Any future for the CSX Altenheim Sub in Chicago?

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Any future for the CSX Altenheim Sub in Chicago?
Posted by Sawtooth500 on Sunday, January 31, 2010 3:02 AM
Ever since CN bought the EJ&E, I haven't see a single CN train on the CSX Altenheim. I know that the altenheim sub has been dormant east of the BRC main (since 2002 I believe due to 2 condemned bridges), and now the only action I've seen on the Altenheim is a CSX local making a run to an active shipper in forest park (the one on the Eisenhower expressway right before the rails go over the eisenhower). Along the Eisenhower it seems like CSX is now using the altenheim for railcar storage, and after it curves north from the Eisenhower tracks seem rusty.

So has CN officially abandoned any and all plans of their use of the Altenheim? Any I know sometime back I heard of the WSOR eyeing this route as their access to the BRC main instead of their current Metra/CP route... any update on that? Or is the altenheim on it's way to abandonment?
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Posted by jscott on Monday, February 01, 2010 9:24 PM

Not officially abandoned yet, but well on its way. Its utility dropped to zero when CN got the EJ&E. No need for the WC to use this route into the city when they can bypass it on the J. As a former part of the CREATE program the Alt sub would have required a complete rebuild of track and structure and the rebuilding and/or replacement of the bridges. All that's mute with the J in the family. Scott
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 12:22 PM

Exactly what are the end points of this sub so we can look it up on a map?

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Posted by CShaveRR on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 1:05 PM
blue streak 1

Exactly what are the end points of this sub so we can look it up on a map?

Chicago (Ogden Junction on UP) to Forest Park, and its connection with the Wisconsin Central. You'd probably need a large-scale map to make sense out of what's being said here. Historically, this was B&OCT's line to give access to Grand Central Station to the Soo Line and the Chicago Great Western.

A few years back I would make bike trips in to see what I could find along this line--usually a WC train would be sitting somewhere there, probably waiting its turn on the BRC. There was a years-long soil reclamation project in Oak Park that required construction of an extra track and the loading of "dirty dirt" in containers. A really neat concept, while it lasted. CSX took the cars to someplace in eastern Michigan, IIRC. Now the only industry along there is Ferrera Pan Candy (and long may Lemonheads, Atomic Fireballs, and other such goodies receive their ingredients by rail!).

Carl

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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 3:40 PM

Ferrera Pan Candy has to be a sweet account for CSX. 

I actually drove past the line today and didnt even notice anything.  It used to be a CN or before that WC train was always on the line. 

Ed

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Posted by Sawtooth500 on Saturday, February 06, 2010 12:54 AM
jscott

Not officially abandoned yet, but well on its way. Its utility dropped to zero when CN got the EJ&E. No need for the WC to use this route into the city when they can bypass it on the J. As a former part of the CREATE program the Alt sub would have required a complete rebuild of track and structure and the rebuilding and/or replacement of the bridges. All that's mute with the J in the family. Scott
Did you mean the WC or WSOR? The WC hasn't been around for a while, and yes they'd just use the J as they were merged into CN. But I remember somewhere someplace reading an article that the WSOR wanted this route to access the Clearing yard - this was when CP thought they were going to build into powder river and WSOR was concerned about increased traffic on the current CP route into the clearing yard and wanted to secure an alternate route for themselves... I know the line has no future with CN, but possibly the rails won't be ripped up for the sake of the WSOR?
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Posted by UChicagoMatt on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 6:49 PM

The matra system (intra-airport transit) is being extended east of Mannheim to the new centralized car rental facility. It is immediately adjacent to the Metra North Central Line O'Hare station. Midwest HSR has proposed a new station that would be seemlessly integrated into the new building. From here the CN (ex-Soo, ex-WC) is the no-brainer south to the junction with the B&OCT/Soo south along the Eisenhower east nearly to the loop. This route has almost no road crossings and would be high speed nearly all the way. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 6:59 AM

There is still a fair number of grade crossings on the ex-WC between O'Hare and Forest Park.  Most of the bridges on the Altenheim Sub would also need to be rebuilt.  The line is hardly high-speed without major rebuilding.

More telling, Metra's North Central Service uses the MILW West Line for access to Chicago Union Station.

