• Passenger Servicing in Chicago

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Tadman
Given that Michigan Central trains were usually based out of IC's Central Station rather than LaSalle, where most NYC passenger trains were based, where did Michigan Central passenger trains get serviced? At an IC facility? An NYC facility? And were they brought over from LaSalle's servicing area to Central Station prior to departure?
  by ExCon90
Now that the subject has been brought up, I'd like to know the same thing about the Big 4 trains.
  by bill8106
This may not be a definitive answer but it may provide some insight. The IC serviced the power for the Big Four's James Whitcomb Riley, which in the early/mid 1950's, was still being pulled by steam. The IC had already eliminated steam and the steam facilities by this time, so they leased E units to the Central to power the Riley. I'm assuming that the IC serviced the Central's diesels once they dieselized the Riley.

I'm not sure how long the power servicing arrangement lasted (the Riley made it thru PC into Amtrak) or if the IC serviced the power for all Big Four and MC trains, nor does it answer the question about who serviced the trains themselves, e.g., turning, cleaning, food/beverage provisioning, etc., but again, it can give some insight.
  by ExCon90
I've been thinking about this some more since I posted, and it seems likely, in the absence of positive knowledge to the contrary, that the IC had to service the locomotives and cars. Without a map of the Chicago rail network handy, it's hard to imagine how the equipment of the Riley (for example) could be moved from Central Station to the NYC passenger yards and engine terminal and back to Central in time for the late-afternoon departure. I'm sure it would have involved the St. Charles Air Line, and it's interesting to speculate which interlockings would govern the move, which railroad controlled each interlocking, and what its individual priorities were vis-a-vis an empty equipment move from the IC to the NYC and back.

Another question, which I posted in the IC forum some years ago but found no answer, was that since trains on the IC leaving Chicago had odd numbers and arriving trains even numbers, and the MC and Big 4 the opposite, did the IC assign its own numbers to those movements between Chicago and Kensington/Kankakee for operating purposes? The South Shore just followed the line of least resistance and assigned odd numbers all the way to South Bend and even numbers for westbound trains.
  by Tommy Meehan
I think another reason why the equipment was probably serviced by IC was the nature of the operating agreement between IC and NYC (Big Four).

The Big Four trains were not operating on IC through track rights. Instead, this was a jointly operated service with crews from both railroads sharing the runs. A former NYC ATM said that when he was there, IC power was used on the Sycamore to Indianapolis while NYC power normally handled the James Whitcomb Riley.

My point is, once the Central trains got onto IC rail at Kankakee, they were IC trains. In fact, the trains would carry passengers holding tickets for IC stations between Kankakee and Chicago. Or there were no restrictions shown in timetables at any rate.
  by Tadman
Most MC and Big Four trains I've seen pictures of had NYC power. The Big Four trains usually had NYC passenger geeps but occasionally IC passenger geeps. The MC trains had NYC steam (not sure about the diesel power).
  by shlustig
MC trains were NYC trains and used NYC power.

Big Four trains were a joint operation with the IC and used IC power and had IC #'s KKI / CHI, requiring an engine change at KKI. To effect dieselization, a power pool was set up and NYC engines ran into CHI and IC power to CIN. "Trains" had photographs of IC E-units at CUT on Big 4 trains.
  by Tadman
To back up what shlustig says, the recent issue of Classic Trains that covered the Twilight Limited shows exclusively NYC power on both steam and diesel trains. The Alan Lind book "Limiteds Along the Lakefront" has two pictures of Big 4 Indianapolis Special, both powered by an IC Geep, and two pictures of the JWR, powered by a trio of NYC Geeps.

I would guess then that Big Four trains had their power serviced at Burnside with the rest of IC power while MC trains may have been serviced at the NYC yards, requiring a ride up and over the SCAL and then back down the NYC lines south of LaSalle station.
  by Tommy Meehan
Just for the record, the Michigan Central trains were moved from IC's Central Station to LaSalle Street in January 1957. The Big Four trains remained at Central Station into the Penn Central era and, I believe, until the advent of Amtrak.
  by Tommy Meehan
Considering just the Michigan Central trains, in the diesel era I don't know how much servicing the diesel units would've required. As Shel noted, the MC operation was a straight forward track rights use. NY Central had rights to operate MC trains into Central Station, from Grand Crossing I think. So maybe the locomotives would just be fueled. Anything else could be done at the eastern terminal.

