high voltage AC, given the tight clearances. Given the number of European HS trains with mixed power capabilities this is, apparently, not difficult.
If you think Amtrak which owns CHI Union Station will go with 1500 V DC find that very hard to even give it half consideration. Amtrak wants less different power types not more. 1500 Volt DC on Metra and South Shore is a one off now not used any else in North America. If you look closely at the double tracking of South Shore, the hangers, insulators, and etc all appear very similar to Amtrak's and NJ Transit's 25 kV 60 hZ installations. The SS contact wire does appear to be thicker which will be needed for 1500 V. ,Even the constant tension replacements on the PRR also appear the same 25 kV CAT with thicker contact wire.

Will conversion happen soon? Not likely. Imagine that conversion will get a grant for Metra and SS when actual Amtrak or South of the Lake gets built for Airos construction that will have METRA and SS interact with some Amtrak electrification.

NJ Transit converted all the Lackawanna DC track to 25 kV AC in about a years' time.
 
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The answer will be for replacement SS and Metra electric new equipment have space, be wired, and insulated for dual voltage future service. The transformers, rectifiers, inverters need not even be bought and / or installed until conversion is close at hand,

Any CAT work or repair could be set up for 25 kV 60 Hz at minimum extra cost.
 
Just a reminder that the current crop of highliners are only a few years old and aren't likely to be (or need) replaced for a long time. Depending upon the popularity of NICTD's new Munster line they may need to acquire a few new EMU's, but they'll match existing specs.
 
Just a reminder that the current crop of highliners are only a few years old and aren't likely to be (or need) replaced for a long time. Depending upon the popularity of NICTD's new Munster line they may need to acquire a few new EMU's, but they'll match existing specs.
They own very few highliners but are leasing quite a few
Really though the 1980 built single level cars should be replaced. At which point go with ~30 4 car KISS sets
 
I wonder if MED speed increases will lead to Amtrak routing LSL, CL, and Michigan services to MED/SSL ROW. This chapter on a 2014 draft environmental impact statement for improving the Chicago-Detroit corridor (Wolverine) mentioned speed restrictions being the main reason NICTD ROW is of the question.

Combined with (hopefully) a future St Charles Air Line direct connection to Union Station, this feels like the most logical route to me. Different passenger rail services sharing the same track might create less conflict than sharing with freight and their different scheduling demands.
 
I wonder if MED speed increases will lead to Amtrak routing LSL, CL, and Michigan services to MED/SSL ROW. This chapter on a 2014 draft environmental impact statement for improving the Chicago-Detroit corridor (Wolverine) mentioned speed restrictions being the main reason NICTD ROW is of the question.

Combined with (hopefully) a future St Charles Air Line direct connection to Union Station, this feels like the most logical route to me. Different passenger rail services sharing the same track might create less conflict than sharing with freight and their different scheduling demands.
Metra Electric no, SSL east of Kensington is certainly on the table and being discussed. Since that EIS the SSL has completely double tracked their line and raised the speed in places.
 
I wonder if MED speed increases will lead to Amtrak routing LSL, CL, and Michigan services to MED/SSL ROW. This chapter on a 2014 draft environmental impact statement for improving the Chicago-Detroit corridor (Wolverine) mentioned speed restrictions being the main reason NICTD ROW is of the question.

Combined with (hopefully) a future St Charles Air Line direct connection to Union Station, this feels like the most logical route to me. Different passenger rail services sharing the same track might create less conflict than sharing with freight and their different scheduling demands.

Amtrak will never run on MED, however, additional Amtrak could run on the adjacent CN tracks which already host Amtrak.
 
Amtrak will never run on MED, however, additional Amtrak could run on the adjacent CN tracks which already host Amtrak.
True. Even if LSL etc. are moved to NICTD, they will probably run on CN tracks to Kensington and not MED. They'll have to put in a crossover or two to get Amtrak over to NICT. AFAICT at present there is no way to get to NICTD from the CN tracks if Google Satellite View isn't lying.
 
Switching from CN Lakefront to NICTD makes sense. HSR Alliance's page shows connecting the two to be on the wishlist along with the St Charles Air Line renovation. Maybe it'll happen with the FY25 grant request. 🤞😂😔

I finally got around to listening to the full Sandhouse video and their Q&A section. Someone asks about running Amtrak on SSL track. Mike Noland mentioned that they're space constrained on triple tracking due to going through National Parks Service land. Wonder if there's any future potential of acquiring more ROW through that. The overall sentiment of sharing passenger services on passenger corridors is echoed quite a bit.
 
Switching from CN Lakefront to NICTD makes sense. HSR Alliance's page shows connecting the two to be on the wishlist along with the St Charles Air Line renovation. Maybe it'll happen with the FY25 grant request. 🤞😂😔

I finally got around to listening to the full Sandhouse video and their Q&A section. Someone asks about running Amtrak on SSL track. Mike Noland mentioned that they're space constrained on triple tracking due to going through National Parks Service land. Wonder if there's any future potential of acquiring more ROW through that. The overall sentiment of sharing passenger services on passenger corridors is echoed quite a bit.
Given the total traffic that is projected for NICTD and Amtrak should Amtrak run on NICTD tracks, triple tracking the entire thing seems to be a gross overkill. At most a few passing loops should suffice, given a double track railroad.
 
True. Even if LSL etc. are moved to NICTD, they will probably run on CN tracks to Kensington and not MED. They'll have to put in a crossover or two to get Amtrak over to NICT. AFAICT at present there is no way to get to NICTD from the CN tracks if Google Satellite View isn't lying.
Are you sure there isn't (whether the switches are active at the moment is another thing) but NICDT has to cross CN to get to MED and it looks like there are connections not just crossings. It's kind of confusing to follow the tracks here but it looks like there are crossovers to get from NICTD across CN to MED. I remember NICTD stopping at Kensington long ago, but the furthest south they stop on the mainline is now 63rd which is the furthest south two platform station since NICTD runs on the outside express tracks.

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Given the total traffic that is projected for NICTD and Amtrak should Amtrak run on NICTD tracks, triple tracking the entire thing seems to be a gross overkill. At most a few passing loops should suffice, given a double track railroad.
It's double-tracked to between Mineral Springs Road and Waverly Road (and multitracked to just west of Mineral Springs Road for freight operations before dropping back to single track to the west) - the overall ROW itself is wide through the National Lakeshore - can't bring myself to recognize it as a National Park which now charges fee's - with the bike trail and multiple sets of high-tension powerlines. There are all kinds of connections to the steel mills and other railroads (including current/former Amtrak routes) in Burns Harbor. Triple-track seems like total overkill to me as well.
 
There is no crossover from that track to NICTD, or at least none that I could find. It goes into some freight yard.
Isn't that track with the yellow arrow NICTD? It's double-tracked at Hegewisch and west to that image and it looks like there are wires over the tracks there to connect with MED.
 
Isn't that track with the yellow arrow NICTD? It's double-tracked at Hegewisch and west to that image and it looks like there are wires over the tracks there to connect with MED.
Gantries over the track means nothing, since it is not uncommon for non-electrified track that shares ROW with electrified track often has gantries across them for civil engineering convenience.. You need to carefully follow the track and see how it is connected by tracks. Wires are not visible and are useless for this analysis.

But in some sense this discussion is also a silly waste of time since all that we will determine at the end of it is whether one lousy crossover needs to be built or not. :D
 
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