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Freight Traffic on Former Milwaukee Road Mainline

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Freight Traffic on Former Milwaukee Road Mainline
Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Saturday, April 27, 2019 1:36 PM

Hi,

Looking for a little information.  The Metra District West Line runs on former Milwaukee Road tracks, now owned by CP Rail.  Metra stops at the Big Timber station in Elgin, IL.  The line goes on to Omaha.  On most mornings and some evenings, I see freight trains parked under the Randall Road bridge with lights on about a quarter mile west of the Big Timber station.  I assume they are waiting for the commuter trains to clear out so they can run to Bensenville.  I have not seen the locomotives up close enough to see what railroad they are (although I used to see DME and ICE locomotives run through to  Bensenville).  Does anybody know?  CP?  ICE?  Others?  Thanks.

Bruce

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, April 27, 2019 4:16 PM

I lived for a year in Schaumburg, IL at the Hyatt Place hotel there for about a year and used the West Line a lot about 10 years ago.   

CP and it's granger shortline use the line during non-peak METRA times during the day and seen them at night (I saw both ICE and MD&W power but no idea whose train it was).   CP mostly uses it for the Kansas City trains but I would guess also some trains from the Twin Cities come down the Mississippi River line and then into Chicago vs using the via Milwaukee route.    I wasn't aware they had a line into Omaha though.    The CP Chicago to KC line is in pretty good shape and was kept up pretty well under Milwaukee Road as well.    Not sure how much traffic it carries but judging from the maintence level KC to Chicago probably brings in some serious cash.

Never saw any power outside CP Rail and it's former or current subsidiaries on the line.    Pool power was pretty rare.    Unlike the Chicago, Milwaukee to Twin Cities line which regularly sees pool power.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, April 27, 2019 5:29 PM

They don't have a line to Omaha.  The Milwaukee abandoned it in 1980 west of Green Island, IA.  Short segments around Marion IA and in central Iowa were operated by other railroads, but I believe those segments also are completely gone now.  There is a larger portion from Council Bluffs to Bayard IA that originally was bought by a shipper's group and operated by lease by the BN.  It's since been sold outright to BNSF.

It may all be operated under the CP banner, but on paper it's still Soo Line and DM&E.  There was an item sometime back about Soo and DM&E granting each other trackage rights at certain locations where they met.  The reason given was to help facilitate interchange between the two lines.  I believe that translates into letting DM&E people, who are paid less, do work that was being done by Soo people.

Jeff  

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Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Saturday, July 3, 2021 10:39 PM

A follow up to my question: I stopped by the highway bridge and scrambled down the hill and saw a UP SD70 something or other waiting for the Metra trains to clear out. Whether it was a CP train using a CP locomotive or a run through I don't know. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, July 4, 2021 9:17 AM

Bruce Frierdich
A follow up to my question: I stopped by the highway bridge and scrambled down the hill and saw a UP SD70 something or other waiting for the Metra trains to clear out. Whether it was a CP train using a CP locomotive or a run through I don't know. 

They have run through power on Chicago to Twin Cities sometimes.    Not unusual to see Norfolk Southern, or sometimes KCS units.   UP is rather unusual on Chicago to Twin Cities same with CSX.    The lack of CSX units surprises me as formerly Milwaukee Road used B&O power quite a bit in the 1970's when they were power short.   Also Southern Railway power in the 1970s (which is now NS).

The NS Power swapping I think is to compensate for the use of CP Power on Chicago to Detroit runs......just a hunch I have, no real proof.    KCS, I am not sure what is going on there.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, July 4, 2021 6:51 PM

The Milwaukee West line no longer goes to Omaha. At Savanna IL it crosses the Mississippi River and then heads southwest to Kansas City and north towards La Crescent MN. At Marquette IA a branch does strike out west across the northern tier of IA counties through Mason City but ends at Sheldon IA and a connection with the UP former Omaha Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, July 4, 2021 7:00 PM

kgbw49
The Milwaukee West line no longer goes to Omaha. At Savanna IL it crosses the Mississippi River and then heads southwest to Kansas City and north towards La Crescent MN. At Marquette IA a branch does strike out west across the northern tier of IA counties through Mason City but ends at Sheldon IA and a connection with the UP former Omaha Road.

It's too bad they never replaced the pontoon bridge at Prarie Du Chien.   Always wonder if someday that might be a WisDOT / WSOR project.    Milwaukee used to run a Passenger Train across that bridge to somewhere before they took the bridge out.   

