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.


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.

PUCO OKs Grade Crossing Work in 5 Counties

November 28, 2017

Grade crossing improvement projects have been approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Fulton, Hardin, Medina, Portage and Stark counties.

In Fulton County, Norfolk Southern will upgrade light and gate circuitry, including new LED lights at the South Munson Road grade crossing in Swanton.

In Hardin County, the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern will install lights and gates at the Van Atta Road/Township Road 55 grade crossing in Liberty Township.

In Medina County, the Wheeling & Lake Erie  will reconstruct the crossing surface and install new lights and gates at the Garver Road/Township Road 177 grade crossing in Chatham Township.

In Portage County, the W&LE will reconstruct the crossing surface and install new lights and gates at the Seasons Road/Township Road 157 crossing in Franklin Township.

In Stark County, the W&LE will install lights and gates at the Riverland Avenue/Township Road 298 crossing in Bethlehem Township.

The Fulton, Hardin and Portage county projects are to be completed by Aug. 21, 2018, and paid for with federal funds.

The projects in Medina and Stark counties are to be completed by Nov. 21, 2018, with PUCO and the W&LE sharing the costs of those projects.

NS, CN Interchanging Through Freights

October 28, 2017

Norfolk Southern and Canadian National announced on Friday that they have launched a joint interline service initiative that interchanges manifest freights in Chicago.

The objective of the program is to cut the transit times by one to two days for carload traffic between western Canada and NS destinations in the eastern United States.

The service involves two eastbound and two westbound trains that will bypass traditional interchange points in Chicago, in favor of using the most efficient existing CN and NS routes.

In a news release, NS said that traffic is interchanging at its yard in Elkhart, Indiana, and thus avoiding extra handlings in the Chicago terminal.

The two carriers said they are continuing to explore adding additional traffic to interline services.

CUS Restoration Work Gets Underway

September 27, 2017

A $22 million project to renovate and restore the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station is underway.

Amtrak said the work includes repainting the hall into its original colors and restoring the skylight.

The 219-foot-long skylight that sits 115 feet above the Great Hall floor and over the years it has deteriorated due to water damage and flaws within the original design.

Natural light is expected to increase by about 50 percent by replacing the 2,052 pieces of glass in frames that had been made bigger over the years in a failed effort to prevent leaks in the skylight, Amtrak officials said.

Workers will construct an energy-efficient skylight above the historic skylight in order to maintain its historic appearance and overcome complications of an existing drainage system.

After the skylight and roof work is finished, the historic skylight and water-damaged plaster and stone will be restored.

A suspended work deck and swing stations are being used to minimize disruption to passengers.

A crane erected on Clinton Street is being used to move materials through the building and above the Great Hall.

The painting and plaster repairs have been divided into phases to further provide full public access to the Great Hall during the repairs.

Union Station opened in 1925 and was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.

Goettsch Parkets is the architect on the project and Berglund Construction is the contractor for the restoration project, which is being funded by Amtrak.

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.

South Shore Derailment Snarls Service

June 7, 2017

A derailment in Chicago forced the South Shore Line to temporary suspend service on Tuesday afternoon.

The accident occurred at low speed when Train No. 18 derailed as it was entering Millennium Station.

With westbound trains unable to enter the station, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore, cancelled service. Metra Electric District trains were honoring South Shore tickets.

NICTD said it was “mobilizing as many trains as possible to minimize this disruption,” but expected long delays for the Tuesday evening commute.

STB Wants More Information Chicago Bypass

June 6, 2017

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is seeking additional information from Great Lakes Basin Transportation pertaining to the proposed Chicago bypass route that it wants to build.

The Board ruled that GLBT’s application is incomplete and rejected the company’s effort to designate its list of its 10 principal stockholders and their respective holdings as confidential.

GLBT was given until June 22 to provide additional information including a more complete list of the counties and cities in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin that the rail line would serve.

The proposed freight-only route would extend for 261 miles between Northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

GLBT had argued that its list of shareholders contained proprietary and commercially sensitive information, and confidential personal information. If that information was disclosed, GLBT said, it could have an adverse impact on GLBT and its principals.

In its filing with the STB, GLBT has said that the rail line, if built, will be grade separated from intersecting railroad lines and major highways, but would interchange with the six Class 1 railroads serving Chicago along with six regional railroads at 26 interchange points.