Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by doepack
 
Continuing the discussion from the "Terminal capacity" thread, didn't want that one to drift too much...

  by doepack
 
MetraBNSF wrote:Splitting off 1251 would most likely require a brand new set and crew so its unlikely to happen, at least anytime soon. Splitting off 1243 can realistically be done, as in the case this Friday and on other special occasions. The last time I rode 1243 was at a time there was a 3:50pm Naperville/59 express scheduled and in spite of delays, both trains were at or near capacity.

Since SWS trains are pooled in with BNSF, I wonder if BNSF has ever considered borrowing a SWS set on days when there is extra early afternoon service. I know there is one SWS set that's at 14th St. until at least 6:00pm or so.
And that set could conceivably be used to split 1251; a mock schedule could be that it departs CUS between about 4:30 or so, run express to Naperville/Rte 59, then head back downtown and turn to SW 831. 831's schedule may have to be moved back 5-10 minutes to compensate for the deadhead time. Among the issues with this is that 831's equipment is 7 cars (I think; Kyle, correct me if that's wrong), and if so, this set may need at least another 2-3 cars added to it to guard against overcrowding. I don't know where the extra cars would come from, one possibility is to take a car off of 1251's current set. Or they might have to repurchase those old Burlington cars that's currently sitting in Wisconsin somewhere, since buying new equipment isn't an option right now. Crew considerations will also need to be addressed; this situation may have to involve a pool of engineers that are qualified on both districts, so that's another thing to think about.

  by metraRI
 
Of course the only negative that comes with using a SWS set is what if Metra wants to add a 3:30ish departure on SWS... A 3:35-CUS, 4:58-179th Street run could easily be added with the spare equipment. Adding another Naperville express after 4:00 would be tough without schedule changes, as 1277, I believe, is the last set to come out of 14th Street.. so equipment would have to be back by 5:44.

  by doepack
 
Another possibility for splitting 1251 is to use the equipment currently assigned to 1253, which is practically a local to Aurora (skips 5 stops). 1253 leaves at 4:48, arrives Aurora at 6:08; my notes indicate that it's turned from 1268, and turns to 1292. In theory, 1253's departure time could be moved up about 8 min. to 4:40, 4 min. ahead of 1251, and turn it into a Naperville/Rte 59/Aurora express. At the same time, the schedules of adjacent trains 1249 & 1255, both of which terminate in DG, would likely need to be adjusted, by either adding stops, or making minor adjustments to the CUS departure time, or perhaps a combination of the two. The revised schedule then, would look something like this:

1249: [email protected], exp to Berwyn, then every other stop to Fairview

1251: [email protected], exp to Naperville/Rte 59/Aurora

1253: Dep @446, DG exp (same stops as current 1251)

1255: [email protected], local to Berwyn, then every other stop to Fairview, making the stops 1249 skipped.


Positives: This can be done with existing equipment, wouldn't be necessary to borrow a SW set, crew assignments shouldn't be affected, no effect on current equipment cycles, plus no addtional deadhead mileage required.

Drawbacks: The current equipment for this is a six-car set, I think. If so, this proposal would require at least 3; perhaps even up to 5 extra cars to handle the crowds. Unless the cars were cut off at 14th st. earlier in the day, I have no idea where they'd come from...

  by metraRI
 
If changes are made to the current 1253, another set would have to be used for 1292 which 1253 turns to. Also if 1255 adds stops, it would have to fit so 1261 would not be delayed.. not to mention adding stops to a LaGrange express probably wouldn't make 1255 passengers very happy.

Better yet... Something like this could work:
Times might have to be adjusted to deadhead to fit with 1274/1276.

NEW 1243
3:54 3:58 (CUS)
----- 4:23 (Main)
----- 4:27 (Belmont)
----- 4:32 (Lisle)
4:26 ----- (Naperville)
4:34 ----- (Rt. 59)
4:45 ----- (Aurora)
NEW = 7/8 Cars, reduced from 11 (Current 1243 Set)
1243 = 7 Cars

NEW turns to 1288, cut at Aurora no longer needed.
1243 turns to DH.

1288 DH
5:20 ----- (Aurora)
5:38 4:40 (Lisle)
6:42 5:10 (CUS)

1288 turns to 1289
DH turns to 1271


Tried to figure out something similar for a 4:40 NVP express.. but no way to get equipment back downtown for 5:44 train. However 1247 and 1251 could be expanded to 11 cars with extra from 1243.

  by MetraBNSF
 
I do like how the new Naperville express is scheduled. One problem with the current 1243 aside from it being at capacity is should it run late for any reason, the subsequent turn to 1288 gets delayed, or worse, cancelled. From what I see, 1288 already runs late in route as it is. From 1243's 4:56pm Aurora arrival time, to cutting the rear 5 cars, a crew change, and prepping the front 6 cars to run the rest of the evening must be really time consuming.

