Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

NKP 765 Plans CVSR Trips, Chicago Excursions

March 6, 2018

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 is planning to come to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this year although no dates have yet been announced.

That news was buried in the last sentence of a news release announcing an excursion for the 765 in Chicago on Sept. 15 and 16.

The release said that the CVSR excursions were being planned for “later this year.”

As for the Chicago trips, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said the Berkshire-type steam locomotive will pull trips named the Joliet Rocket over former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific trackage between Joliet, Illinois, and Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station twice daily on both days.

The society said that each trip will have food, cocktails and live music. Passengers are encouraged to dress in vintage-style clothes

FtWRHS members may begin buying tickets on April 2 with sales opening to everyone else on April 4. No ticket prices have been disclosed.

The Chicago excursions drew more than 2,500 passengers in 2017 from 30 states.

FtWRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch said this year’s excursions will have a longer layover time, an improved catering service and more dome cars.

The society said the Joliet Rocket will be among the 765’s last mainline excursions until it installs positive train control technology on the locomotive.

The Chicago excursions will use tracks owned by Chicago commuter rail agency Metra.

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Cleveland to Chicago in 28 Minutes?

February 21, 2018

A California company has proposed building a hyperloop between Cleveland and Chicago that would cover the distance in 28 minutes.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinating Agency, and the Illinois Department of Transportation plan to study potential hyperloop routes between Chicago and Cleveland.

“We came here because places like Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh have the manufacturing, the raw materials and the talented, hard working people in order to make it happen,” said Andrea La Mendola, chief global operations officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Funding for the Chicago-Cleveland study has not yet been funded but was touted in an agreement between between the developer and the government agencies.

If undertaken, the study could take up to a year and will include a look at right-of-ways along northern Ohio interstates and rail lines. The study will also examine costs and potential ridership.

Another company, Virgin Hyperloop One, has proposed routes linking Columbus with Chicago and Pittsburgh.

That plan is being organized in part by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and is one of 10 finalists in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.

The Columbus-Chicago route would cover the distance in 29 minutes while the Columbus-Pittsburgh route would do it in 18 minutes.

A hyperloop uses a vacuum-sealed tunnel and magnets to propel passenger cars. In theory, people could travel inside a hyperloop at 700 miles an hour.

The Ohio Senate passed a non-binding resolution last September supporting the Columbus hyperloop efforts, but did not agree to fund it.

Indiana May Repeal Light Rail Ban for Indianapolis

January 26, 2018

In an effort to woo a $5 billion Amazon headquarters, the Indiana General Assembly is moving to repeal a law banning light rail from the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

A House committee voted 11-1 this week in favor of legislation to repeal a 2014 law that bars state or local governments from spending money on light rail projects in the seven-county region surrounding Indianapolis.

The effort to repeal the law gained impetus when Amazon recently named Indianapolis one of 20 finalists for its second headquarters.

Also on the list are Chicago, Pittsburgh and Columbus. Cleveland applied for the headquarters but did not make the latest cut.

One of the criteria being used by Amazon to choose what is being termed HQ2 is good public transportation, including rail transportation.

Indianapolis has a bus system but not a rail transit system and there are no current plans to create one.

Amazon is headquartered in Seattle. Dozens of cities in the United States and Canada are eagerly seeking the Amazon headquarters because it promises to provide more than 50,000 jobs with average salaries of more than $100,000 annually.

“Transit is a very major factor for a lot of these major companies that are looking to move here,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis).

The 2014 law banning light rail was rooted in a belief by fiscal conservatives that a light rail system would require a taxpayer bailout due to its high costs.

The conservative lawmakers demanded the light rail ban as the price for their support of a measure to allow Indiana counties to increase incomes taxes through referendum for public transit projects.

STB Rejects Bid to Build Chicago Bypass

September 1, 2017

The proposed Chicago freight bypass has been stopped dead in its tracks.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board unanimously rejected the proposal of Great Lakes Basin Transportation Company to build the bypass railroad between northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.
The STB said it acted due to the lack of information about GLBT’s finances and operations.

“[Great Lakes’] current assets of $151 are so clearly deficient for purposes of constructing a 261-mile rail line that the Board will not proceed with this application given the impacts on stakeholders and the demands upon Board resources,” the STB said in its decision.

The Board’s action halts the environmental review process of the project as well as disallows GLBT from purchasing property and starting construction.

