Posts Tagged ‘South Shore commuter service’

South Shore Double Tracking on Schedule

February 1, 2023

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District was told this week that work remains on schedule on the double-tracking project on the South Shore Line in northwest Indiana.

The report said the project is expected to finish in about 16 months.

NICTD President Michael Noland said trains should resume operation between Michigan City and Dune Park this summer.

Laying of track is expected to be completed between Gary and Michigan City by November. South Shore personnel will then conduct testing of the line with the goal of starting revenue service in May 2024.

Nolan also said work on the 8-mile West Lake Corridor is 15 to 20 percent complete. That line will connect Dyer and intermediate stops with the South Shore mainline in Hammond.

During the meeting of the NICTD governing board, South Shore officials said ridership of the commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, remains less than half of pre-COVID 19 pandemic levels.

However, South Shore management expects ridership to soon reach 55 percent of what it was in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic began.

South Shore Receives Federal Loan for Track Project

December 24, 2022

The South Shore Line commuter railroad will receive a $27.5 million federal loan to be used to help fund its double tracking project in Northwest Indiana.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the loan will come from its Build America Bureau.

The South Shore, which is overseen by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, is undertaking a $649 million project to install double track on a 26.6-mile segment between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The project includes installation of 18 miles of new track, eliminating street running in Michigan City, renovating five stations, eliminating 13 at-grade roadway/track crossings, and adding 1,475 parking spaces at stations.

A USDOT news release said the the remaining grade crossings will be upgraded with automatic warning devices including flashers, gates and bells.

The project is expected to be completed by late 2024. The South Shore provides commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. A separate company provides freight service on the route and is not part of NICTD.

NICTD  earlier received a $203.3 million loan to be used in the construction of the 8-mile West Lake Corridor Project to create a South Shore spur route from Hammond to Dyer, Indiana.

That loan was provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program.

NICTD Hire Firm to Study New South Bend Station

November 30, 2022

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has approved a contract for engineering work to study moving the South Shore Line’s South Bend terminal.

South Shore trains now terminate near the passenger terminal of South Bend International Airport.

The engineering firm DLZ will study relocating the South Shore station to  another location on the airport as well as a new route into the airfield. NICTD’s board of directors on Monday approved the $6 million engineering study.

South Shore management has said a new South Bend station would cut the travel time to Chicago. Trains take more than 10 minutes to travel two miles upon reaching the airport property.

The engineering study will eye moving the South Shore station to the west side of the airport. It is currently located on the east side.

The DLZ study is expected to be completed by March 2024 with a preliminary environmental study to be issued by September 2023.

NICTD President Michael Noland told the board extending the South Shore tracks into downtown South Bend remains a possibility if the City of South Bend wants to pursue it.

South Shore’s Michigan City Double Track Project Expected to be Completed by Thanksgiving

October 26, 2022

The South Shore commuter railroad expects to complete its double tracking project in Michigan City, Indiana, by Thanksgiving.

During a meeting of the trustees of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, management said the double-tracking work in total is more than a third done.

Management also told the trustees the West Lake Corridor project is about 10 percent completed.

The latter involves building a new line between Hammond and Dyer on a former Monon Railroad right of way.

“It’s significant, the amount of investment that’s coming out of the ground on both projects,” NICTD President Michael Noland said. “Both projects remain on track to finish up and open up on time.”

The double tracking project is expected to finish in spring 2024 while the West Lake Corridor is projected to begin service in spring 2025.

To prepare for the West Lake Corridor inauguration, the South Shore is overhauling 32 rail cars. That work is about one-quarter complete.

NITCD also plans to lease 26 rail cars from Chicago commuter rail operator Metra.

Aside from work within Michigan City, work is underway on the double-tracking project between Michigan City and the Miller station in Gary.

Noland also reported management hopes to select an engineer next month to do engineering and environmental work for a move of the South Bend International Airport station from the east side of the airport terminal to the west side.

That project would eliminate 20 highway grade crossings and reduce the travel time between Chicago and South Bend.

Funding for the project, however, has not been secured beyond the preliminary engineering work.

South Shore Expands Bus Bridge Service

August 9, 2022

The South Shore Line changed its bus bridge operations on Aug. 6 as work continues to double track the commuter line between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana.

Bus service is now replacing train service between Carroll Avenue station in Michigan City and Gary Metro station.

South Shore trains continue to operate between Gary and downtown Chicago, and between Carroll Avenue and South Bend, Indiana.

Buses will make intermediate stops at Dune Park, Portage/Ogden Dunes, and Miller. Loop bus service will operate between the Beverly Shores and 11th Street stations.

The bus service in lieu of trains will continue through spring 2023.

South Shore Eyes New South Bend Station Site

August 4, 2022

The governing board of the South Shore Line has agreed to seek requests for proposals for moving the South Bend, Indiana, station.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board’s station request for proposals calls for updating engineering and environmental planning for the project.