How far west does that line still go across Iowa from Marquette?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, July 4, 2021 9:10 PM

The line that crossed the bridge at PDC used to go to Rapid City.  CP's map shows they still go as far wast as Mason City.  At least part of the line between there and Rapid City is operated by shortlines.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, July 4, 2021 10:34 PM

This map of transload facilities gives a view of the CP network including mainlines and what they consider branch lines. The Marquette Line does stretch to Sheldon Iowa but is considered a branch line west of Mason City.

https://www.cpr.ca/en/choose-rail-site/PublishingImages/transload-network-2020-lg.png

This map shows the CP network superimposed on a rail map of North Americal complete with every city or "station" on the CP network.

https://www.cpr.ca/en/choose-rail-site/Documents/cp-network-map-2020.pdf

 

 

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Posted by Ed Kyle on Monday, July 5, 2021 5:38 PM

A late 1950s timetable shows a dozen long distance passenger trains, nine time freights, and one way freight on the Milwaukee Road daily west of Elgin.  Two more passengers and five more freights joined in west of Kittredge, where a line from Wisconsin connected.  The line was high speed signaled double track across Illinois.  Most, and maybe all, of the passenger trains, and a majority of the freight traffic, continued across Iowa to Council Bluffs to connect with Union Pacific. 

Now, as I understand things, CP only runs one regular freight each way, a local turn, and an occasional extra west of Elgin, on single track.  The former Milwaukee Road line across Iowa is mostly abandoned.

 - Ed Kyle     

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 5, 2021 6:24 PM

It'll become interesting and fun here once Mark Meyer and Michael Sol have read this post...

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, July 5, 2021 7:03 PM

kgbw49
This map of transload facilities gives a view of the CP network including mainlines and what they consider branch lines. The Marquette Line does stretch to Sheldon Iowa but is considered a branch line west of Mason City.

I looked on Google Maps, the former Milwaukee line ends at the Sheldon, IA Depot but there is a rail connection right there at the Depot in Sheldon, IA with a North-South UP branch line or former UP Branch Line.    From Google Earth the connection looks in fair shape and used, not sure if it is used to get to a client in Sheldon or to reach cities beyond Sheldon, IA to the North.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, July 5, 2021 9:43 PM

The north/south UP line at Sheldon is the former Omaha Road main line.  Still a secondary main line for UP.

Jeff

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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 10:34 AM

Michael Sol still around?

I miss him.

 

Ed

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 11:43 AM

MP173

Michael Sol still around?

I miss him.

Ed

 

  Yeppers!  Bang HeadSigh
 
                        AND futuremodal,   you could always count on him to  to keep the 'conversations' moving right up to that level of pumping stomach acid, and there was another person, arund about that same time that would 'help' [ I cannot remember his handle, but, he was a fan of the Milw Rd's PNW lines(?) ]...  
  They were some interesting times, and certainly, nowhere near our curent,'plain vanilla'  FORUM 'discussions';  those teneded to devolve into ad hominem batterings.     Resulting in locked topics, and lots of PM traffic.... I am not sure if they could be considered  of as the good old days?     Bang Head SighBang Head  Whistling

 

 


 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 12:32 PM

Just drove from the Twin Cities to the Black Hills. The driving route from MSP to I-90 in Worthington parallels the former Omaha Road for much of the way. It is a very busy railroad.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 1:37 PM

MP173
Michael Sol still around?

Just had his latest thread contending with Mark Meyer locked over on Classic Trains -- it will not surprise you that the topic was 'should the Pacific Coast Extension have been abandoned'.

The man, his spirit, and his lore are very much still with us!

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 3:02 PM

I was wondering if that was him.  He also shows up in various places on Facebook from time to time.

I wonder what TRR stands for?

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 2:10 PM

Having been on the receiving end of one of futuremodal's tirades and parsing some of his other comments, I eventually came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was more variety in the trainwatching around Spokane.

What is it about the Pacific Coast Extension that causes rational thought to disappear??

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Ed Kyle on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 5:04 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Having been on the receiving end of one of futuremodal's tirades and parsing some of his other comments, I eventually came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was more variety in the trainwatching around Spokane.

What is it about the Pacific Coast Extension that causes rational thought to disappear??

 

Go see the giant, complex, bipolar electric at the St. Louis museum.  Stand there for a minute and you might catch the bug!  If not, go see the sleek Little Joe or the ancient beefy box cab in Union, Illinois or in Duluth.  Same deal I think.  Electric trains on a massive scale, "King of the Rails", 1915 style!  Powered by water, essentially, from the big dams in the region.  Green before it was cool.
 
https://www.american-rails.com/images/CMSTPPE2SUNIONSTAT.jpg
 
 - Ed Kyle
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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 5:31 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
What is it about the Pacific Coast Extension that causes rational thought to disappear??

