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the urban politician Jun 16, 2008 1:15 AM

I have some questions about Chicago area passenger rail, mostly out of curiosity:

1) Including Metra, S.Shore and CTA, which is the farthest town from Chicago that is served, and how far away is it from downtown?

2) What part of the rail network (all 3 of them) is the fastest, and how fast do trains run on that part of the network? Is there any part of the Metra network in which trains exceed 100 mph?

3) What part of the rail network (again, all 3 of them) is the slowest at this point?

OhioGuy Jun 16, 2008 1:26 AM

I don't know the answer to #2 & #3, but I'm fairly confident South Bend is the furthest town from Chicago that is served by the rail systems you mentioned (it being served by the South Shore train). It's a little over 90 miles from the South Bend Airport to Millenium Station.

Mr Downtown Jun 16, 2008 2:40 AM

South Shore's run to Michiana Regional Airport is the longest "transit" service out of Chicago. Second is Metra/UP service to Harvard, 63 miles.

Metra BNSF's Naperville express runs cover 28 miles in 32 minutes, for a schedule speed of 53 mph. I don't think anything else would come close.

In the old days, there were rumors that the 2200s temporarily in Evanston Express service would exceed 60 mph on the fill north of Wilson, but that was long ago and far away.

Hardly anything in the US ever exceeds 79 mph, which is FRA's limit for trains with trackside signaling. I doubt that any place on Metra's system ever breaks 60, though there's a long stretch of MILW-N south of Lake Forest West where they might come close. I say that because I'm pretty sure that Amtrak trains exceed 60 mph on that same stretch.

Slowest would be CTA's slow zones of the week.

Nowhereman1280 Jun 16, 2008 3:41 AM

^^^ Pretty much right, but if you include the Hiawatha, that is the longest and fastest, and it truly is commuter rail since at least one full car (out of 3 or 4) on that train is completely commuters at any one time. I know that hits 70+ in areas and its ~85 miles. It is scheduled to be upgraded to 115 MPH once the few (10 or so) remaining at grade crossings are separated and some track repairs are completed... I believe some areas where it is grade separated are supposed to hit 115 once track repairs are implemented. It has the best hope of achieving super speeds out of any part of the Chicago transit network...

VivaLFuego Jun 16, 2008 4:35 AM

^Metra operates up to 70mph on most of its lines, I believe... exception being the Metra Electric which is limited to 55mph. Of course there are only certain portions of track that are actually operated at 70mph, not nearly the entire system.

the urban politician Jun 16, 2008 4:59 AM

Thanks for the info, guys. Always appreciated.

On another note, in regards to the CTA Airport Express Station mothballing fiasco, Crains was heavily critical with the city on this one (see this week's edition--Opinion section). Frankly, though, I think they were too critical. Surely Crains editors aren't so clueless about transit that they didn't realize a golden opportunity to build the underground space & tunnel for the future station now rather than later, when it would be next to impossible.

Of course, being the car-driving suburbanites that they are, I'm not surprised. Perhaps Crains should go back to reporting & commenting on what they are supposed to report & comment on: financial & business news.

emathias Jun 16, 2008 9:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3615942)
Thanks for the info, guys. Always appreciated.

On another note, in regards to the CTA Airport Express Station mothballing fiasco, Crains was heavily critical with the city on this one (see this week's edition--Opinion section). Frankly, though, I think they were too critical. Surely Crains editors aren't so clueless about transit that they didn't realize a golden opportunity to build the underground space & tunnel for the future station now rather than later, when it would be next to impossible.

Of course, being the car-driving suburbanites that they are, I'm not surprised. Perhaps Crains should go back to reporting & commenting on what they are supposed to report & comment on: financial & business news.

