Kankakee Belt Route

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Kankakee Belt Route

  •        My newfound toy- an April 1969 copy of The Official Guide, has a one page entry about the Kankakee Belt Route.  It kind of reads like a railroad infomercial.  It explains, the the route will take a day's transit time off cars going from western roads to eastern trunk lines, by mor-or-less bypassing Chicago.  The map shows it going from Zearing, in the northwest, to Southbend in the east.

         Is this line still in use, as part of another railroad?  Did it really have any advantage?

    Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar. Otherwise I, too would be in the Lego Witness Protection Program

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  • The Kankakee Belt Route was part of New York Central and later Penn Central.  It never had a distinct corporate history like the Big Four or Michigan Central but was known primarily for the prominent entry it had in NYC's listing in The Guide.  It is questionable whether it had much overhead traffic that was bypassing Chicago prior to a pair of through trains established by Penn Central about 1969.  Both ran from Elkhart, one went through to Kansas City on ATSF (interchanged at Streator) and the other went through to Silvis on RI (interchanged at La SalleQuestion).  Part of the line (mostly in Indiana) was abandoned under Conrail.

    Paul The commute to work may be part of the daily grind, but I get two train rides a day out of it.
  • Sadly, most this line was pulled up in Indiana. 

    Mike (2-8-2)
  • The Streator end is now NS owned except the last  half mile at the junction which ATSF built in 1967-68 to remove a switchback connection in town (connected to a NYC spur track that split off to th main where the original main turns north and east) . The way the thing is built and in service today would probably make an interesting story.

    Going east-west on the line is a little odd because it connects with CSX on the east and BNSF on the west (there is no NS connection, kind of an island to itself) 

     

    Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
  • I was looking thru some old RI employee magazines last night and came across those RI-NYC/PC run thrus.

    They were called the Gemini trains and used pooled power from both railroads between Silvis and Elkhart.  The service began in August of 1966.  According to the article, the eastbound Gemini departed Silvis at 10pm for interchange at DePue, IL and arrived at Elkhart at 9am.  The westbound left Elkhart at 230am and arrived at Silvis at 1pm.

    Jeff

  • The Kankakee Belt is back in business
    Trains, February 1969 page 20
    Penn Central's Chicago bypass
    ( DIVISION, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, PC, "PINKEPANK, JERRY A.", TRN )

    See also its random appearances in the thread on ''Re: Saint Louis v. Kansas City (and Chicago)'', Page 3 of 5, starting with my post on 05-13-2009 at 6:11 PM and thereafter, at:

     http://cs.trains.com/trccs/forums/p/153516/1697970.aspx#1697970

    More generally, try inputting 'Kankakee' into the 'Search Community' box at the upper right, and you should get like 28 pages / 276 'items' of links to results - just in the Trains.com 'General Discussion' Forum alone !

    - Paul North.

     


    "This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • The Kankakee Belt is still in use in Indiana from the state line east to Schneider and then on to Wheatfield, Indiana.

    At Schneider, it connects with the former NYC Egyptian line which ran from East Chicago to Cairo, Il.  Coal trains run from Scheider east to Wheatfield to the large NIPSCO power plant.  Estimated train frequency on the line is about 1 load per day.

    At the junction with the Egyptian line, non coal trains make a north turn and run to East Chicago where the line joins the ex Conrail mainline, now NS.  There are a pair of BNSF-NS trains which runs the line today....and I am not sure what else, other than coal for Wheatfield.

    Now, station sheets from the 1990's indicate that Conrail ran 3-5 trains daily in each direction.  There were the Conrail - Santa Fe trains, an Elkhart - Kankakee train, a local, plus a very regular unit steel train movement to Hennepin, Il.  Add in a coal train, and the line was busy....and well maintained.

    The line is dark, but very well ballasted with heavy welded rail.  It could handle more traffic and someday might become a very busy line.

    There is no intermodal on the line as I know for a couple of reasons.  Very little intermodal is blocked to avoid Chicago...this has been discussed in previous threads.  Second, the curve off of the line at Streator is pretty severe and has caused derailments of longer cars.

    At one time the line continued onward to South Bend, passing thru North Judson, where it crossed the PRR's Panhandle line (Chicago - Logansport), Erie Lackawanna, and the C&O.  Needless to say, that was a busy place.  Today, not so busy, although the museum did run teh NKP765 this summer.

    ed

  • MP173

    The line is dark, but very well ballasted with heavy welded rail.  It could handle more traffic and someday might become a very busy line.

    There is no intermodal on the line as I know for a couple of reasons.  Very little intermodal is blocked to avoid Chicago...this has been discussed in previous threads.  Second, the curve off of the line at Streator is pretty severe and has caused derailments of longer cars.

    ed

    Curve in question is a 12 degree curve about 534 feet long. They could lighten the curve, but they would be buying property, lots of dirt and have Army Corps permitting issues in a river bottom. Still, the current allignment is an improvement over the original connection. (this line also connected to the old PRR/PC/IT-N&W Peoria Secondary before it went away.)
    Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
  • Somewhere, someplace, I recall reading that there has been a long-standing issue of rate-division between the various railroads that were / are involved.  It apparently works for some traffic but not enough to generate a lot of it.

     John Timm

  • Didn't the NYC and the Rock have a pool agreement train on the Kankakee belt called the "Gemini"?  Ran between Elkhart IN and Silvis IL  (on the Rock between De Pue and Silvis)

  • I do recall the Gemini trains being mentioned in that article in the Feb. 1969 Trains, but not any other details.  Let me see if I can retrieve it over the weekend and see if it adds anything.

    - Paul North.

    "This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • NS runs through trains 10R and 31K to the BNSF at Streator, runs 1 each way Elkhart to Kankakee (35J/26J), and there is a local that also runs the line.

     I believe they have detoured the Z-LACNYC9 train on this line at least once. It is regularly built out of L.A. with blocks for Croxton and Rutherford on NS.

    Tyler
  • I did see a Santa Fe run through at Hamlet Indiana in March 1973 the only time I saw a Kankakee Belt train. The train was crossing the ex- Pennsy PC main and was westbound. Two Santa Fe units were in the lead with two trailing PC units. It was a bit unusual to see Santa Fe units in Indiana at the time. A decade later they were a common sight around Elkhart. My 1964 Official Guide shows that the Kankakee Belt officially began at South Bend Indiana and officially ended at Zearing Illinois; 200.2 miles west. It claimed 26 direct rail connections. Train operations began in Elkhart according to the 1969 Trains Magazine article.

  • For the Gemini run through Rock Island contributed three F7 units, two of which had the NYC ATS  installed, I think they were the 114 and 120.  A Rock Island unit had to lead between Silvis and Depue account cab signal territory.  As a side note, any ex PRR unit with operating cab signal would have worked, but the ICC said "No" because PRR cab signal used position lights indications (like their block signals) and the RI's used colors.  There was some concern that the Silvis based engineers used on this run had never even seen a position light signal, let alone know how to read it. 

    The idea of the 1:00 PM arrival at Silvis was to have the train there in time to add blocks off the Gemini to the various trains of the RI westbound fleet which started arriving Silvis around 1:45 PM.  The 2:30 AM Silvis departure put the train in with the early morning eastbound fleet.

    After about the second westbound train PC seemed to be unable to even get the train to Depue by 1:00 PM and the Rock Island had equal problems getting train out of Silvis on time. 

    I think the trains lasted maybe a month.