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 rcdrye on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 7:52 AM

The line also threads a residential neighborhood in River Forest on an embankment before crossing Madison St at the River Forest/Forest Park line (dividing line between CN/WC/Soo and CSX/B&OCT).  I spent a long time looking at that section out the windows of my elementary school. The fill and alignment would have to be completely upgraded.  The changes made in the 1990s to clear double stacks on the C&NW/UP also forced single tracking.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, January 15, 2018 12:21 AM
What did they change in the 1990s? I grew up 1975-2001 in RF on Greenfield near Division and Thatcher and this was the first line I rail fanned in the late 80s, early 90s. I recall zero changes to the line. The Bridge over the C&NW was a single track choke point before the 1990s, but the Soo Portion running north west from there is former double track and the bridges all had the second deck still. Sad that this line is surplus. Along with the old Chicago Central tracks in North Riverside being pulled up, Naught but big UP on the Geneva sub (I miss nose bells darn it) many of my original haunts are disappearing. I remember the persistent Metra Rumors for the line. And it was always a thrill to get stopped on Thatcher by a pair of bright white Soo SD40-2s in the 80s. And Later, my first Railfan picture was a shot of a former BN SD45 trundling past a little park as it crossed residential streets in RF.
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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, January 15, 2018 8:58 AM

I left River Forest in 1970.  At the time, the Lake Street bridge was still double track, and still had boards and hangers for Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar wire (C&WT went to buses in 1947).  The C&NW bridge was double track, and the double track extended to the junction with the CGW/C&NW in Forest Park.  The piers and abutments for the C&NW bridge show clearly that they had carried double track at one time. Looking at Street View it appears that the eastern span was retained, as cut off transverse I-beams can be seen on the west side below the plate girders,  The pads to raise the bridge's elevation are also clearly visible in photos from street level  Making the Lake Street bridge single track was easy since it is a deck girder design, so it only involved moving the track to the center of the structure and raising it a foot or two.  The other bridges (Chicago Ave., Oak St, Washington Blvd) are all double track through girder - none of them have full-height clearance for trucks. I don't know what year the changes were made as I didn't see the C&NW bridge between 1970 and 1990, and I wasn't where I could see the track changes.  I guess I assumed the changes were made along with the other changes for double stacks, like raising the Belt Railway bridge at Kenton.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, January 15, 2018 1:44 PM
Yeah, the Sat view clearly shows that the bridge was moved. It is possible it was raised sometime in the 80s or 90s. Certainly I would have remembered such construction I would think and I don't, but certainly it was single track well before that point so if it was raised more recently it was done separately. That would have been major work.
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Posted by CShaveRR on Monday, January 15, 2018 8:33 PM

Stack trains became a reality in 1983 or 1984.  At that point, they could not be run under the Soo at River Forest.  The interim solution was to lower the south track of the CNW main line significantly to provide permissible clearance for stack cars (and high auto racks).  Eventually, though the bridge itself was raised and the dip in the track was leveled out again.  

Should the CSX/WC track be abandoned, there is still a significant elevation change that could eventually be corrected.

Carl

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CAACSCOCOM--I don't want to behave improperly, so I just won't behave at all. (SM)

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:59 PM

That dip is Certainly present. DO you know what year the bridge was raised? I find it hard to believe I would have missed this or forgotten it. If nothing else I would have seen the equipment from the Keystone Little league fields.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 10:22 AM

The embankment is significantly lower under the Soo/WC/CN bridge dating back to its original construction- the underpass on Keystone only clears 11 feet and floods regularly.  There is no underpass at Forest Avenue on the west side of the bridge nor is there one at Park Avenue on the east side. Franklin (two blocks east) only clears 10'8".

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:22 AM

Don't I know it. I lived on Greenfield between Thatcher and Park and trips to the Ike involved driving park all the way to the PD/FD station and jogging over to Franklin or Lathrop depending on which route to the freeway I was taking. Similar, I commuted down to UIC and for a couple years used the Blue line. Every morning driving Park to the trains, then Jogging over. This is all fascinating stuff I always wondered about growing up but am just now thinking to ask. I remember 1 time, I road my bike to the Altenheim crossing of Forest, walked it up to the Iowa St Viaduct so it wouldn't be seen and walked the line all the way to Desplaines Ave where I got out, walked to the Blue line station, bought a cheap hot chocolate and called my mom collect to come get me. She was...displeased. I had to work up the courage to cross the CNW, constantly worried a train would catch me out there. Obviously now older and wiser, I would, at a minimum have called for permission to do such a thing, but that didn't enter my mind back then.

