• Moving to one terminal per big city - wise?

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by justalurker66
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:17 pm justalurker: I have an idea, terminate the City of New Orleans at Halsted Street :P
Sounds good. With a minor rerouting the Cardinal could use the CN-IC to follow the same route through town and also terminate there.
  by west point
 
It appears that CHI US was built with a lot more space for LD passengers possible than is now occrring. The big push of course is METRA especially the BNSF division. That cannot change.So how would this poster go about making US work better ? Note this is pie in the sky as the money needed would be staggering.

1. Build an extension east of the present tracks but raise them above present tracks and the canal. Have no idea what the present free board of the canal is. That way future electrification would be possible for even plate "H". Stairs from the main halll would go to a mezzinie that would have access up to the tracks.
2. Run elevaated track south over the river, orangeline, all other impediments with HSR tracks to points well out of town. Do the same for SW departing track to join whatever some distance away from all impediments.
3. demolish the buildig over the present tracks and install more platforms and tracks.
4. Extend elevated tracks north to avoid Clinton st CP and connect further out to all ppossible routes.
5. Each route to / from US will only need to transfer from Amtrak to a single freight RR as Amtrak will own all the station trackage of this dreaming proposal.

Like I said pie in the sky but this would last 200 years. .
  by justalurker66
 
A lot of the air space over the rails is built over, especially north of CUS. South of CUS one has the yard to deal with. Even if one could build a second level above the current tracks it would be difficult getting trains to that level. There is space below the current tracks, so perhaps a tunnel would work? :)

BTW: There are plans that would add through tracks to the east side of CUS. There is also a plan to realign the platforms at CUS to provide more room for passengers on each platform (the obsolete package platforms between tracks would be reduced or removed). Plenty of good ideas that have a chance of being built and improving service.
  by RRspatch
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am Tad, you’ve brought up two points I want to address: using stations at the “natural end” (my term) of a train’s route, and lack of connecting traffic at least through Chicago.

I’m not familiar with the routes of the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle to know how they get to CUS from the southwest, presumably along the Heritage Corridor which best empties into Union Station. Otherwise every other train aside from the Illini/Saluki, City of New Orleans, and Cardinal has a set route that leads directly to Union Station’s doorstep. Even if moved to LaSalle, the Cap, LSL, and Michigan trains won’t improve their timekeeping so long as Norfolk Southern Railway isn’t invested in being a good host. The trains coming via BNSF and CP tend to be better, and also don’t really have better station options. That leaves the trains from southern Illinois (and the Card) as I mentioned.

First, can they even run into Millennium anymore? You haven’t addressed that they would need to run under wire, unless there is still unwired track in place (which doesn’t seem to be the case, from satellite views.) Assuming it isn’t Plate H certified, the process of de-energizing the wire each time Amtrak arrives with a Superliner train seems like a deal-breaker for Metra. Are there diesel platforms at McCormick if the trains can’t readily go further north on electric track? And what’s the relative cost of building out a station on the CN/IC Lakeshore Line versus building Grand Crossing/Nickel Plate connector?

Second, by saying “people don’t connect between trains, therefore let’s take away the possibility of connection” you’re going against every transportation precept. The name of the game shouldn’t be giving up the possibility, but making the connection stronger through route improvements. For the CN trains that could mean running with an NPCU on the far end as a baggage car - the backing move into CUS then becomes that much easier.
In regards to running into Millennium station I really don't think the catenary would be a problem for two reasons.

1) METRA and the South Shore all ready operate bi-level equipment into this station. I'm too lazy right now to go looking for the difference in height level between a METRA/South Shore car and a Superliner but I assume it isn't that great.

2) We're talking about low voltage DC catenary here. This isn't the 12.5Kv AC stuff in Washington that 29 and 30 operate under. Heck, it isn't even the 25Kv AC catenary that 5 and 6 operate under into Denver Union Station. The safety margin for DC catenary is a LOT less than AC catenary.

Regardless I favor keeping Amtrak at one station in Chicago.

Now some people here have suggested spending billions to fix the Chicago Union station "problem". To do this I'll throw in my two railfan fantasies for fixing the Amtrak/METRA problem.

