New Commuter Rail proposal would suppliment Amtrak - Chicago -Milwaukee

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New Commuter Rail proposal would suppliment Amtrak - Chicago -Milwaukee
Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, April 01, 2018 3:12 PM

This is crazy, because a few ultra rich Northern Illinois folks complain, lets develop a totally new rail line in Wisconsin to speed things up instead of using the existing Amtrak route. 

    The new route would use CP RR line West of the Amtrak Station but would proceed North along the former Milwaukee Road North Line instead of veering West on the West Line as the Empire Builder now does I beileve this route was last used by C&NW Passenger Trains to get to the lines to Fond Du Lac and Sheboygan, etc.  after they abandoned the Lakefront line North of Milwaukee.   However in this case the commuter train would terminate in NW Milwaukee before the ex-C&NW connection.

South of the Amtrak station they would use the former C&NW Lake Line through St. Francis and Racine and connect with Metra at Kenosha.    They would still go ahead with the expansion to 10 trains each direction on the Amtrak route in addition to this, eventually.......I don't think it is a substitute, they just think they can get there quicker with the new route.

I like that Aldermans thinking.... quote is paraphrasing and is probably not exact:  "We are spending $4 Billion already, what difference is a little more.."......lol.   Cha-Ching!

https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2018/03/28/eyes-on-milwaukee-commuter-rail-to-foxconn-proposed/

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, April 02, 2018 7:18 AM

And just which agency would operate this service?  The RTA could not operate it since it has no authority within the state of Wisconsin.

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 CMStPnP on Monday, April 02, 2018 10:31 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

And just which agency would operate this service?  The RTA could not operate it since it has no authority within the state of Wisconsin.

It would be either WisDOT or they would create an RTA like other states have done.   They have talked about SEWPREC or whatever, establishing a RTA in the past because this is beyond what one county can afford and it is too regional I think for the State to pay for it via WisDOT.

North Texas is on the edge of creating a RTA for further expansion of commutter rail as DART seems to have reached it's limit of willing cities that want to contribute.   So Dallas needs an RTA to get past that blokage to reach cities further out that want service.    Also they want to switch from Light Rail to either DMU or heavy Rail METRA like service for the farther out communities because according to DART, Light Rail is far more expensive per mile than a METRA type service or a DMU type service.     Go figure because I would think a METRA type service would be more expensive than Light Rail.    

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, April 02, 2018 6:44 PM

CMStPnP

according to DART, Light Rail is far more expensive per mile than a METRA type service or a DMU type service.     Go figure because I would think a METRA type service would be more expensive than Light Rail.    

 
That really brings up a host of questions. Construction cost for heavy rail probably more unless on a mixed use rail line.  But operating costs may be less over the long term ( 100 years )as heavy rail does not have to deal as much with operating in streets ? Expect each location will have different metrics ?
 
Sun rail and TriRail certainly costs less by using former CSX tracks.  But a location such as Phoenix with light rail in different streets had no possibility to build heavy rail on proposed routes so light rail will have the higher operating costs.  
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Posted by Topekasub on Monday, April 02, 2018 6:51 PM

Look at the Hartford Line in Connecticut as a similar service model.  I have always thought the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee ex-C&NW line is a natural transit corridor that will take some pressure off the Amtrak Hiawatha line.  When Amtrak was formed, C&NW argued it's Chicago to Milwaukee line was commuter rather than an intercity service, thus not to be considered part of the proposed national route system.  That was a poor transportation decision at that time to cut it back to Kenosha.  They need to establish an funding agency to get this done!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, April 02, 2018 7:35 PM

Could DART light rail be more expensive because of the electrification costs, vs. DMU commuter rail?

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Posted by Topekasub on Monday, April 02, 2018 7:41 PM

I read the article again, and it was actually the Illinois Attty. Gen. William Scott, that argued the Chicago-Milwaukee trains were a glorified commuter run and still required permission to end them to be obtained from the Interstate Commerce Commission or the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Well, back then Wisconsin wasn't going to get involved with funding, and Amtrak wasn't going to run two parallel lines.  C&NW got their way. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 9:54 PM

MidlandMike

Could DART light rail be more expensive because of the electrification costs, vs. DMU commuter rail?

