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Busses Replace Trains

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Busses Replace Trains
Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 11:06 AM

Although it's old news now,I just read on Trains news that it was announced that on Feb. 6-8 busses would replace some trains on the South Shore Line between South Bend and Muchigan City because of freezing rain/snow and frigid temperatures.  I always thought trains got through when traffic was at a standstill on the roads.  Now it seems busses are more reliable  -- why ??  --- what's going on ??  -- are busses better ?? 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 11:22 AM

nhrand

Although it's old news now,I just read on Trains news that it was announced that on Feb. 6-8 busses would replace some trains on the South Shore Line between South Bend and Muchigan City because of freezing rain/snow and frigid temperatures.  I always thought trains got through when traffic was at a standstill on the roads.  Now it seems busses are more reliable  -- why ??  --- what's going on ??  -- are busses better ?? 

I have read a lot of rail passenger feasibility studies in my day and almost all of them without exception will state that you will always lose passengers when you transition from rail to bus.    As there is not a 1 to 1 correlation.   Some train passengers wouldn't be caught dead on a bus.    It is not a high percentage, maybe 25 to 33% but that is a significant percentage if your talking a transfer on a point A to point B rail line.

The concern with South Shore obviously is that is where their street running is and they are concerned the bitter cold will pack the flangeways with ice leading to trains leaving the rails and finding new paths of operation.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 11:58 AM

The line between Michigan City and South Bend is part of an area subject to heavy lake effect snow.  Since both passenger and freight service is rather thin on this line, drifting snow is a potential problem.

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 Paul Milenkovic on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 3:56 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
nhrand

Although it's old news now,I just read on Trains news that it was announced that on Feb. 6-8 busses would replace some trains on the South Shore Line between South Bend and Muchigan City because of freezing rain/snow and frigid temperatures.  I always thought trains got through when traffic was at a standstill on the roads.  Now it seems busses are more reliable  -- why ??  --- what's going on ??  -- are busses better ?? 

 

I have read a lot of rail passenger feasibility studies in my day and almost all of them without exception will state that you will always lose passengers when you transition from rail to bus.    As there is not a 1 to 1 correlation.   Some train passengers wouldn't be caught dead on a bus.    It is not a high percentage, maybe 25 to 33% but that is a significant percentage if your talking a transfer on a point A to point B rail line.

The concern with South Shore obviously is that is where their street running is and they are concerned the bitter cold will pack the flangeways with ice leading to trains leaving the rails and finding new paths of operation.

 

 

There is no glamorous form of transportation.  At the end of the day, even the fanciest mode of transportation where you ride with strangers is another form of a bus.

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 4:04 PM

nhrand
I always thought trains got through when traffic was at a standstill on the roads.  Now it seems busses are more reliable  -- why ??  --- what's going on ??  -- are busses better ?? 

My guess:

1. roads are plowed by local/county/stae DOTs.  Rail ROWs, they have to take care of themselsves (and there aren't as many people working for the RR as in years past).

2. ice + catenary  = potential for downed wires.  Having the buses already fired up, staffed,  and ready to go doesn't sound like a bad idea.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 5:14 PM

This is a little off-topic, but I've wondered for years ...

Right before Christmas, 1989, we were leaving Chicago on Amtrak headed west.  Just out of the station, we saw quite a few fires in the tracks.

I assumed these were from a natural gas heater system to melt ice and snow from the switches.

First, is that correct?

Second, is this common in places with lots of ice and snow?

York1 John       

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Posted by Warren J on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 5:27 PM

York1

This is a little off-topic, but I've wondered for years ...

Right before Christmas, 1989, we were leaving Chicago on Amtrak headed west.  Just out of the station, we saw quite a few fires in the tracks.

I assumed these were from a natural gas heater system to melt ice and snow from the switches.

First, is that correct?

Second, is this common in places with lots of ice and snow?

 

I've seen this along mainline tracks as well as in train yards here in the mid-Atlantic region where we don't get much heavy snow but freezing rain and sleet are common.  Where there is no natural gas service, there are usually propane tanks nearby to keep switches operable.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 8:30 PM

Warren J
 
York1

This is a little off-topic, but I've wondered for years ...

Right before Christmas, 1989, we were leaving Chicago on Amtrak headed west.  Just out of the station, we saw quite a few fires in the tracks.

I assumed these were from a natural gas heater system to melt ice and snow from the switches.

First, is that correct?

Second, is this common in places with lots of ice and snow? 

