Posts Tagged ‘South Shore Line’

Land Transfer To Enable South Shore Track Project

January 8, 2022

A land transfer agreement completed in late December has enabled an Indiana commuter railroad to clear another hurdle in the South Shore double tracking project.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Chicago, South Shore & South Bend completed a transaction with Northern Indiana Public Service Company that will enable double tracking of 17 miles of the South Shore between Gary and Michigan City to proceed.

In a news release, The CSS&SB said the double tracking will also boost its freight service.

NICTD oversees the South Shore Line commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, while the CSS&SB is a freight railroad owned by Anacostia Rail Holdings.

The $300 million double-tracking project is expected to be completed by April 2024.

Currently the line has eight miles of double-track between Gary and Michigan City.

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of federal, state and private funds.

In a news release, Anacostia  said trains face a congestion at Burns Harbor where CSS&SB and NICTD trains share a single-track main line.

The release said once double tracking is completed, freight switching will be conducted north of the main line.

“This will allow CSS&SB to use some of NIPSCO’s now idle Bailly Generation Station  property to foster business development in Northwest Indiana,” the news release said.

Indiana High Court Rules Against Track Worker

December 21, 2021

An Indiana court has ruled that the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is a “political subdivision” of the state.

The Indiana Supreme Court made the finding in upholding a lower court ruling involving a case in which a track worker filed a claim for damages after he injured his shoulder while driving spikes.

NICTD operates the South Shore Line commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

The injury to the track worker occurred in Illinois and the injured worker, Clarence Lowe, of Hobart, Indiana, has originally sued NICTD in an Illinois court.

After that court dismissed the claim because NICTD did not give consent to being sued in Illinois, Lowe filed a notice of tort claim in Indiana in October 2018.

The issue in the case decided by the Indiana high court was whether NICTD was a “political subdivision” of the state.

If so, then claims against it must be filed within 180 days of the date of the injury. However, Lowe filed his notice of tort claim 263 days after he had been injured.

In his petition to the Indiana Supreme Court, Lowe argued that federal law enabled him to sue NICTD within 270 days of an injury.

That contention was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which dismissed Lowe’s lawsuit against NICTD because it had not been filed within 180 days of his injury.

NICTD OKs Contract for South Shore Track Work

November 26, 2021

A $304.8 million contract has been approved for the double tracking of the South Shore Line in Indiana.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District governing board approved the pact with a joint venture of the Walsh and Herzog constructions companies.

The project involves creating a second main track over 26.6 miles between Gary and Michigan City.

Once the work is completed, South Shore trains will no longer run in the street in Michigan City.

NITCD officials have said the running times to downtown Chicago will be reduced once the project is completed in 2024.

An earlier request for proposals for the project resulted in bids that came in far higher than agency officials had expected.

Consequently, NITCD’s board directed agency staff to rework the project to lower its cost.

This included breaking up the work into separate deals and buying raw materials needed so that the bidders would not have to factor the cost of those materials into their bids.

Some elements of the project were made optional and will depend on how much federal funding the agency is awarded.

During the time when the second track is being built, train service will be suspended on some South Shore segments and replaced by bus service.

South Shore Michigan City Shop in 1969

October 1, 2021

The wayback machine has landed us in Michigan City, Indiana, On March 30, 1969. We’re standing on the North Roeske Avenue bridge that spans the tracks of the Chicago South Shore & South Bend facility. This is where the South Shore used to maintain its venerable interurban cars.

More than six decades later this shop building has been razed and made way for a modern facility. The South Shore is separate entities with the passenger operations known as the South Shore Line and the freight operations still called by the railroad’s original name but also known as South Shore Freight.

Each has its own maintenance shops in Michigan City with the passenger equipment maintained on the east side of Roeske and the freight locomotives maintained in a modern shop on the west side.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

NICTD Moves to Cut Costs of Track Project

July 29, 2021

The parent agency of the South Shore Line has taken a step toward lowering the cost of double tracking the commuter railroad between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has approved the purchase of materials for the project including $6.2 million in rail, $380,000 for diamond crossings, and more than $700,000 for Alstom signal equipment. Those purchases will remove potential price volatility for any contractor selected for the project.

