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the urban politician May 5, 2009 3:22 PM

Funny thing about the Circle Line is that it already seems like a line that won't live up to its promise as a heavy rail line. If it's built as a BRT I'm guessing it will be even less useful. I sort of figure that if it's going to get built, it might as well be built as a rail line.

SkokieSwift May 5, 2009 7:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4232643)
Thanks for checking. But, where? I took a look at an aerial photo. I see very little near the station. I also see nothing covered, which would be a deal killer for many prospective rail users.

http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/25/swift.jpg

Courtesy of google street views, here is a pic of the park-n-ride looking south from Dempster. The station is on the right. As you can see, the lack of covered parking isn't preventing the lot from filling up.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4232643)
A no-brainer because you're from there.
Wading a half-mile into a suburb you've never been to, and a quasi-suburban, quasi-suburban one like Skokie, in a relatively visually monotonous area of 1960s-1970s architectural duds and strip malls and drive-thrus with few distinctive geographic features, is not a no-brainer. It's at least a little-bit-brainer, at least for the psychology of most car-centric suburbanites. You really have to set the hurdle low to get some people to use trains.

Dempster is a major thoroughfare for car-centric suburbanites from Skokie, Morton Grove, and Niles. I am guessing the vast majority of the riders boarding at Dempster are from these three villages. However, I agree that the blue bloods from up north would be more familiar and comfortable with an Old Orchard station.

brian_b May 6, 2009 1:54 AM

Does the CTA have any of the new rail cars in service? I ask because a train has gone into the Loop and come back out via the Lake Street El that was perfectly quiet except for motor noise. Based on pitch change, the electric motors were under load slowing down into the Clinton stop (regen?). Unless they have two trains with brand-new 100% round wheels in service on the Green Line, I'd say that the timing puts it on the Pink Line.

Attrill May 6, 2009 2:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brian_b (Post 4234117)
Does the CTA have any of the new rail cars in service? I ask because a train has gone into the Loop and come back out via the Lake Street El that was perfectly quiet except for motor noise. Based on pitch change, the electric motors were under load slowing down into the Clinton stop (regen?). Unless they have two trains with brand-new 100% round wheels in service on the Green Line, I'd say that the timing puts it on the Pink Line.

They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

brian_b May 6, 2009 4:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4234254)
They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

I can't tell from my apartment. It went by again; it's a very distinctive sound (or lack thereof). But it still could very well be an old train with brand-new wheels.

Mr Downtown May 6, 2009 4:23 AM

Last summer I began noticing that some Pink Line trains have a very different motor sound than the other trains. I questioned the CTA's chief electrical engineer but he didn't know what I could be referring to. But a few times a day I hear a train go by my office window that sounds different, and it's always a Pink Line train.

ChicagoChicago May 6, 2009 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4234254)
They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

Did they give a reason for using the blue and pink lines? Why would the CTA send the trains directly to an area where they will just be pissed in (blue)?

Attrill May 7, 2009 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4235921)
Did they give a reason for using the blue and pink lines? Why would the CTA send the trains directly to an area where they will just be pissed in (blue)?

The Blue line is the first line to get the new trains (since they will be replacing the oldest trains the CTA has). At this point they still have to do test runs before accepting any trains for delivery and putting them into services. It's unclear when these tests will begin, but it should be very soon based on their announced timelines. I don't think they will have anyone riding them during tests.

The Pink line could very easily be part of the tests as well, due to the lines' connectivity.

the urban politician May 8, 2009 4:34 PM

Durbin lobbies for high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis, Chicago
Associated Press
Published: 5/8/2009 9:19 AM | Updated: 5/8/2009 9:40 AM

ST. LOUIS -- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill are lobbying for a high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago.

The Democratic lawmakers were to meet privately Friday in St. Louis with Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman and officials with Union Pacific railroad and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Initially, regional transportation offices will compete for the $8 billion included in the $787 billion economic stimulus spending package for high-speed rail.

The $8 billion is part of $64 billion in the stimulus package for roads, bridges, rail and transit.

Durbin says the money will be awarded on a competitive basis, and Friday's meeting will focus on the corridor's funding needs and how officials can lure stimulus money for the project.

emathias May 9, 2009 5:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4239064)
...
ST. LOUIS -- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill are lobbying for a high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago.
...

I have to admit that I think rail upgrades between Chicago and Milwaukee, continuing on to Madison and then on to Minneapolis/St. Paul (preferably through Rochester) makes as much, if not more, sense as Chicago to St. Louis.