 

I don't know that I ever saw it on Franklin or Keystone, but I can remember multiple instances of trucks getting a haircut via viaduct on Harlem.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, January 18, 2018 6:42 AM

My viaduct "haircut" memory was when the Brach's Candy truck tried Chicago Avenue in 1969.  The street looked like a mardi gras parade had passed.  On the C&NW side, both the Thatcher and Keystone viaducts had low floors.  The drains in them often plugged resulting in small lakes under the tracks.

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Posted by Chris30 on Monday, January 22, 2018 11:06 PM

Well lookie here... Not. Dead. Yet.

After the CN purchased the EJ&E in 2009 trains on the ex-Soo & WC through River Forest dropped to nothing by 2010. Still, the CN has continued to maintain the tracks, signals, crossing devices, etc. from roughly Franklin Park to Forest Park where it connects with the CSX Altenheim Sub; just in case this route is needed as an emergency detour route.

On January 12, 2018 the village of River Forest posted a community alert on their website to let residents know that: "The Canadian National Railway (CN) has informed the Village that they will be running engines/locomotives on the CN line beginning as early as tomorrow, Saturday, January 13, 2018. These runs may contain empty rail cars as part of their normal due diligence to ensure their rail line remains an active line. Please remember that although not currently used, the CN line is still considered an active rail line."

I can't find anything that would indicate that CN actually did make some kind of a move on, or near, the date listed above, or if it was possibly delayed. (One possible reason for delay could be that CN couldn't find an engineer willing to take anything over a very sketchy looking Des Plaines river bridge.) Blindfold If anybody has more info, please post it. 

Full community alert from River Forest here:

https://www.vrf.us/news/item/39

Other recent (10/17) info here:

http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-17-2017/No-plans-for-CN-traffic,-but-track-still-%27active%27/

Chris

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 6:41 AM

When I went to Lincoln School in River Forest the fifth and sixth grade classrooms were on the Park Avenue side at about track level. I could usually count on about ten movements a day, with everything from switchers to U30Cs and SD40s. The rare F-unit (or anything in the old Soo Line scheme) was a treat, along with the once-in-a-blue-moon DM&IR SD9.   Over on the C&NW there were a lot of "foreign" transfer moves with NYC (later PC) and even Erie-Lackawanna power headed for Proviso Yard - I just couldn't see them out the window!  I was very young when the Laker moved to the IC/IHB routing, but I do remember seeing it.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 10:36 AM

In the 80s it was all SOO SD40-2s. Or, I guess they could have been other units, but I remember them as SD40-2s. Always in SOO white. Never a Bandit for instance. in the 90s it was usually 2 WC SD45s, one in BN green, the other painted Maroon. C&NW was mostly SD40-2s until the Dash 9s started to show up. There was some form of transfer to Proviso that was almost always a Conrail SD50 and a C&NW SD40-2. I think I saw an old GEEP up there twice and in both cases I had to turn around and drive back...with no camera. I remember once, the Year SP got that direct connection into Chicago, I saw a Speed Lettered SP SD40 in a train on the C&NW. The first SP unit I'd ever seen in person.

 

 

Anyway, When was the Desplains River Bridge last worked on? I never walked out there to see it, I had a (probably irrational) fear of homeless and Satan Worshippers (West side Forest Preserve urban legends!) Even though I literally lived a block from Thatcher and could walk there.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, January 26, 2018 6:56 AM

I think the U30Cs were only there for about a year and a half before road failures sent them north to hang around Minneapolis.  Those, and the first SD40s, always seemed to run in threesomes. The Soo's Des Plaines River bridge was built in the 1920s (there are some publicity shots of the "Soo-Dominion" there in the 1920s in one of Arthur Dubin's "Classic Trains" books).  The abutments were reworked in the 1960s.  Of course the bridge was designed for double track and rated for steam locomotives at least as large as Soo's N-20 4-8-2s.

There used to be a pretty good path to get there from the Forest Preserve entrance at Chicago Avenue.

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