The passenger equipment is a little different.

Up until the early 1950s the Wolverine went to Central Station and the passenger equipment would've required turning and some extensive servicing. However, the Wolverine was the first MC train to be shifted to LaSalle. That was because of the inconvenience of having an overnight NY-Chicago train arrive/depart at a different station in Chicago than the other NY-Chicago overnight trains. In a press release I read, Central said they sometimes wanted to direct overflow from the eastbound Twentieth Century Limited to the Wolverine. The Wolverine leaving from a station on the other side of town made this very difficult.

The North Shore Limited and New York Special stayed at Central Station (until the 1957 move I think), and they had sleeping cars and diners too. They would've needed servicing, turning, a commissary, etc. If IC did the passenger car and diner servicing they would've charged Central for it. That would be a reason to think maybe NYC might have wanted to do the work themselves. Except then NYC would've needed yard crews to shuffle everything around, also expensive. That's a reason to think maybe the work was done at the IC servicing area. Maybe by NYC employees?

How would NY Central get the trains from Central Station to their servicing facilities? Over the St. Charles Air Line but what would that involve? In the diesel era I think the LaSalle Street trains had the cars serviced at Root Street or 44th Street and the power went to Englewood.
  by Tommy Meehan
Below is a Western Division-Chicago Terminal District map from a 1966 Employee timetable. Note that it shows, 1) LaSalle Street Station, 2) IC's Central Station, 3) Root Street Yard, 4) Englewood and 5) Grand Crossing (MC-IC).
  by shlustig
The MC connection with the IC was at Kensington (along with the South Shore).

10 mph through the puzzle switches (IIRC).
  by Tommy Meehan
Below is a page from a September 1951 Michigan Central West Division employee timetable showing stations, office calls, signals and telephones. Note at Chicago there is a Chicago station (MP 283.48 which is Central Station, identified elsewhere in this ETT as "12th St. station"), a Chicago Yard and a Randolph St. engine house. There are several references to Chicago Yard and Randolph St. engine house in the ETT. The ETT also shows the following at Chicago Yard and the Randolph St. engine house:

1. Standard Clocks
2. Train Registers (Chicago Yard only)
3. Bulletin Boards and Books (photo below)

I'm starting to think that possibly Michigan Central trains were serviced at Illinois Central facilities in Chicago. In 1951 there were thirteen MC passenger trains per weekday arriving or departing Central Station. That would be a lot of back and forth hauling all of them to Root Street and Englewood.
  by Tadman
shlustig wrote:The MC connection with the IC was at Kensington (along with the South Shore).

10 mph through the puzzle switches (IIRC).
This is correct, there are quite a few pictures of MC trains entering the IC main at Kensington. Further, the MC tracks are still there, under thick shrubs and trees. If you know where to look from a South Shore train, you can still spot the cut ends of the rails 50' back from the remaining CSS-CN-Metra diamonds.

Also, there was never a physical connection between IC and NYC at Grand Crossing, at least since the lines were grade separated in the early part of the 20th century.
  by Tommy Meehan
I'm curious about something. What was the reference to the Randolph St. engine house in the NYC ETT? What did that refer to, what was the Randolph St. engine house and where was it located?
Tadman wrote:....I would guess then that Big Four trains had their power serviced at Burnside with the rest of IC power...
Also, I don't believe IC serviced their passenger power at Burnside. I believe Burnside was used for heavy repair. I think passenger power -- possibly including MC and Big Four locomotives -- were serviced at the IC's 27th Street roundhouse. From looking at various sources, the 27th Street roundhouse was opened in the early 1900s and serviced IC passenger and yard power (and prior to electrification, probably suburban power as well). I believe 27th Street continued in use for as long as Central Station was open. On an IC list, a former IC locomotive fireman from the 1960s said, "Once we tied up at Central Station we cut the power away and ran the power out to the roundhouse at 27th Street."

Here is a link to a photo of the roundhouse in the diesel era, taken March 27, 1967. Link

On the IC list it also mentioned that the IC passenger trains were turned at a balloon track located north of the Burnside complex. Didn't say where they were serviced.