The 7 car set used for 1271 does sit at 14th St. until after 1261's departure, so I can see that set being used for 1243 with the pattern followed above as indicated by metraRI. And the current 1243 would become the new Naperville train, minus 3-4 cars.

I think the people at Metra should seriously read this board when they think about possible schedule modifications for any of the lines. They do onboard passenger surveys from time to time, but great information gets posted here. And having higher-ups actually ride the trains. Aside from BNSF officials that occasionally ride that line's trains, I've heard in the past that a Metra spokesperson lives in the west suburbs and uses the BNSF.

I'm drumming up some ideas on how to improve the UP-W based on current conditions. Metra has said it themselves, improving the UP-W will benefit that line and BNSF. :wink:

  by doepack
 
metraRI wrote:If changes are made to the current 1253, another set would have to be used for 1292 which 1253 turns to. Also if 1255 adds stops, it would have to fit so 1261 would not be delayed.. not to mention adding stops to a LaGrange express probably wouldn't make 1255 passengers very happy
Ok, then how about this: Follow the plan as outlined in my previous post, plus the following changes:

A) 1253: Would only stop at DG Main, Belmont, and Lisle, then run straight to Aurora, where it would turn to 1292. Which would be sensible, because the Naperville/Rte 59 passengers would take the revised 1251 anyway. Make this a 7 or 8 car set, no cut at Aurora.

B) Move the departure times of 1247 & 1249 up by 3-5 minutes; for instance, 1247 leaves at 4:25, 1249 leaves 5 minutes later, and keep the same stops. Move 1255's departure to 4:56, and retain the exp to LaGrange portion, plus its normal stops as well. That should provide enough of a cushion for the local trains between LaGrange and DG, and still shouldn't affect 1261. However, the deadhead scheduling of 1282 & 1284 (plus the departures of trains they flip to downtown, 1283 & 1373) may require minor adjustments to make it fit.
metraRI wrote: Better yet... Something like this could work:
Times might have to be adjusted to deadhead to fit with 1274/1276.

NEW 1243
3:54 3:58 (CUS)
----- 4:23 (Main)
----- 4:27 (Belmont)
----- 4:32 (Lisle)
4:26 ----- (Naperville)
4:34 ----- (Rt. 59)
4:45 ----- (Aurora)
NEW = 7/8 Cars, reduced from 11 (Current 1243 Set)
1243 = 7 Cars

NEW turns to 1288, cut at Aurora no longer needed.
1243 turns to DH.

1288 DH
5:20 ----- (Aurora)
5:38 4:40 (Lisle)
6:42 5:10 (CUS)

1288 turns to 1289
DH turns to 1271
That's doable, but I'm kinda leery about adding another deadhead opposite of peak direction here. It would only take a late running Amtrak 4 or 6 coming in from the west coast, or a hotshot freight that BNSF is trying to squeeze in at this time of day to cause delays on the commuter side in both directions, especially when dispatchers in Fort Worth borrow the middle track temporarily between Lisle and LaGrange to get these eastbounds through. It doesn't happen often, but we all know this isn't unprecedented.

Even so, the only real question I have is... Would the cost savings in time and labor by not having to make a cut in Aurora justify the extra deadhead mileage? It's hard to say...

  by doepack
 
MetraBNSF wrote:I do like how the new Naperville express is scheduled. One problem with the current 1243 aside from it being at capacity is should it run late for any reason, the subsequent turn to 1288 gets delayed, or worse, cancelled. From what I see, 1288 already runs late in route as it is. From 1243's 4:56pm Aurora arrival time, to cutting the rear 5 cars, a crew change, and prepping the front 6 cars to run the rest of the evening must be really time consuming
I would say so. But with a 10 minute cushion built into its schedule on the east end, I'd wager it's OTP is still pretty decent. And if the equipment for the new Naperville express is used for 1288 without a cut, then it'll have a better chance at keeping its schedule.
MetraBNSF wrote:I think the people at Metra should seriously read this board when they think about possible schedule modifications for any of the lines. They do onboard passenger surveys from time to time, but great information gets posted here. And having higher-ups actually ride the trains. Aside from BNSF officials that occasionally ride that line's trains, I've heard in the past that a Metra spokesperson lives in the west suburbs and uses the BNSF
I doubt if any of them actually read this board, or would be inclined to, but I agree, it wouldn't hurt. I think they'd be surprised at the information here, and using this info combined with the surveys would increase the odds of the changes being for the better.
MetraBNSF wrote:I'm drumming up some ideas on how to improve the UP-W based on current conditions. Metra has said it themselves, improving the UP-W will benefit that line and BNSF. :wink:
Before any changes can take place on UP/W, improving the OTP of the current service on UP/W should be top priority; delays due to freight train interference are still too common. Case in point: Twice this week, a dispatcher in Omaha lined up a freight just ahead of 52, which is supposed to get downtown at 3:47. As a result, 52 was already 5 minutes down when it arrived Wheaton, and 15 minutes down by the time it got to OTC because it had to run at restricted speed with the freight ahead of it in the next block all the way to Elmhurst, when the freight went into Proviso. Granted, 52 isn't always affected, but it happens to enough trains (particularly inbounds) often enough to the point where the OTP is still suffering, and remains among the lowest on Metra's system. Let's get that fixed first before we start talking about upgrades...