I've seen this along mainline tracks as well as in train yards here in the mid-Atlantic region where we don't get much heavy snow but freezing rain and sleet are common.  Where there is no natural gas service, there are usually propane tanks nearby to keep switches operable.

Some of what you are seeing are what are termed 'smudge pots' that are placed in the tie cribs - they are fueled by kerosene and when lit heat the rail that is immediately on top of the fire.  Keeping the rail warm prevents snow and ice from bulding up and preventing the switches from working when needed.

 There are numerous other kinds and styles of equipment that are also used to keep switches operational during snow events.

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 8:33 PM

Thanks, Warren and Balt.  I know next to nothing on railroad operations, and this was something I hadn't seen.

York1 John       

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 8:36 PM

In some places you will see propane tanks (pigs) as the fuel source.

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 10:56 PM

Surely rail systems in areas of heavy snow have figured this out? What did the streetcar systems that existed in areas south of the great lakes do before buses were practical? I have seen here in Toronto that when heavy snow is happening, streetcars are run quite often to keep the rails and wires clear. Haven't they figured that out on the South Shore? The system has existed for over 100 years, so? 

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 11:03 PM

The railroads don't have the armies of manpower they did even a generation ago. 

 And having a train full of people stranded without power in the cold doesn't make a good tiktok. 

 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 9:34 AM

54light15
Surely rail systems in areas of heavy snow have figured this out? What did the streetcar systems that existed in areas south of the great lakes do before buses were practical? I have seen here in Toronto that when heavy snow is happening, streetcars are run quite often to keep the rails and wires clear. Haven't they figured that out on the South Shore? The system has existed for over 100 years, so? 

It takes one thing to defeat (or at least hold a bay) Winter weather.

MANPOWER.

21st Century railroads pride themselves on what they can accomplish without much manpower.  There is your problem.  The South Shore of 100 years ago threw all their manpower (a considerably larger number) into their efforts to keeping the system running. They don't even employ that number of people these days.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 12:43 PM

54light15

Surely rail systems in areas of heavy snow have figured this out? What did the streetcar systems that existed in areas south of the great lakes do before buses were practical? I have seen here in Toronto that when heavy snow is happening, streetcars are run quite often to keep the rails and wires clear. Haven't they figured that out on the South Shore? The system has existed for over 100 years, so? 

 

Cities on the south and east shores of the Great Lakes tend to get more heavy snows because of prevailing winds and lake effect. Thus places on the south end of Lake Michigan )Michogan City or South Bend or Gary) or Lake Erie (Cleveland, Buffalo) or Lake Ontario (Rochester) get more snow than cities on the opposite (north or west) shores, such as Chicago, Detroit or Toronto.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 2:10 PM

54light15
54light15 wrote the following post 15 hours ago: Surely rail systems in areas of heavy snow have figured this out? What did the streetcar systems that existed in areas south of the great lakes do before buses were practical? I have seen here in Toronto that when heavy snow is happening, streetcars are run quite often to keep the rails and wires clear. Haven't they figured that out on the South Shore? The system has existed for over 100 years, so? 

True but not in -20 and -30 windchill conditions which I believe is what is forecast the last few days of this week.   Also, mentioned earlier is the South Shore is not running a lot of frequency over these lines.

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Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 4:53 PM

I know about the lake effect, that's for sure. I drove on the NY thruway one winter and from Buffalo to Syracuse it was like Siberia, but by the time I reached Utica, the snow had diminished to where grass was showing in places. Cities like Barrie, Ontario get the lake effect from Georgian Bay and it gets pretty deep. I'm just north of Lake Ontario and while it gets cold, we don't normally get a lot of snow but on occasion we get buried. Spring will be here in 6 weeks! 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 10:06 PM

I think the freezing rain/ice was the problem.  Does the line shut down for every snow? 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, February 11, 2021 9:40 PM

Every year, a story appears on the TV stations about the "TRACKS ON FIRE" calls.

The Western Av interlocking between the former Milwaukee Rd & C&NW has been using gas heaters for over a hundred years. They have been retained because the spacing between switches and tracks does not lend itself to the hot air blowers that are now used at most other interlockings. In heavy snowstorms, the snow can get packed and ice can fall off the trains and clog the switches which the heaters helps prevent. To the west (left) of the plant are the C&NW  and the MLW coach yards. Commuter trains can come on three minute headways at rushhour. Electro-pneumatic switches facilitate quick route clearings. 

Here are two stories. And a track layout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REhIqRa3zO4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HHqZMHRJQ8

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