Since 1990 the South Shore has used a terminal on the east side of South Bend International Airport.

However, agency officials have long been disenchanted with the slow route to that station, saying it adds up to 15 additional minutes of running time.

NICTD has long eyed moving the South Shore terminal to the west side of the airport. Efforts in 2008 and 2017 to move the South Bend terminal failed to result in any tangible action other than conducting studies.

In recent years NICTD officials have been discussing the prospect of moving the South Bend terminal to a downtown location.

The South Shore once terminated in downtown South bend, but that was eventually scaled back to the Bendix neighborhood on the west side of South Bend. The former Bendix station is currentlu used by intercity passenger carrier Amtrak.

Officials have said the 1990 extension to the airport was always intended to be temporary.

The major stumbling block to moving the South Bend terminal to the downtown area is cost, which NICTD President Michael Noland said could be as much as $250 million.

Relocating at the airport, though, would cost an estimated $50 million to $75 million.

NICTD officials have said one reason for considering the move at the airport now is because funding for it might be available under the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

The ultimate goal of the relocation would be to create a running time of as few as 90 minutes between the airport and downtown Chicago.

Loan to Help Finance West Lake Corridor

June 20, 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation has provided a $203.3 million Rehabilitation and Improvement Program loan to help fund the West Lake Corridor Project in Northwest Indiana.

The agency is building an 8-mile extension of the South Shore Line from Hammond to Dyer, Indiana.

The loan will be used to pay for about a third of the the $852 million in eligible project costs. It was issued by USDOT’s Build America Bureau to the Indiana Finance Authority on behalf of South Shore parent agency the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The West Lake Corridor is being built on and along a former Monon Railroad right of way and is slated to open in 2025. It will have four new stations.

Other federal funding of the project includes a $354.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

South Shore Project to Begin June 1

May 26, 2022

Work is expected to get underway soon on construction of the West Lake Corridor commuter rail corridor in Northwest Indiana.

The eight-mile corridor will expand South Shore Line service from Hammond, Indiana, to Dyer, Indiana.

Michael Noland, president of the Northern Indiana Transportation Commuter District, told the agency’s board of directors that construction of the West Lake Corridor will begin June 1.

The $6.6 million project is expected to be completed within three years after construction begins.

As part of the project, workers will need to build bridges over the Grand Calumet River and various freight railroad lines in the region.

The corridor will have an intermediate station in Munster. The route uses right of way of the former Monon Railroad.

When completed, the South Shore trains will operate between Dyer and Chicago.

During the board meeting, Nolan also provided an update on the double tracking project of the main South Shore line between Michigan City and Gary.

He said work is on scheduled to be completed between Michigan City and Dune Park in Porter by the end of the year. The project will eliminate street running in Michigan City.

In the meantime, the South Shore is using buses to transport riders between the Michigan City Carroll Avenue station and Dune Park. Nolan said the bus bridge operation has carried 23,000 passengers since late February.

The next phase of the double-tracking project will involve the Dune Park-Gary segment where passengers there will rides buses as construction progresses.

The double track project is expected to be finished in 2024.

Glad I Got it When I Did

March 5, 2022

With the demise of the South Shore commuter trains on the Michigan City, Indiana, street running last weekend, I’m glad I have a few documented memories. These images were mde during a July 3, 1994, visit with Marty and Robert Surdyk. I know I have video footage also.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

South Shore Street Running 1969 Style

March 5, 2022

Running in the middle of 11th Street in Michigan City, Indiana, has been a hallmark of South Shore commuter train operations for decades.

But that has now ended. The last full day of revenue service commuter trains operating on 11th and 10th streets was Sunday, Feb. 27.

To be historically accurate, the last revenue run down those streets was Train 106 on Monday, Feb. 28 at 5:45 a.m. headed to Chicago. Two other trains preceded it in the pre-dawn hours.

But after No. 106 departed Michigan City’s Carroll Avenue station, buses took over ferrying passengers between there and the Dune Park station. Trains continue to run between South Bend and Carroll Avenue, and between Chicago and Dune Park.

Even before the final days of the street running, preparations were underway for the construction project that will transform the South Shore into a two-track operation between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana.

The trains will still run on 11th Street but parallel to the street not in it. Also, 11th Street will become one way.

The neighborhood will also change. Several houses have been purchased and are set to be razed to make room for the double track and the rebuilt street.

Chicago South Shore & South Bend freight trains will continue to operate in the street for now, but will do so at night. Also moving at night will be ferry non-revenue moves of South Shore passenger equipment from Dune Park to the shops near Carroll Avenue.

Back on March 30, 1969, though, no one could have imagined the end of street running in Michigan City.

Shown above is a South Shore train using equipment that has long since been replaced. Car 101 was built by Pullman in 1926. It was lengthened in the early 1940s and modernized by 1950.

These cars were painted orange and replaced by Nippon Sharyo equipment starting in 1982.

Photograph by Robert Farkas