And basic math skills to disappear as well.    Milwaukee was never able to drop any of the debt for the PCE.    Trustee after Trustee stupidly protected those bond holders at the expense of the railroad.     Primary reason Milwaukee went bankrupt so many times also why lawyers make lousy bankruptcy trustees.

Though via word of mouth of Milwaukee PCE employees themselves, I think the lack of PCE traffic added to the debt load as the Milwaukee was not generating enough revenue in most years to maintain the entire rail system, so even without the debt, the railroad at that size and revenue level would have had at least one or two major bankruptcies prior to 1980.   PCE made bankruptcy more frequent though in my opinion.   

It was interesting in the 1970's watching Milwaukee subcontract out the Milwaukee shops for rehabbing Amtrak Passenger Cars, Amtrak Locomotives, as well as rebuilding some METRA units.   I think they did some work for CN as well.   I wonder if all the railroads did that or if it was just Milwaukee.    Even with the extra work they landed they could not maintain that larger physical presence in Milwaukee.    BTW, to my knowledge, the PCE debt was paid off in the last bankruptcy.....still was not written off the books.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Thursday, July 8, 2021 11:50 AM
 

CSSHEGEWISCH

Having been on the receiving end of one of futuremodal's tirades and parsing some of his other comments, I eventually came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was more variety in the trainwatching around Spokane.

What is it about the Pacific Coast Extension that causes rational thought to disappear??

 

I have read some of Futuremodal's comments on here years prior before I became more active within the past year+ or two. I think you're correct about his feelings in regards to variety. Michael Sol does have a dog in the race. I think his Great Uncle or Grandfather was part of the surveyor team for the PCE. However you're right about rationale out the window when the facts are presented.

 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by Ed Kyle on Sunday, July 11, 2021 10:47 AM

Following up on this.  Online train symbol lists give the following trains on the CP line between Big Timber, IL and Savanna on the Mississippi River.  I believe that 472 runs overnight, so may sometimes wait out the Metra rush before heading into Bensenville.

472 Nahant, IA to Bensenville, IL Daily

473 Bensenville, IL to Nahant, IA Daily

B66  Bensenvillle-Davis Jct./Janesvillle Turn, M-F

Additional As-Needed (non-daily) trains include grain and ethanol runs from Mason City, IA to Chicago and beyond.

This line saw its last intercity passenger train (UP "Cities" trains) in 1971.  Milwaukee Road tore out the second main in 1980 or so, leaving  single-track controled by Track Warrant Control.  There are sidings at Genoa, Davis Jct., Adeline, and Kittredge, but I expect they are rarely used with so few trains.  The FRA crossing inventory showed an average of 4 trains per day in 2018.

This line would have grown more important if CP had bought KCS, but with that loss it may now lose traffic.

 - Ed Kyle

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, July 11, 2021 4:08 PM

Ed Kyle
The FRA crossing inventory showed an average of 4 trains per day in 2018.

Sorry, I think that traffic estimate is too low.    I was in Schamburg Illinois for about a year in 2016 and there were at least 3-4 CP and CP subsidiary freight trains just when I was on the platform waiting for trains.    Statistically, the chances of me catching all or most of them just during my travel windows on METRA is slim to none.

At any rate attached is METRA's estimate of up to 8 CP Trains a day over the Fox River Bridge in 2018. 

https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/conservation/NaturalHeritage/Documents/ITA_Conservation_Plans/Conservation_Plans/179_CP.pdf

 

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Posted by Ed Kyle on Sunday, July 11, 2021 9:19 PM

At Schaumburg, you probably would have seen a few more freights, like the Spaulding Patrol and the CN interchange runs to Spaulding itself (back then).  Out west of Elgin, and especially west of Davis Jct, the freight numbers drop a bit.  Also, I'll note that I only listed the "Thru" trains.  The FRA also listed one additional "Switching Train". 

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Posted by OWTX on Monday, July 12, 2021 11:25 AM

The Milwaukee's K.C. gateway was equal in carloads to Omaha. They were only about 17% of UP's gateway carload volume at Omaha. CNW and CB&Q had 60%+ of that market, the Rock was less than 5% (ouch).

Another intractable problem was getting short hauled on loads coming off the NP and GN at the Twin Cities destined for Milwaukee.

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Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Sunday, September 19, 2021 5:00 PM

When Conrail was still around I would often see CSX NS and CONRAIL locos at Bensenville - whether transfer or run through I don't know. Usually not together. 

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