My observation of Light Rail vs TRE rail at least in the Dallas Area is Dart builds lots of Concrete flyovers over busy roads instead of using RR Crossings (grades are pretty steep), in the City they already have one subway / tunnel (2-3 miles long).    Adding to the costs, double track, reverse CTC, double crossovers,  usually top of the line crossing gates and crossing booms at major street crossings.   DART Trainsets are all bought new.....I think from SIEMENS, all DART stations are new.    Yes then you have the overhead electrical.   DART built to 70 mph standards in the suburbs, have clocked trains going that fast via parallel highway, though  I have no idea what the speed limit is.    DART employees are actually paid transit system employees and DART has it's own police force.   DART track is exclusively for DART no freight operations so far.

TRE, normal RR crossings, though they seem to be moving to quad gates, limited flyovers, reuse of existing RR right of way, started as single track but now slowly extending to double track.    Used equipment from GO Transit.  Signaling system looks like a mixture of legacy and new.    Not a lot of track crossovers when there are two tracks.    Some stations are nothing more than a shed.   TRE crews are all Herzog Contrractors for the most part.    Not sure about their small shops complex, South of DFW Airport.   TRE shares track with existing freight railroads......BNSF, Dallas Garland and Northeastern (DGNO).

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Posted by zardoz on Saturday, April 07, 2018 10:11 PM

CMStPnP

South of the Amtrak station they would use the former C&NW Lake Line through St. Francis and Racine and connect with Metra at Kenosha. 

Single track from Kenosha to St. Francis (Kenosha sub); all sidings tore out; all signal systems removed; track mostly jointed rail barely good enough for 40mph.

However, on the plus side, the Kenosha sub tracks pass thru communities that would likely benefit (St. Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Racine). In addition, the ROW was once double-track, so much of the original roadbed is still in place.

Quite a pricey chunk of track to bring up to 79mph + PTC + signals, etc....

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Perhaps the new trains could use the Union Pacific's Milwaukee sub from Milwaukee to Bain (Kenosha county). From Bain the trains would have to turn east and traverse the Farm sub from Bain to Kenosha, where they could turn right and head south on Metra's tracks.

Of course, the tracks on the Farm sub thru Kenosha are 10mph, no signals, few protected crossings, although welded rail was laid a few years ago and seems in good shape.

Either way, an expensive proposal.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, April 07, 2018 11:41 PM

zardoz

Perhaps the new trains could use the Union Pacific's Milwaukee sub from Milwaukee to Bain (Kenosha county). From Bain the trains would have to turn east and traverse the Farm sub from Bain to Kenosha, where they could turn right and head south on Metra's tracks.

Of course, the tracks on the Farm sub thru Kenosha are 10mph, no signals, few protected crossings, although welded rail was laid a few years ago and seems in good shape.

Either way, an expensive proposal.

Believe it or not WisDOT has the UP Milwaukee Sub as a potential future host of Canadian Pacific Frieght Trains and turning it into a joint UP / CP line for freight only.    Thats if they continue above the 10 RT frequency of Amtrak Chicago to Milwaukee Trains or attempt to raise the speed above 110 mph.     

WisDOT wants the CP Railway Chicago to Milwaukee route for itself and Amtrak at some point and has stated as much in long range future forecasts.     If that ever happens CP will charge a kings ransom for the track.........you can bet on that and rerouting the traffic and laying of new rail would also cost quite a bit of money.    Though it would reduce congestion on the METRA tracks a little.    Moving CP freights to a new Muskego Yard bypass and away from the Amtrak Depot is just phase I.    

BTW, also interesting they have talked about moving the Amtrak Depot in Milwaukee, further North up to a location North of Wisconsin Avenue or even building a second Depot along the ex-C&NW approaches to the former Lakefront Depot but stopping short of Wisconsin Ave.

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Posted by Topekasub on Sunday, April 08, 2018 8:59 AM

That last idea has a lot of merit, especially when you figure in the Summerfest grounds.  Also,the C&NW old line must be one of the most densely populated urban corridors in the country without rail passenger service.  If Wisconsin spent the kind of money that Conneticut is spending on the Springfield line, we would be back in business!

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Posted by zardoz on Sunday, April 08, 2018 1:54 PM

CMStPnP

 

Believe it or not WisDOT has the UP Milwaukee Sub as a potential future host of Canadian Pacific Frieght Trains and turning it into a joint UP / CP line for freight only.    Thats if they continue above the 10 RT frequency of Amtrak Chicago to Milwaukee Trains or attempt to raise the speed above 110 mph.     

  

Many moons ago there was talk of making the CNW/CP tracks directional running for freight (i.e. northbound on the CNW, southbound on the CP). There was also discussions regarding single-tracking the CP, which is why for many years the CP had nice welded rail on track 2, but stick rail on track 1, as track 1 was to be used for sidings. Of course, the increase in freight business as well as Amtrak trains eventually ended such a silly idea.