The agency is still considering which components of the project can be labeled as optional if funding for them doesn’t materialize.

“I’m feeling confident between the actions we’re taking and the new funding available, we’ll be able to give a notice to proceed,” NICTD President Michael Noland said.

Last May NICTD rejected the only two bids it received for track construction because they far exceeded the $228.6 million budgeted for the project.

NICTD plans to put the track out for bid in the next few weeks.

Indiana High Court to Review NICTD Status

June 24, 2021

The legal status of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will be reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a Hobart, Indiana, man who was injured while working on a South Shore Line track maintenance project.

NICTD oversee the South Shore, which operates commuter trains between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

A lower court had ruled that NICTD is an arm of the state for some matters but not for others. In the latter, NICTD is a political subdivision of the state just as is a city.

The lawsuit in question challenges NICTD holding both statuses at the same time.

The plaintiff had initially filed suit in Illinois then sought to file suit in Indiana but missed the filing deadline.

NICTD argues that the lower-court decision be upheld because its unique status has been recognized in Indiana and Illinois courts for decades.

South Shore Resumes Educational Programs

June 23, 2021

The South Shore Commuter line has resumed providing onboard educational programs by the Midwest Rail Rangers.

The programs are offered two to three times per month on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Upcoming dates featuring the programs are July 1, and 25; Aug. 12, 21, and 29; and Sept. 2 and 19. Additional dates through November are listed at the Rail Rangers website.

Thursday programs are provided on eastbound train No. 7, departing Chicago’s Millennium Station at 8:45 a.m., with westbound programs on train No. 18, departing South Bend’s Airport station at 12:49 p.m.

On Saturdays and Sundays, eastbound programs are given on train No. 504, departing Chicago at 8:40 a.m., and westbound train No. 506, departing South Bend at 1:05 p.m.

The programs are offered in one car near the center of the train designated by yellow signs.

There is no additional cost to ticketed passengers to hear the programs and seating in the Rail Rangers car is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The programs are presented in partnership with the Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Indiana Dunes State Park.

InDOT to Rebuild Intersection to Accommodate South Shore Project

June 9, 2021

The Indiana Department of Transportation will rebuild a highway intersection in Gary to create space for a double tracking project by the South Shore Commuter rail line.

The work affects the junction of U.S. Routes 12 and 20 in Gary’s Miller neighborhood could begin as soon as Thursday.

The project is expected to be completed by September. It will allow for an expanded station and parking lots.

NICTD Seeks to Lower Track Project Cost

May 26, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will seek ways to lower the cost of adding a second main track between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana.

The agency, which oversees the South Shore commuter rail service, recently rejected the two bids it received for the project after they came in higher than expected.

Those bids were in the $400 million range whereas NICTD had expected the project to cost $228 million.

South Shore President President Michael Noland said during a NICTD board meeting the original plan for the double tracking was “a giant miss.”

However, he expressed confidence the project scope can be revised and additional funding can be found.

Among the possible changes NICTD might make are using single station platforms rather than two, using existing storage tracks rather than adding new ones; and buying such materials as rail and ties ahead of time rather than having project contractors buy them as part of their work.

NICTD Rejects Track Project Bids

May 14, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District rejected the two bids it received for a project to install double track on the South Shore commuter line.

The agency said the bids were too high and it will seek new bids in an effort to stay within the agency’s estimates of the $228.6 million project cost. The bids NICTD received were $399.7 million and $424.5 million.

NICTC officials said they will talk with the two bidders and others in the industry to see how the project cost can be lowered and to “find out why some other firms did not participate and provide a bid.”

That process is expected to take 30 to 45 days and set a goal of receiving new bids by August.