News reports indicated that the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning GLBT could seek STB approval later for the same or a similar project.

GLBT Founder Owns Most of the Company

June 14, 2017

It turns out that the founder of a company seeking to build a railroad bypass around Chicago owns most of the company.

A recent filing with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board disclosed that Frank Patton, the founder and chairman of Great Lakes Basin Transportation, owns 87.2 percent of the company.

Shareholder Jim Wilson owns 5 percent of the company with 22 other shareholders having smaller ownership shares.

GLBT had sought to shield its ownership structure from public view, but the STB rejected that earlier this year and ordered it to show who owns the company.

The proposed rail bypass would extend from northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

The STB is not expected to approve or reject GLBT’s application for authority to build the line until later this year.

NKP 765 Trip Tickets Nearly Sold Out

June 2, 2017

Tickets for the June 17 and 18 excursions in Chicago behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 are almost sold out.

The restored Berkshire steam engine will pull trips from Joliet, Illinois, to Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station over tracks owned by Metra and once used by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, which owns the locomotive, said that half of the trips are sold out.

These include both Saturday trips. Earlier this week there were about 100 tickets left for the Sunday trips.

Hickory Creek to run on NKP 765 Excursions

April 29, 2017

Former New York Central observation car Hickory Creek will be part of the consist of the Joliet Rocket, the excursion train to be pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765  on June 17 and 18 between Joliet and Chicago.

Tickets to ride in the Hickory Creek are limited and are priced at $219.

The Hickory Creek once operated on the Chicago-New York 20th Century Limited.

The car is being made available through a special charter by Headwaters Junction, Inc.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said some tickets remain in economy coach, deluxe coach and first class on select dates and times for the excursions.

CUS Gets Emerging Projects Agreement

January 14, 2017

The City of Chicago is joining with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Amtrak, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority to create an emerging projects agreement that they hope will be able to land $1 billion in federal funding to modernize Chicago Union Station.

Chicago Union StationBy creating the EmPA, the DOT will be able to provide technical assistance for obtaining federal credit through the Build America Bureau’s innovative programs.

The redevelopment of Union Station is a public-private partnership that is seeking to rehabilitate the depot for passengers as well as foster commercial developments surrounding the station.

Amtrak Opens New Lounge in Chicago

June 25, 2016

Amtrak has opened a new Metropolitan Lounge for sleeping car and business class passengers passing through Chicago Union Station.

The new lounge is two stories, can seat 360 and with 13,500 square feet is more than twice the size of the existing lounge it will replace.

Amtrak 4Access to the lounge is from the station’s Great Hall as well as street level. It is located in a section of the station that has been vacant for more than 40 years.

City officials said that when work began on renovating the space, workers found ticket stubs on the floor from 40 years ago.

Project architect Leonard Koroski of Goeetsch Partners described the new lounge as having five separate “neighborhoods” for passengers including a common entrance area, a business area with computer work stations, a family area with a children’s play space, a “millennial area” featuring high-backed chairs to accommodate those on cell phones and other tech-friendly features, and a pair of “quiet” spaces.

The new lounge was built in just under five months and cost $7 million.

In 2015, Amtrak opened the extra fee Legacy Club in space once used as a men’s lounge.

A former women’s lounge is being transformed into an event space that can accommodate up to 300 people.

The previous Metropolitan Lounge, which opened in 1991, will be gutted and is expected to become a pre-boarding area that will enable Amtrak to expand its crowded concourse level.

NS Won’t Support Chicago Bypass Project

June 1, 2016

Norfolk Southern will not support an effort by a group seeking to construct a railroad bypass around Chicago.

In a letter to the U.S. Surface Board of Transportation, NS said it would not work with Great Lakes Basin Transportation, which has proposed building a 278-mile route linking Indiana and Wisconsin that would run south and west of Chicago.

NS logo 1Great Lakes Basin contends that the line would help alleviate freight congestion in Chicago.

Earlier, Union Pacific had said it, too, is not interested in working with Great Lakes Basin to create the $8 billion rail line.

In its letter to the STB, NS said it would focus on improving its own tracks.

The STB is currently taking public comments as part of an environmental impact statement regarding the project.

“Norfolk Southern has a robust route network, with multiple routes into and out of the Chicago area and also owns its own bypass route that runs directly to Kansas City,” NS wrote. “For this reason, we are not inclined to think that the proposed Great Lakes Basin route would work well with our system or that we would be a user of the route.”