Posts Tagged ‘South Shore’

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 Operating Mask Optional Car

September 25, 2020

Faced with a significant number of passengers who refuse to wear face masks, Indiana-based commuter railroad South Shore Line has begun offering a mask optional car.

During the CVOID-19 pandemic, the South Shore has required passengers to wear face coverings but the railroad soon experienced difficulty enforcing the order.

South Shore President Michael Noland said that there wasn’t much the railroad could do in cases in which passengers refused to adhere to the policy.

Rather than have passengers arrested, Noland said the South Shore went to a mask optional car.

Noland said having a mask optional car has led to 100 percent compliance with mask wearing in other cars on trains.

South Shore Extension Work Could Start in October

July 18, 2020

Construction of an extension of the South Shore commuter line could get underway in October.

Work on the West Lake Corridor extension can get underway on that schedule if the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District can complete a grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration in September.

The 8-mile line will link the South Shore at Hammond with Dyer, Indiana, and intermediate communities.

If construction of the line begins this fall it is expected to be completed by late 2024 with revenue service starting in early 2025.

The project is expected to cost $933 million of which $355 million will come from FTA grants.

South Shore Line Resumes Normal Schedules

June 10, 2020

The South Shore Line resumed normal service on Monday after operating reduced schedules since March 23.

The commuter carrier that operates between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, said it will continue to continue to seek to protect the health of passengers and employees by requiring passengers to wear masks on train cars and at stations, asking them to practice social distancing when possible, and encouraging them to use hand sanitizer stations in each car.

However, the South Shore said one car on each train will allow passengers to forgo wearing a mask if they so choose.

“We want everybody to be safe,” said Michael Noland, the South Shore Line’s president.

South Shore has also resumed its Bikes on Trains program with bike racks available in select cars on designated trains.

Noland said South Shore ridership dipped to a low of 5 percent of normal at the depth of the pandemic and of late has been averaging 10 percent of normal.

“It’s going to be lean for a while,” he said. “It’s not like turning on a light switch.”

Most passengers who have ridden during the pandemic have been health-care workers and people going to Chicago for medical appointments.

South Shore Reduces Service Due to Pandemic

March 20, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Shore Line will implement on March 23 a temporary modified weekday train schedule.

The schedule will be essentially a modified weekend/holiday schedule with the addition of two morning and two afternoon rush hour trains. Weekend train schedules will remain unchanged.

In a notice posted on its website the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District said it has experienced a substantial drop in daily ridership.

The service reductions will seek to balance service with the reduced demand and include offering more railcars per train and all cars open to promote social distancing.

The agency also said it is conducting deeper cleaning of out-of-service equipment.

It also asked passengers to purchase tickets in advance through the South Shore mobile app, ticket vending machines, or ticket agents.

“Reducing or eliminating cash transactions with our train crews will help reduce our employees’ exposures relating to cash fare collections,” NITCD said.

NITCD said it understands that its still provides an essential public service that is used by healthcare professionals for travel to their essential assignments, and by passengers with previously scheduled medical appointments.

Service in service will be promptly posted at http://www.mysouthshoreline.com, on the South Shore Line Facebook and Twitter pages, on its mobile app, and via email notifications.

Chicago-area rail commuter operator also announced that starting March 23 it will reduce its service to account for lower ridership due to school closures, work-from-home mandates and other consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The only line that will not see service cuts is the Heritage Corridor to Joliet.

Metra said it is monitoring ridership and may further reduce service to meet the ridership demands.

The reduced schedules will remain in effect until health officials deem the crisis has passed and/or ridership begins to return to normal. Metra will operate on regular weekend schedules this weekend.

4 Hurt in South Shore Derailment in Chicago

February 24, 2020

Four passengers suffered minor injuries when a South Shore train derailed while arriving at Chicago’s Millennium Station last Saturday morning.

The low speed derailment occurred just before 8 a.m.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates South Shore Line trains, said the injured passengers were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The derailment resulted in minor delays to other South Shore and Metra commuter trains.

The South Shore uses Meta tracks in Chicago.

South Shore Track Project Gets Favorable Rating

February 13, 2020

The Federal Transit Administration has given a favorable rating to the South Shore Line plan to add double track in Indiana between Gary and Michigan City.

The project received a medium high ranking, which will allow it to move to the final engineering phase, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District said.

NITCD officials are hoping that federal funds will pay for 38 percent of the project’s estimated $416 capital cost.

“We are thrilled to announce that the Double Track Northwest Indiana project has reached this critical milestone in the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program,” said NICTD President and CEO Michael Noland in a statement

Noland said the rating is “the FTA’s way of saying you’ve got a great project that we want to fund.”

The project involves 26 miles of a second mainline track, improvements at five stations, expansion of parking lots for over 1,300 new parking spaces and construction of nine new platforms.

It will particularly affect Michigan City, where the tracks will be separated from the roadway and 21 at-grade crossings will be closed.

NICTD expects that faster travel times east of Gary will lead to a doubling of existing South Shore Line ridership.

South Shore Wins Safety Award

October 18, 2018

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association has awarded its 2017 President’s Award for safety achievements to the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad.

The award was presented earlier this month at an ASLRRA regional meeting. It is given Each year to a short line or regional railroad that posts the best safety rate as reported by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The South Shore was honored in the category for railroads with a maximum of 150,000 man-hours.

“We work hard to ensure that our employees go home safe, as well as provide safe service for our customers and the communities we work in and travel through,” said President Todd Bjornstad in a statement.

To qualify for the President’s Award, a railroad also must have earned ASLRRA’s Jake Award for achieving a better-than-industry average safety performance during the prior year.

The South Shore, which is a subsidiary of Anocostia Rail Holdings, earned a Jake With Distinction Award for operating without a personal injury in 2017.

South Shore Hikes Fares to Pay for PTC

July 3, 2018

The South Shore commuter line increased fares this week to help pay for the installation of positive train control.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District approved the fare hike in May and also issued $100 million in bonds to finance PTC, which is expected to be operating by late this year.

NICTD projects that PTC will cost $2 million a year and require 10 to 12 new employees.

The increased fares affect all stations except Hegewisch in Illinois, which is controlled by Metra, Chicago’s commuter rail agency.

As examples of the increased fares, a one-way ticket from Dune Park/Ogden Dunes to Millennium Station in Chicago rose from $8.50 to $9 while a one-way ticket from Hammond to downtown Chicago rose from $6.50 to $7.

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.