Crains is more balanced on transit than a lot of people on this forum give them credit for. What they're mainly attacking the project for is the poor cost management, and the project should be attacked for that. Until this month's president's report to the Board, there had been almost zero public info about the project - hardly good practice for a public agency. They also proceeded with only a slim idea of what they'd do once they had the station finished. it was pretty poorly planned and oversold. If they'd just said, "We're going to carve out connector tunnels because they'll be useful someday," I don't think they'd be getting as much flak.

aaron38 Jun 16, 2008 5:08 PM

I just heard a news blurb on the radio that the Chicago water taxi has added a stop in Chinatown.

That sounds really cool. I think I'll take that next time I go downtown for a walk.

dagobert Jun 17, 2008 3:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3615695)
South Shore's run to Michiana Regional Airport is the longest "transit" service out of Chicago. Second is Metra/UP service to Harvard, 63 miles.

Metra BNSF's Naperville express runs cover 28 miles in 32 minutes, for a schedule speed of 53 mph. I don't think anything else would come close.

In the old days, there were rumors that the 2200s temporarily in Evanston Express service would exceed 60 mph on the fill north of Wilson, but that was long ago and far away.

Hardly anything in the US ever exceeds 79 mph, which is FRA's limit for trains with trackside signaling. I doubt that any place on Metra's system ever breaks 60, though there's a long stretch of MILW-N south of Lake Forest West where they might come close. I say that because I'm pretty sure that Amtrak trains exceed 60 mph on that same stretch.

Slowest would be CTA's slow zones of the week.

I remeber reading not too long ago, that once CTA finishes repairs on the Blue Line from DT to ORD, the maximum speed will be lifted from current 55 mph to either 60 or 65 mph, and when the new trains arrvie in 2009 (or 2010 I'm not sure) the top speed will be 70 mph. This is supposed to cut the travel time b/t the Loop & ORD to approx. 45 mins from current 1h.
I also wonder how fast the proposed Airport Express train will run, if it is ever build. Will it exceed 100 mph or even 125mph? Does anyone know.

Mr Downtown Jun 17, 2008 4:21 AM

I find it hard to imagine that Airport Express would run faster than 70 mph, and probably much closer to 55. Chicago's rapid transit equipment is essentially high-platform streetcars. They would bounce uncomfortably at high speeds, and it's hard to imagine FRA approving higher speeds for such lightweight equipment with so little buff strength. (Actually, it's doubtful that FRA would have jurisdiction over a new Airport Express, but the safety question would still arise).

To follow up on my earlier post, I am told that Metra's Southwest Service does run close to 70 mph between Willow Springs and Lemont. The timetable shows it covering the 7 miles between stations in 9 minutes.

dagobert Jun 17, 2008 4:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3617973)
I find it hard to imagine that Airport Express would run faster than 70 mph, and probably much closer to 55. Chicago's rapid transit equipment is essentially high-platform streetcars. They would bounce uncomfortably at high speeds, and it's hard to imagine FRA approving higher speeds for such lightweight equipment with so little buff strength. (Actually, it's doubtful that FRA would have jurisdiction over a new Airport Express, but the safety question would still arise).

To follow up on my earlier post, I am told that Metra's Southwest Service does run close to 70 mph between Willow Springs and Lemont. The timetable shows it covering the 7 miles between stations in 9 minutes.

This is from Feb. 11, 2008 Chicago Tribune article:

Work to eliminate remaining slow zones is scheduled on the Blue, Red, Purple, Brown and Green Lines this year. The longest stretches are from Addison to O'Hare International Airport on the Blue Line, and from Harrison to North/Clybourn on the Red Line. All work is scheduled for completion by late this year or early 2009, officials said. The improved rail lines could eventually improve efficiency and result in extra runs on some lines to help ease overcrowded conditions in the trains, said William Mooney, the CTA's chief operating officer. About 54 miles of slow zones on the CTA system were removed in 2007, allowing trains to once again travel at up to 55 miles per hour on tracks where speeds formerly had been restricted to as slow as 6 m.p.h. Despite that, slow zones increased overall -- by 63 miles -- because of stepped-up track inspections.