I don't see how the UP Milwaukee sub could handle the number of trains the CP runs through here. The Milwaukee sub is single-track from Gurnee to Airport, with only two sidings (Bain ond Siding K). It has only block signals, and the siding switches are all manual.

Perhaps if the Kenosha sub was brought up to modern standards, some of the UP freight could run there which would reduce the potential congestion on the Milwaukee sub, at least north of KO. I don't have official numbers for train frequency on the CP's C&M sub, but with my windows open at home (I live less than a mile from the CP and 3/4 mile from the UP), I hear trains going by at least every hour (CP trains + UP trains + Amtrak). 

Sure, it could be done...all that is needed is lotsa $$$$.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, April 08, 2018 11:34 PM

zardoz
I don't have official numbers for train frequency on the CP's C&M sub

Officially by the last WisDOT count it's a little over one train an hour for CP or about 25-30 trains a day Chicago to Milwaukee.   Plus 1-2 WSOR.   So a Max of 32 Frieght trains on CP plus 7 Amtrak RT (soon to be 10 from what I read).

I think UP's train count Chicago to Milwaukee is less than 17 if I am not mistaken but I forget what WisDOT stated it was exactly.

WSOR come in from the Milw NW line and branch off again using the West Line to Bensenville Yard.    Though I spotted one WSOR train just South of Milwaukee, so maybe they also do Milwaukee-Bensenville as well depending on where they originate on WSOR system.    I would think Madison or West would travel over NW line to Bensenville and Oshkosh / Horicon would use the North Line and travel Milwaukee to Bensenville.    I have no real idea on WSOR.....just guessing on routes they use.

C&NW had ATS on all or parts of their Lakefront line I thought at one point.   I know it is gone now though probably.

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Posted by zardoz on Monday, April 09, 2018 1:43 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
zardoz
I don't have official numbers for train frequency on the CP's C&M sub

 

Officially by the last WisDOT count it's a little over one train an hour for CP or about 25-30 trains a day Chicago to Milwaukee.   Plus 1-2 WSOR.   So a Max of 32 Frieght trains on CP plus 7 Amtrak RT (soon to be 10 from what I read).

I think UP's train count Chicago to Milwaukee is less than 17 if I am not mistaken but I forget what WisDOT stated it was exactly.

WSOR come in from the Milw NW line and branch off again using the West Line to Bensenville Yard.    Though I spotted one WSOR train just South of Milwaukee, so maybe they also do Milwaukee-Bensenville as well depending on where they originate on WSOR system.    I would think Madison or West would travel over NW line to Bensenville and Oshkosh / Horicon would use the North Line and travel Milwaukee to Bensenville.    I have no real idea on WSOR.....just guessing on routes they use.

C&NW had ATS on all or parts of their Lakefront line I thought at one point.   I know it is gone now though probably.

 

At least from 1973 (when I hired out) there was no ATS north of Kenosha. I do not recall ever seeing any remnants of ATS inductors, so if it was pulled out, it must have happened years before '73.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, April 09, 2018 2:29 PM

zardoz
At least from 1973 (when I hired out) there was no ATS north of Kenosha. I do not recall ever seeing any remnants of ATS inductors, so if it was pulled out, it must have happened years before '73.

   

That is interesting.    Either I read it wrong OR they took it out before Amtrak was  to consider which route to use but I am not sure, let me see if I can find the study again.    Meanwhile check this out.   

Apparently a MBA student at UWM did his dissertation on examining why KRM died as a proposal........interesting reading that remains politically neutral.    Not sure how accurate his dissertation is but I like to read the politically neutral approaches to see how both sides screwed this KRM proposal up.

dc.uwm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1412&context=etd

 Walker gets slammed a lot in these forums for being anti-rail and he is actually NOT anti-rail.     He is a political opportunist though that will take advantage of a political opportunity (agree totally with the analysis above).     However, the Democrats shift all over the map on their support for rail (again evidenced in the above).    So I think he did a good job at being neutral and pretty closely accurately reflects what happened with KRM.

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Posted by zardoz on Monday, April 09, 2018 9:19 PM

CMStPnP
zardoz
At least from 1973 (when I hired out) there was no ATS north of Kenosha. I do not recall ever seeing any remnants of ATS inductors, so if it was pulled out, it must have happened years before '73.

