Posts Tagged ‘commuter trains’

South Shore Bus Substitution Continues Today

February 17, 2021

Bus substitution for train service was continued into Wednesday on portions of the South Shore Line in Indiana.

The South Shore cited severe winter weather conditions for making the substitutions between South Bend and Michigan City, Indiana.

The railroad had instituted the substation on Feb. 13. It also substituted buses for trains over the same route segment during the weekend of Feb. 6-7.

The latest bus substitution was described as a precautionary measure because severe winter conditions can adversely affect operations.

Design Firm Named for South Shore Extension

January 15, 2021

The Dallas engineering firm Jacobs has been announced as the designer of record for the West Lake Commuter Rail Corridor project in Northwest Indiana.

The 8-mile line will be build by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District between Dyer and Hammond, connecting at the latter with the South Shore Commuter line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

F.H. Paschen and Ragmar Benson Joint Venture are overseeing the $935 million project, which has achieved full funding.

The line is expected to be completed in 2024 and include four new stations.

Once open the travel time between Munster/Dyer Main Street and Chicago will be 47 minutes.

Philly-Reading Rail Service Could Cost $818M to get Started

January 13, 2021

Implementing rail passenger service between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania, would cost up to $818 million in capital expenses, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study concluded.

The study found the 12-station, 59-mile service could attract up to 6,400 passengers daily,

However, PennDOT said several significant issues must be addressed to determine the concept’s feasibility.

One of those is whether host railroad Norfolk Southern would  be a “willing party” to negotiate access, improvements and fees.

NS tracks would be used between Reading and Norristown and are not electrified, a fact that could complicate equipment decisions.

The report said the existing SEPTA route between Norristown and Philadelphia is heavily used and might not be able to accommodate additional trains.

Additional studies are needed to make a detailed infrastucture and service feasibility study; a Norfolk Southern operational feasibility study; development of local support and funding; preparation of design and environmental documents; and completion of a preliminary memorandum of understanding between Norfolk Southern and SEPTA or whatever entity would be the project sponsor.

If funding can be arranged the service could be launched in 2030.

Getting to Work in Philadelphia

January 6, 2021

Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority train is shown in Morrisville, Pennsylvania on Aug. 23, 1978. The train appears to be operating on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Groundbreaking Held for South Shore Extension

October 29, 2020

A ground breaking ceremony was held on Wednesday in Munster, Indiana, to mark the beginning of construction of the West Lake Corridor project.

The project will add an 8-mile, $945 million branch to the South Shore Commuter service operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The passenger-only line will connect with the existing South Shore mainline at Hammond and extend southward to Dyer.

Service is expected to be six direct roundtrips to Chicago during peak commuter travel periods and to 12 roundtrip shuttles to Hammond during off-peak times. Service is expected to begin in 2025

NICTD President Michael Noland called the start of the project a “historic day, 30 years in the making.”

Another ceremony was held in Dyer with officials and dignitaries, including Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Jane Williams, riding a “first trip” that used a parallel CSX route.

South Shore Giving Free Rides to Medical Workers

April 30, 2020

The South Shore Line said it will offer free rides for doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel during May and June between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

The commuter railroad also extended the validity of May monthly tickets through the end of June.

South Shore President Michael Noland said the carrier took the action to express its “sincere appreciation” to front-line health care workers.

The extension of a stay-at-home order by the State of Illinois to May 30 prompted the extension of the validity period for monthly passes.

The South Shore said it understood that some passengers may continue to have differing travel schedules for the next few months.

In the Waning Days of P&LE Commuter Service

April 12, 2020

The former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie route north of Pittsburgh was a once a busy passenger artery.

Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains between Chicago and Pittsburgh used the route as did the the Erie Railroad and New York Central.

Some of those Erie trains operated between Pittsburgh and Cleveland while the Central used the P&LE for its trains to Youngstown and Ashtabula.

The P&LE had its own network of passenger trains including commuter trains that operated between College Hill station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and downtown Pittsburgh.

By the time P&LE GP7 No. 1501 and its largely unseen commuter train were photographed in Beaver Falls on April 23, 1983, that service was in its twilight years.

The commuter service had diminished to one roundtrip by the late 1960s although between 1979 and 1980 when a second roundtrip was ended on a reverse commute schedule.

The College Hill station was named after nearby Geneva College.

The P&LE commuter trains lasted for two more years after this image was made before being discontinued in July 1985.

There is footnote to the history of No. 1501. During the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976 it was painted into a bicentennial livery.

That lasted for a while before it was repainted black and gold as seen here.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Options Laid Out for South Shore Station in South Bend

April 23, 2018

Five options have been presented to the South Shore Line for a new station in South Bend, Indiana.

The costs of the stations were pegged by a consultant at between $23.9 million to $102 million for a facility that could help cut up to a half-hour off travel times to Chicago.Among the options are:

  • The former Honeywell site south of the airport on North Bendix Drive, $23.9 million.
  • The South Bend Amtrak station, $31 million.
  • The former South Bend Chocolate Factory site on U.S. Route 20, $44 million.
  • The former downtown Union Station site, $102 million.

South Shore trains currently use a slow, circuitous route to reach its station at the South Bend airport, requiring 10 minutes for the final two miles.

Building an airport station via a more direct route would cost an estimated $29.5 million.

W.Va. Mulls Support for MARC Service

February 28, 2018

West Virginia policymakers are eyeing a range of options to continue Maryland Rail Commuter service operating in their state.

This includes a fare hike of $4 and increasing state funding of the service.

MARC recently said that if a new contract is not reached that it would end service as early as this summer to Martinsburg, Duffields and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, from Washington.

Maryland has demanded that West Virginia pay $3.2 million to keep MARC trains running to the Mountain State.

The proposed fare increase is expected to generate $600,000 a year.

West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith said about $500,000 in funding could be taken from the state budget negotiations, which would still leave a funding gap of $2.1 million.

Smith said other funding sources could include federal funding and private sector support.

Sunlight on a Sunrail Locomotive

February 6, 2017

sunrail

One of the lines that I railfanned while on vacation in Florida was Sunrail, the Orlando commuter service.

This is a new line that had a phase one opening on May 1 2014. Phase one has 12 stations starting at Sand Lake (Orlando International Airport) to Debary on the north end.

Phase 2 will add four more stations on the south end and Deland on the north end.  The south end is under construction while the Deland station still needs financing.

Trains are short, no more than three cars, but give a consistently smooth service.  Rush hour schedules are approximately every half hour in both directions.

I took a southbound train to get back to the airport on my way home. Three Lynx bus routes connect at the Sand Lake station for the airport.

In 2015 Sunrail carried almost one million people or about 3,800 daily riders.  Initially, Sunrail ran weekdays only but has recently added Saturday service.