1) Build a tunnel (RER/S Bahn/CrossRail) connecting the BNSF line with the Milwaukee North line. It would start around Roosevelt Road and swing slightly to the west with a station under the CTA Clinton station. From there it would head north with a stop under the Ogilvie station before surfacing somewhere north of Chicago Avenue. Trains from the BNSF side would be through routed to the Milwaukee side. The biggest problem would be diesel powered trains. Since the freight railroads would object to catenary over their lines high pressure fans would have to be installed to keep fumes out of the stations and tunnels. The tunnels would be constructed with enough head-room for 25Kv catenary in the future. This of course isn't a problem on RER/S Bahn or CrossRail as they're way ahead of us on electrification. The cost? Billions.

2) Raise the east concourse at Union Station and connect the two sides. This would allow the same through routing mentioned above. Two platforms/four tracks would be dedicated to METRA with an intermediate signal in the middle to allow two trains to platform at once. The biggest problem here is support pillars for the building above Union Station are probably in the way some or possibly all through tracks. The ramp from the west building to the newly raised east concourse might run into a problem with Canal Street as the concourse would have to be high enough to clear future catenary. The cost? Less than the tunnel but still a LOT.

/end railfan fantasy.

Now of course I expect neither of these options to happen any time soon. In the mean time build the Grand Crossing Connection as well as an Amtrak route west from Porter.
  by eolesen
 
It would be possible to put some CUS service into Olgilvie -- North Central Service is relatively low frequency, and even Amtrak's Hiawatha could probably be accommodated. If you wanted to spend a couple billion, you could also expand Olgilvie to the west, which would require taking out a half-block on Canal Street and tearing down the iconic CNW Powerhouse (which I believe has landmark status), but you could add another 6 tracks, which would be enough to accommodate the MILW.

But the North side of CUS really isn't the problem. It's the approaches on the south end first and platforms second.
Grand Crossing needs to happen to fix the approaches from the south. There's really no other way around it.

More importantly, the former CUS mail tracks need to be converted over to passenger use, a plan that has been around for decades. That would add capacity for both Metra and Amtrak. And it's not expensive aside from rehabbing the platforms and making sure the existing concourses can be connected to those additional tracks.

If construction for the mail tracks requires closing down adjacent tracks, move SWS over to LaSalle. It seems to have the space. Might even offer an opportunity to balance out the SWS and RI services since they have overlapping catchment areas that today probably splits up based on where the trains terminate.

Someone mentioned re-establishing the tracks under the Merchandise Mart... That's the former Navy Pier line for the CNW, and the track is still active as far as the river crossing and Sun Times buiding immediately across the river. The bridge gets lowered twice a year and a hi-rail does an inspection to keep it all legal. Beyond that, the track is largely paved over in places. Solvable, but only part of the problem.

Getting to the Navy Pier line is another story. It's currently a one-track approach thru the former Chicago Tribune printing plant, and it's only really accessible to the CNW/UP Northwest and North lines.

There used to be freight yards between the MILW and CNW approaches from the west, and that also connected to the Navy Pier line, but all of that is now built over, and the current landowners (mostly upscale condo developments) would rightfully flip out if their streets were suddenly overtaken by commuter trains. I wouldn't bother exploring Merchandise Mart and the Navy Pier line any further.
  by David Benton
 
Is there any reason why the st Charles airline tracks cant curve north into CUS ? Seems they would have to go into the Metra yards side to do it , but seems quite doable to me. Maybe cheaper than the 75th crossing project?
  by mtuandrew
 
David Benton wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:28 am Is there any reason why the st Charles airline tracks cant curve north into CUS ? Seems they would have to go into the Metra yards side to do it , but seems quite doable to me. Maybe cheaper than the 75th crossing project?
I’ve wondered that myself, but two things:
-it would be a mighty tight curve with possibility for derailments, and six-axle cars & power might be proscribed
-the SCAL crosses the Rock Island Division at grade, and you’ll be fighting a lot of cross-traffic.

It’s still worth investigating and possibly realigning the entire SCAL to point at Union Station (or even digging a new tunnel to replace the current line northwest of McCormick.)

