Posts Tagged ‘South Shore Line’

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.

Chasing the AARPCO Specials in Chicago

September 6, 2022

METX 90 backing the train onto the Metra Electric in Blue Island, Illinois.
South Shore 2009 leads across the Canadian National diamond at Stillwell, Indiana.
The AARPCO special navigates the remaining 10th street running at Michigan City, Indiana.
Caritas brings up the rear. This remnant of the street trackage has lost its wires and is only used by freight and diesel-powered equipment moves.  All the houses and businesses on the south side of the street have been torn down and construction of a new double track line has begun. Eleventh Street is already been torn up and a new track is being laid.  When complete the former single track street trackage will be completely double tracked and on private right of way. It’s sad to see but it will certainly improve speeds and schedules by eliminating this bottleneck.

I was in the Chicago area for Labor Day weekend. The plan was to do some railfanning and visit the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, on Saturday and the Heston Steam Museum in LaPorte County, Indiana, on Sunday.

While I did visit IRM, Sunday’s plans were radically changed.

After railfanning Metra near downtown Chicago, I  proceeded to Grayslake station on the Northwest side.

This is on the former Milwaukee Road North line and sees Metra, Canadian Pacific, and Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service as well as the Empire Builder. Across the street is a hobby shop which I also visited.

Some customers informed me that a passenger car special would go by northbound around 1 p.m. It was just after that so I assumed It had not been by yet (I had not seen it downtown either).

A few other trains went by and then the northbound track which was green changed to a red signal.

A few minutes later a train led by METX No. 90, Metra’s Chicago & North Western heritage paint, came with what turned out to be the American Association of Private Passenger Car Owners special.

As it turned out their convention was in Chicago that weekend and it was running over most of Metra’s routes.

It had left Chicago earlier in the morning and run out to Elgin on the Milwaukee Road West mainline and had returned but taking the wye to turn north. This is how I had missed it.  It was now returning south to Chicago and I got a special catch.

I then continued on my journey to IRM which was open late (9:30 p.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m. closing time). 

I discovered that AARPCO was running a whole series of trips which would continue the rest of Saturday and into the next week.

After I had caught it, the special continued through Union Station and went to Joliet via the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio line. It then reversed and took the Rock Island district to LaSalle Street Station.

This brings me to Sunday morning. Sunday’s trip would go west to Blue Island then east on the Metra Electric to Kensington.

There it would be handed off to the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend to Michigan City, Indiana, through the remaining street running and then head south to Kingsbury on a former Nickel Plate line that the South Shore now operates as freight only.

This is very rare mileage as the Metra Electric has never hosted a diesel powered passenger train and the Kingsbury line has not seen a passenger movement in 75 years.

Needless to say the Heston museum plans were thrown out and the AARPCO special would be the day’s focus.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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.

Amtrak Eyes New Entrance to Chicago

June 13, 2022

Amtrak is seeking funding to develop a new entrance to Chicago for its trains from the East Coast and Michigan.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the proposal is multiple pronged and involves using tracks of the South Shore Line in Northwest Indiana, acquiring Canadian National’s lightly used Lakefront Line and constructing a direct connection from the St. Charles Air Line to Amtrak-owned tracks leading into Chicago Union Station.

The project, if funded, would cost an estimated $418.5 million.

The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited would leave their current route on Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line at a connection from NS to the South Shore near the current Amtrak station in South Bend, Indiana.

Amtrak trains from Michigan would get onto the South Shore in Michigan City, Indiana. From there Amtrak would take the South Shore to Kensington in Chicago before switching to the CN Lakefront Line, which was formerly the mainline of the Illinois Central.

Amtrak trains using the former IC between Chicago and New Orleans currently use the St. Charles Air Line over its entire length.

But this requires a backup move on BNSF’s busy Chicago-Aurora line to reach Union Station.

Building a direct connection from the Air Line to Union Station would cost an estimated $146.5 million.

The proposed project also would route the Chicago-New York Cardinal over the under construction West Lake Corridor line of the South Shore between Dyer and Hammond, Indiana.

At Hammond, Nos. 50 and 51 would then continue in or out of Chicago via the South Shore mainline.

The advantages of the project would be to get passenger trains off the busy NS Chicago Line, where Amtrak operations have been frequently subject to delay.

The Trains report indicated Amtrak is eyeing grants from the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program.

Also known as the Mega Program, Amtrak would seek $251.1 million in federal grants that it would match with $83.7 million from its own budget.

The passenger carrier would also seek equal amounts from a combination of state and local agencies, including transportation departments of Illinois, Michigan, and the City of Chicago; commuter rail agency Metra; and Cook County, Illinois.

Amtrak also has proposed double-tracking its Michigan Line for 16 miles between Niles and Glenwood, Michigan.

This would eliminate delays that occur when scheduled trains run late and miss their planned meets at the existing sidings.

No timeline has been given for these projects and it is unclear if CN would be willing to sell to Amtrak its Lake Front Line in Chicago. Nor has Amtrak yet held discussions about using the South Shore with that rail operator’s parent, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The new Chicago entrance proposal is similar to one studied several years ago involving creating a dedicated passenger route in Chicago and Northwest Indiana on no-longer used right of way that once belonged to the New York Central that runs parallel to the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline that Amtrak and NS use today. That proposal died due to lack of funding.

The Trains report can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/amtrak-unveils-infrastructure-plan-to-transform-chicago-operations/

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.

Michigan City Sees Some Daylight Street Moves

April 13, 2022

Although most South Shore freight operations through Michigan City, Indiana, continue to occur at night, at least once the Chicago South Shore & South Bend has a sent a train down the street during daylight hours.

Trains magazine posted on its website a photograph of six locomotives hauling four covered hopper cars through the construction zone on 11th Street in Michigan City on April 10.

Since late February, South Shore Line passengers have been riding a bus shuttle between the Carroll Avenue station in Michigan City and the Dune Park station in Porter.

Workers are building a new double-track line through Michigan City that will eliminate the street running on 11th and 10th streets.

Most of the street running will have been eliminated by this fall when trains will resume running through Michigan City.

South Shore Freights Detouring to Avoid Michigan City Street Construction Zone

March 17, 2022

Some freight trains of the Chicago South Shore & South Bend have been detouring via Canadian National to avoid the street running in Michigan City, Indiana, which is now a construction zone.

Railfan & Railroad magazine reported on its website that some South Shore freights have been detouring during daylight hours on a CN line between Chicago and Stillwell, Indiana, where it connects with the South Shore.

South Shore freights are allowed to use the street running during nighttime hours when construction is halted for the day.

The R&R report said detour moves have been made using South Shore’s own locomotives.

South Shore Line passengers are riding a bus bridge between Michigan City’s Carroll Avenue station and the Dune Park station.

South Shore commuter trains continue to operate between Chicago and Dune Park, and between Carroll Avenue and South Bend.

The bus bridge began Feb. 28 when a multimillion project got underway to double track the South Shore through Michigan City and end the street running on 11th and 10th streets that has existed since 1908.

The project involves construction of 26.6 miles of double track between Michigan City and Gary, Indiana, and the construction of a new station in downtown Michigan City on 11th Street.

Once completed, the station complex will be a four-story mixed use commercial and residential complex.

The previous South Shore station on 11th Street was razed on Jan. 31, but its terra cotta façade was saved and will be incorporated into the new facility.

The 11th Street station had opened in 1927 and closed in 1987. However, South Shore trains had continued to stop there until April 20, 2021, with passengers boarding in the middle of the street and the station being a bus shelter-type structure in a parking lot.

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