About 17 percent of CTA tracks are under slow-zone orders. Huberman's goal is to cut that to a single-digit percentage -- less than 20 miles of slow zones in the 224-mile system -- by late this year, he said. Top train speeds on the rehabbed track are tentatively scheduled to increase to 65 m.p.h. from the current 55 m.p.h. by the end of 2008, then increase to 70 m.p.h. when the first of some 400 new rail cars begin service in 2010, officials said.

----->>> Link to a webpage on the new rail cars
http://www.chicago-l.org/trains/roster/5000mkII.html

The improvements would cut the current travel time from the Loop to O'Hare on the Blue Line from 55 minutes or longer today to less than 40 minutes, Huberman said.


My question would then be, if in 2010 when slowzones are eliminated on the Blue Line to ORD and new 5000 series rail cars are in use that can reach 70 mph, how is the Airport Express supposed to decrease the travel time if trains won't be able to go faster than 70 mph anyway. Seem like a waste of money then to develp the Airport Express.

Mr Downtown Jun 17, 2008 4:56 AM

No stops.

dagobert Jun 17, 2008 5:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3618038)
No stops.

Makes sense. So how fast would Airport Express be? 20 min from the Loop to ORD?

Marcu Jun 17, 2008 5:02 AM

^ 40 minutes is still a lot to travel that short of a distance so an express wouls be nice. A metra train, without stops, can probably get to the ohare transfer stop in less than 20.

k1052 Jun 17, 2008 1:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu (Post 3618053)
^ 40 minutes is still a lot to travel that short of a distance so an express wouls be nice. A metra train, without stops, can probably get to the ohare transfer stop in less than 20.

Under 40 minutes to the terminal of the airport isn't too bad compared with the current alternatives (A $35+ cab ride that could take just as long or longer/airport parking rates $$).

Even taking Metra you have to do the bus to ATS to terminal dance.

pilsenarch Jun 17, 2008 2:02 PM

Remember, the proposal not only calls for new cars with a higher standard of comfort never before seen in this system, but also will offer the ability to check bags and go through security at b37....

Mr Downtown Jun 17, 2008 6:29 PM

That, of course, is what we were promised when 203 N. LaSalle (the Transportation Center) was built in the early 80s.

Is there anywhere that the TSA actually permits offsite security clearance?

Soaring_Higher Jun 17, 2008 6:59 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/featur...,5138636.story



CTA testing new hybrid electric-powered bus
Vehicle touted to get 7 m.p.g., rather than just 3 or 4

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
11:53 AM CDT, June 17, 2008


The CTA on Tuesday began testing a lighter-weight hybrid electric-powered bus that may achieve double the fuel efficiency of current hybrid buses, officials said.

The key behind the technology is a jetlike turbine that delivers electricity to a battery pack that solely powers the bus.

It differs from traditional hybrid technology that still relies on a diesel engine to power the vehicle but with the assistance of an electric motor that charges batteries for use when the vehicle is coasting.

The bus being tested by the CTA is made by DesignLine International LLC in Charlotte, N.C.

The bus, called the ECOSaver, claims to get seven to eight miles per gallon.

Regular CTA diesel-powered buses average two to three m.p.g., while the CTA's current hybrids get about four m.p.g., officials said.

The CTA faces an overrun of as much as $25 million in its fuel budget this year.

"We will operate the bus on several routes over the next three weeks to evaluate its performance," CTA President Ron Huberman said...

Abner Jun 17, 2008 8:03 PM

So a bus that gets 8 mpg would actually use less fuel than individual cars with an average of only four passengers on board? Or is there more to it than that?

The article also mentions that this new bus has an aluminum composite chassis that makes it three to five tons lighter than a typical stainless steel bus!

spyguy Jun 17, 2008 9:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Soaring_Higher (Post 3619098)
[url]

CTA testing new hybrid electric-powered bus
Vehicle touted to get 7 m.p.g., rather than just 3 or 4

http://img372.imageshack.us/img372/6006/40089811no0.jpg


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