—————

RRspatch: why are you digging another tunnel between MD-N/W and BNSF? Do you think the current riverside connection between Union Station North and South doesn’t have enough throughput? I’d be in favor of tearing out most all of the platform level public spaces in order to make most of the tracks go through - it would increase capacity far above current. And yes, you could build in overhead wire clearance. Plate F is probably high enough, I recall that Superliners and gallery cars are somewhere around that plate diagram.
  by STrRedWolf
 
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:30 pm
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:17 pm justalurker: I have an idea, terminate the City of New Orleans at Halsted Street :P
Sounds good. With a minor rerouting the Cardinal could use the CN-IC to follow the same route through town and also terminate there.
Soooooo close, but so far away. Zero CTA stations.

Western Avenue? Oh, 6 blocks away.

Put a station on the Heritage Cooridor at Halsted Orange CTA instead?
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:51 pm
Tadman wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:01 am 1. Send trains into the terminals at the end of their routes
CUS *is* the end of the route for all Amtrak trains entering Chicago, whether or not the train is routed over one railroad or many to reach the station.
No it's not. It's an artificial endpoint created in 1971.
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:51 pm Tell us how a CN-IC train would reach Van Buren or Randolph. New crossovers so they can run under wire into the most congested part of the MED?
For a mile? There's space for another track as well if that's really your hangup.
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:51 pm Draw up a service plan. List where you want the terminal stations. Then tell us where three hours away from your chosen terminal station along which chosen route will take the train.
I think you're speaking in broken English now, but this is easy.
IC corridor trains go back to the lakefront - Van Buren, Roosevelt, or Randolph. Two new switches.
Detroit trains can use LaSalle, which avoids the 55th street yards. No new infrastructure.
Quad Cities new start use the Rock all the way to LaSalle, avoiding handoff to CN and 21st street. No new infrastructure.
Rockford new start is ambiguous about routing, but run it on one host all the way downtown. No new infrastructure.
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:51 pm Include in your service plan where the trains will be inspected and serviced. Understand that this is more than passing through with Lysol and Windex, emptying trash and toilets and filling box lunches (if offered) and water. Full mechanical inspection with a pit. Fueling the engines. Or are you planning on doing complicated moves to get the equipment to CUS after kicking off the passengers?
Perhaps you didnt' read my post earlier but we're going to do this the exact same way the Downeaster does it. If it works there, it works here.
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:51 pm BTW: Thank you for not describing the Cardinal route through Chicago as "north on UP, west on BRC, east on Metra SWS, west on NS, north on Amtrak" when that path is nearly a straight line. But since that routes over several class 1s please let is know where the terminal at the end of the Cardinal route is.
It may be in a straight line but there are multiple handoffs. If you've been on this train much, which I have, you know it crawls and we had an engineer testify to that on this very forum. His name was Espeemike and he posited that occasionally the train was rerouted to IC at Harvey and then downtown, and that it was significantly easier every time that happened. Given that IC is much quieter north of Markham after the EJ&E buyout, I'd suggest they run downtown over IC and terminate there.
  by Tadman
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:57 am
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:30 pm
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:17 pm justalurker: I have an idea, terminate the City of New Orleans at Halsted Street :P
Sounds good. With a minor rerouting the Cardinal could use the CN-IC to follow the same route through town and also terminate there.
Soooooo close, but so far away. Zero CTA stations.

Western Avenue? Oh, 6 blocks away.

Put a station on the Heritage Cooridor at Halsted Orange CTA instead?
Keep in mind that the point of this thread is to solve a serious problem that occurs in a space from 10 miles out to downtown. This problem will never be solved otherwise. We can address station crowding, connections, mass transit, et al... but none will fix the main problem unless the trains go back to their natural stations.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:23 am
David Benton wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:28 am Is there any reason why the st Charles airline tracks cant curve north into CUS ?
I’ve wondered that myself, but two things:
-it would be a mighty tight curve with possibility for derailments, and six-axle cars & power might be proscribed
-the SCAL crosses the Rock Island Division at grade, and you’ll be fighting a lot of cross-traffic.

It’s still worth investigating and possibly realigning the entire SCAL to point at Union Station (or even digging a new tunnel to replace the current line northwest of McCormick.)
That bridge is already in a tight spot. In order to do that, youd have to demolish the current SCAL and B&OCT bridges, build a new one, make it movable (navigable waters), and make it curve correctly to make that turn, plus find a landing spot in the yards, plus UP and CN still use the bridge for west-to-south freights.