 

  That is interesting.    Either I read it wrong OR they took it out before Amtrak was  to consider which route to use but I am not sure, let me see if I can find the study again.    Meanwhile check this out.   

Apparently a MBA student at UWM did his dissertation on examining why KRM died as a proposal........interesting reading that remains politically neutral.    Not sure how accurate his dissertation is but I like to read the politically neutral approaches to see how both sides screwed this KRM proposal up.

dc.uwm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1412&context=etd

 Walker gets slammed a lot in these forums for being anti-rail and he is actually NOT anti-rail.     He is a political opportunist though that will take advantage of a political opportunity (agree totally with the analysis above).     However, the Democrats shift all over the map on their support for rail (again evidenced in the above).    So I think he did a good job at being neutral and pretty closely accurately reflects what happened with KRM.

 

That study looks interesting, and I will have to peruse it in more detail as time permits.

However, as an FYI, I did notice an error on page 4:

"Metra service to Kenosha was paid for by the Union Pacific railroad because of the ease of turning around trains in the already existing facility."

The real reason for running the trains to Kenosha was insufficient room at Waukegan to store and service the trains, unless significant infrastructure was built at the south end of Waukegan yard (specifically ground-supplied HEP), and having four commuter trains parked in the yard all night would have interfered with freight operations, especially for the coal trains. In-ground HEP was already established in Kenosha.

Regarding the 'turning of trains' as a reason, the trains were never turned unless there was significant reason (never happened in my 30+ years). 

The first early-morning train out of Kenosha (departing at 0558) was turned "permanently" during winter, due to potential ice accumulation on the crossings between Waukegan and Kenosha (few freights used the line during the week as to avoid interfering with the suburban operation). Thus, the crossings could accumulate a good amount of ice in the flageways. Having the locomotive lead greatly minimized the problem. The turning was done at the layover facility in Chicago.

EDIT: I just remembered one occasion where a suburban train was turned at Kenosha. It was about -20 degrees.

It was one of the trains that layed-over in Kenosha. When the crew brought the equipment out of the yard in the morning to put it on the hill for departure, they discovered that the cab-car controls were literally frozen.

The heat had gone out on the control end of the car, and as the cabcar faces directly north and takes the brunt of winter cold, the controls were non-functional. No matter how much alcohol the carman dumped into the trainline, the controls would not budge. So the crew backed the train up the hill on the north leg of the wye which placed the locomotive in the lead.

There might have been other occasions that I don't know about that occurred when I was working freight.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 8:22 PM

zardoz
zardoz

 

According to the C&NW Historical Society website:    C&NW installed ATS from Chicago to Wyeville, WI in 1952.    It does not say when it was removed.   I am guessing the late 1960's but still searching because I am curious.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 8:52 PM

Here is where I read it.   Now this is an older study on the KRM line from the 1990's but it states ATS / ABS removed in 1987      Section starts on the bottom of page 41 and goes to page 43.     It might be a typo and they might have meant 1967.

www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPCFiles/Publications/.../capr-239_feasibility_study_krm.pdf

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Posted by zardoz on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:03 PM

CMStPnP

Here is where I read it.   Now this is an older study on the KRM line from the 1990's but it states ATS / ABS removed in 1987      Section starts on the bottom of page 41 and goes to page 43.     It might be a typo and they might have meant 1967.

www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPCFiles/Publications/.../capr-239_feasibility_study_krm.pdf

 

I tried to read the report, but all I got was an error message.

ATS may indeed have been removed in 1969, but the ABS removal date of 1987 seems about right.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:47 PM

zardoz
I tried to read the report, but all I got was an error message.

Here is the unmangled URL to the PDF file download:

www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPCFiles/Publications/CAPR/capr-239_feasibility_study_krm.pdf

I have not read it yet, but it indicates as being successfully downloaded (on a Mac running OS X 10.9.5 and Firefox 58.0.2

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 2:32 AM

The newer study states traffic on the ex-C&NW rails (which itself is dated to the KRM proposal), they count a train as a train for any distance that it runs on the corridor..........it doesn't have to run the full distance.:

ex-C&NW Lakefront Line: 18 Metra Trains to Kenosha, WI, 4 Freight Trains one of which was a RT Coal Train (counts for 2).

ex-C&NW Milwaukee Sub:  15-17 Freight Trains.

CP Chicago-Milwaukee :  24-30 Freight Trains. plus 2 WSOR trains plus 7 Amtrak RT trains (14 trains?)