  by metraRI
 
MetraBNSF wrote:I think the people at Metra should seriously read this board when they think about possible schedule modifications for any of the lines.
Haha, I wish they would.. I would be posting proposed changes all the time. I don't know how many RI schedules I have made over the years to fix the current issues.
doepack wrote:That's doable, but I'm kinda leery about adding another deadhead opposite of peak direction here. It would only take a late running Amtrak 4 or 6 coming in from the west coast, or a hotshot freight that BNSF is trying to squeeze in at this time of day to cause delays on the commuter side in both directions...
Well of course there will always be the "what if" scenario, but this happens now. I have seen deadheads go center track between the gaps to get around freights before. The only issue with what I have is that 1274 doesn't get downtown until 5:23.. with 1271 departing at 5:32, the deadhead would have to get around that train, but best bet is 1274 arrives early anyway... 13 minutes is not needed from Halsted to CUS.

  by doepack
 
metraRI wrote:
MetraBNSF wrote:I think the people at Metra should seriously read this board when they think about possible schedule modifications for any of the lines.
Haha, I wish they would.. I would be posting proposed changes all the time. I don't know how many RI schedules I have made over the years to fix the current issues.
doepack wrote:That's doable, but I'm kinda leery about adding another deadhead opposite of peak direction here. It would only take a late running Amtrak 4 or 6 coming in from the west coast, or a hotshot freight that BNSF is trying to squeeze in at this time of day to cause delays on the commuter side in both directions...
Well of course there will always be the "what if" scenario, but this happens now. I have seen deadheads go center track between the gaps to get around freights before. The only issue with what I have is that 1274 doesn't get downtown until 5:23.. with 1271 departing at 5:32, the deadhead would have to get around that train, but best bet is 1274 arrives early anyway... 13 minutes is not needed from Halsted to CUS.
True, delays can and will happen, and depending on the magnitude, it can bring even the most fine-tuned operation to a standstill. I'm just saying that if there's a chance service can be expanded without creating more deadhead traffic, those ideas should be explored first. It would be even better if you could convert two or three of those deadheads into revenue locals east of DG, then the late afternoon trains that originate in Aurora could run express DG-CUS. Right now, only 1280 provides this service, and there's no way under the current configuration to upgrade 1288 & 1292's schedule in a like manner, but should the money ever become available to extend the fourth track west from Cicero to say, Hinsdale, it could be worth a look...

  by doepack
 
Something else I've been wondering about: How practical would it be to store 2 or 3 sets in DG? They could be used to start up morning inbound trains 1206, 1218, and 1226 for the AM rush directly from there without the three eastbound deadhead moves currently required from Hill yard. On the PM side, I'm thinking that perhaps 1281 could be reconfigured into a local to DG, but I'm not sure where the other set or two would come from, deadheads from Aurora after the PM rush could be needed. Of course, this assumes that BNSF would be amenable to the idea in the first place, which is possible, but not certain...
  by MetraBNSF
 
Something I didn't expect but my guess is its only a one time thing. BNSF trains #1243 and #1251 swapped sets for this evening's (1/9/09) rush. #1243 ran with 10 cars, #1251 ran with 11 cars. The 10 car set also has METX8478 in the consist, has been there for at least a few weeks. I have video of #1251 running with 11 cars.
  by metraRI
 
Its interesting that you mention about BNSF swapping sets, yesterday SWS train's 815 and 819 swapped sets, causing the 4:30p train to run with 8 cars and the 5:18p train to run 9 cars double headed. Today all was back to normal.
  by MetraBNSF
 
I was thinking about how BNSF train 1251 had 11 cars about a month ago since that train boards from track 12 at CUS. I guess track 12 is capable of holding a train of that length.
  by doepack
 
MetraBNSF wrote:I was thinking about how BNSF train 1251 had 11 cars about a month ago since that train boards from track 12 at CUS. I guess track 12 is capable of holding a train of that length.
Do the 11-car Naperville expresses still load from track 2 during the evening rush? If so, then I wonder if it would be a better idea to move those runs to track 12. I think It would greatly improve passenger flow through the concourse at that time of day, so folks getting off inbounds won't have to fight through the mob of people heading home. It gets pretty crazy down there with everyone scattering about in all different directions...