New bridges or tunnels are billion dollar projects. Sending trains into natural stations is nowhere near that.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am Tad, you’ve brought up two points I want to address: using stations at the “natural end” (my term) of a train’s route, and lack of connecting traffic at least through Chicago.

I’m not familiar with the routes of the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle to know how they get to CUS from the southwest, presumably along the Heritage Corridor which best empties into Union Station.
Correct, GM&O all the way downtown to GM&O's historic terminus at CUS.
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am Otherwise every other train aside from the Illini/Saluki, City of New Orleans, and Cardinal has a set route that leads directly to Union Station’s doorstep.
The Cardinal is questionable, and the Detroit trains historically used Central or LaSalle depending on the year. The post was inspired by the new-start plans to Rockford and Quad Cities, though. I remember seeing maps of Rockford service going over 2-3 hosts which is lunacy. Folks in Rockford just won't put up with that. They see it like this: " I can pay $12 and drive to Metra at McHenry or Geneva and get on a reliable train or $40 and get on Amtrak's science experiment." Same with Quad Cities. A handoff at Joliet where CN and UP already have their own in-line handoff, plus junction with BNSF, Metra, IAIS, and CSX? What a recipe for disaster. Just run it straight through on the Rock. No need for new infrastructure.

mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am Even if moved to LaSalle, the Cap, LSL, and Michigan trains won’t improve their timekeeping so long as Norfolk Southern Railway isn’t invested in being a good host.
So my comments only apply to corridor trains, but the MC trains historicaly went to LaSalle or Central. Since the MC connection to Central is no longer here, LaSalle works just fine and avoids the 55th street yard zone of NS, which is a mess.
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am First, can they even run into Millennium anymore? You haven’t addressed that they would need to run under wire,...And what’s the relative cost of building out a station on the CN/IC Lakeshore Line versus building Grand Crossing/Nickel Plate connector?

Metra and South Shore run bilevels now, and Amtrak has detoured the Cap under wires. There have also been a few fan trips with domes. There is currently one unwired track and room for more at Randolph, but perhaps a short-turn at Roosevelt where Central once was, then back into 18th street where Metra can dump the toilets?
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:15 am
Second, by saying “people don’t connect between trains, therefore let’s take away the possibility of connection” you’re going against every transportation precept. The name of the game shouldn’t be giving up the possibility, but making the connection stronger through route improvements. For the CN trains that could mean running with an NPCU on the far end as a baggage car - the backing move into CUS then becomes that much easier.
From what I understand, backing movements require more than that. Currently a conductor rides the back of the shove, but a NPCU would require changing ends and a time-costly brake test. The way I look at it, if most major cities in the world feel connections are good to different stations, why is Chicago different?
  by Arborwayfan
 
How much of Amtrak's original decision to consolidate all remaining Chicago trains at CUS was to save on agent salaries? Ticket agents that were necessary in the 1970s and 1980s but they are now almost replaced by a ticket machine, some smartphones, and the combination of a telephone call and the conductor's handheld device.

Tad, would you eliminate checked baggage on the CONO?
  by STrRedWolf
 
Tadman wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:15 am Keep in mind that the point of this thread is to solve a serious problem that occurs in a space from 10 miles out to downtown. This problem will never be solved otherwise. We can address station crowding, connections, mass transit, et al... but none will fix the main problem unless the trains go back to their natural stations.
You may see it as THE MAIN PROBLEM, but I see it as PART of the MAIN PROBLEM. Moving back to separate terminals is all fine and dandy, but people need to get to those terminals, or else they get into their cars... and you end up wasting money on a failed solution that makes train travel much worse.

Which is what we're telling you. You must look at the bigger picture.

Out of your plans, ask yourself these:
  • Do the natural stations still exist and can fully service/restock the trains?
  • Can the trains get to those stations with minimal handoffs?
  • Can people actually get to those stations easily without a car or bus?
  • Can people get from one station to another easily without a car or bus?
You're aiming to spend a lot of money, but the less you spend and the more "bang for your buck" you get, the better it is for the long haul -- but don't cut it all the way down to "oh, just run everything into CUS, it'll be fine" ($0 of course).
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