They did not count CN and I realize it is out of the study but it would be kind of nice to know the total Milwaukee-Chicago count.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:38 AM

CN wasn't counted because the ex-SOO main north out of Chicago doesn't go directly to Milwaukee but passes about 10-15 miles to the west.

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 CMStPnP on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 7:52 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

CN wasn't counted because the ex-SOO main north out of Chicago doesn't go directly to Milwaukee but passes about 10-15 miles to the west.

I know I grew up in that area Brookfield - Duplainville.    CN still has trackage rights from Duplainville to Milwaukee over CP but I have never seen them used outside of a Amtrak Special Train to Oshkosh or WSOR Frieght Train.

WisDot has a long term goal of using that connection to establish Milwaukee - Green Bay Amtrak service by 2050.......says their long-term plan.

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Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:47 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
CSSHEGEWISCH

CN wasn't counted because the ex-SOO main north out of Chicago doesn't go directly to Milwaukee but passes about 10-15 miles to the west.

 

I know I grew up in that area Brookfield - Duplainville.    CN still has trackage rights from Duplainville to Milwaukee over CP but I have never seen them used outside of a Amtrak Special Train to Oshkosh or WSOR Frieght Train.

WisDot has a long term goal of using that connection to establish Milwaukee - Green Bay Amtrak service by 2050.......says their long-term plan.

 

A few yers ago there was a daily way-freight that did a round-trip between Duplainville and Muskego yard. I do not remember the train symbol.

 

Regarding the future Milwaukee-Green Bay service, by 2050 we will likely either be flying around in Jetson-type vehicles, or rummaging thru scrap heaps looking for food.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:17 AM

zardoz
Regarding the future Milwaukee-Green Bay service, by 2050 we will likely either be flying around in Jetson-type vehicles, or rummaging thru scrap heaps looking for food.

Actually, I'd rather have Don Oltmann's future from the 2040s, logically carried forward a few extra refining years and the technology adapted for regional rail.  Come to think of it, it's about time for him to come out with a blog entry updating what the detail design of the future is likely to be.

Personally, I see the future involving zunum-like technology for a great deal of longer-range optional and business transport, but have always wanted a Motie car that folds into a briefcase, and am prepared to wait.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:30 AM

Re: Zunum--Battery powered, fly by wire, no pilot, And named after a Hummingbird...no thanks! 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:48 AM

zardoz
Regarding the future Milwaukee-Green Bay service, by 2050 we will likely either be flying around in Jetson-type vehicles, or rummaging thru scrap heaps looking for food.

Ha-ha, I did ask a local Railroad Club why they do not do any more excursions up the old WC.    The issue they kept comming back to was CN being less than receptive compared to WC.    They also said CN managed to rip up every piece of spare track around Oshkosh, they couldn't find anywhere to layover the train during the EAA.    I thought they retained the former C&NW Oshkosh yard by the long ago Pioneer Inn but I have not been up there in a while.

I think Amtrak can force some issues but I have my doubts Amtrak will find it easier dealing with CN.   Maybe one reason they pushed it out so far in the future.

Last time I rode the route was Burlington, WI to Fond Du Lac behind the 261 but that was when WC owned the track.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, April 20, 2018 3:30 PM
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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:55 AM

charlie hebdo
This project would greatly benefit Hiawatha service.  

I agree but also very expensive.   METRA seems to be far behind in capacity improvements or capacity improvement projects.

METRA should triple track the North Line with funds from Amtrak, Wisconsin and CP,  in my view keeping it largely double track is a big part of the congestion problem.      Though even with triple track it would be constrained by all the crossover traffic (where flyovers could be built).

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Posted by zardoz on Monday, April 23, 2018 12:07 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
charlie hebdo
This project would greatly benefit Hiawatha service.  

 

I agree but also very expensive.   METRA seems to be far behind in capacity improvements or capacity improvement projects.

METRA should triple track the North Line with funds from Amtrak, Wisconsin and CP,  in my view keeping it largely double track is a big part of the congestion problem.      Though even with triple track it would be constrained by all the crossover traffic (where flyovers could be built).

 

A flyover at A2? Good luck with getting enough $$ for that project.

Regarding triple-tracking the North line--where? Metra removed the 3rd track between CY and Evanston (although with significant bridge work it could be rebuilt); there's no room through Hubbard Woods or Winnetka or Lake Bluff; the elevation through Kenosha from 91st Street to 35th Street isn't wide enough; the old "swing" bridge over the Root River in Racine has no room for another track.

Doable but at such huge expense that it is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

Progress is always change, but change is not always progress.

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