There are 85 non-stops flights a day to St. Louis from Chicago.

But 103 non-stops to Minneapolis.

PLUS 68 non-stops between Milwaukee and Minneapolis each day PLUS 20 non-stops between Madison and Minneapolis PLUS 78 between Madison and Chicago PLUS 8 between Madison and Milwaukee.

To me that shows the potential for a lot more passenger traffic for a CHI-MKE-MSN-MSP route than from a CHI-STL route, even if you factored in Springfield and/or Peoria and/or Urbana.

Plus, a CHI-MSP route gets senators from at least three states involved instead of just two.

Maybe that route just doesn't get the press of the CHI-STL route, but I wish it did.

ardecila May 9, 2009 7:05 AM

It's not like that, emathias. Durbin is lobbying for the Chicago-StL line BECAUSE 98% of the route is in Illinois, so construction dollars spent on that route would go to and benefit Illinoisans. The Twin Cities-Chicago route will obviously benefit Chicago, but since most of the trackage will be in Wisconsin, them (and Minnesota) are the ones pushing for it in DC. And TUP has done a fairly good job of ferreting out articles about high-speed rail from Milwaukee, Madison, and Twin Cities publications, so you can't say it hasn't gotten exposure.

the urban politician May 9, 2009 5:56 PM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS May 8, 2009, 6:24PM ET text size: TT
Agreement reached on high-speed rail corridor

By CHERYL WITTENAUER

MORE FROM BUSINESSWEEK

Union Pacific Railroad and the state of Illinois announced an agreement Friday to assess what must be done to operate both freight and high-speed passenger trains on the Chicago-to-St. Louis rail corridor.

The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad said it will provide the study to the Illinois Department of Transportation by June. The parties described the move as a critical step for Illinois to compete for federal funds to build a high-speed rail line in that corridor.

The announcement followed private talks Friday in St. Louis between Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Claire McCaskill of Missouri and officials with Amtrak, Union Pacific and IDOT.

"IDOT and Union Pacific have a memorandum of understanding to outline the work needed to have a true high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago," Durbin said afterward.

He noted that President Barack Obama has told the states that if they're interested in some of the $8 billion in federal economic stimulus funds designated for high-speed rail, they should "step up and be ready to compete."

"We've stepped up," Durbin said.

Durbin and McCaskill have been lobbying for a high-speed rail corridor between the two cities.

The $8 billion is part of $64 billion in the federal stimulus package for roads, bridges, rail and transit. It's part of an overall $787 billion economic stimulus spending package.

Durbin said the money will be awarded on a competitive basis.

McCaskill said she also will pursue high-speed rail for the St. Louis-to-Kansas City corridor.

"It's not just the East Coast that wants high-speed rail," McCaskill said. "It's the grand and glorious middle."

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay applauded the senators for getting "things done." He said high-speed rail is "environmentally friendly, energy efficient and economical."

Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said the agreement signed Friday with the railroad was first in the U.S. The study would be completed in time for the federal government's announcement of application guidelines in June. He said it would serve as a blueprint for asking Congress to help fund development of a high-speed rail corridor.

Robert Turner, a senior vice president for Union Pacific, said freight and passenger rail have coexisted unevenly, and that the challenge would be to integrate them. Before rail travel began declining in the 1960s, the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor had separate tracks for passenger trains and freight. It was later reduced to a single track but the bed of the other track is still intact.

Turner said there are ways to accommodate the two. Slower-moving freight trains could be diverted on turnouts to make way for passenger trains traveling as fast as 110 mph.

The Chicago-to-St. Louis trip would be reduced from almost six hours to fewer than four.

Illinois will pay up to $400,000 for the study. Durbin said developing the line would create 10,000 construction jobs.

denizen467 May 9, 2009 10:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4240829)
Before rail travel began declining in the 1960s, the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor had separate tracks for passenger trains and freight. It was later reduced to a single track but the bed of the other track is still intact.

I've always wondered about this! I know money is always the issue, but if the r-o-w and even railbeds are there, it seems like a no-brainer.
How many more routes around Chicago have unused railbeds still intact?

VivaLFuego May 10, 2009 6:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4241082)
I've always wondered about this! I know money is always the issue, but if the r-o-w and even railbeds are there, it seems like a no-brainer.
How many more routes around Chicago have unused railbeds still intact?

The Illinois Central is an obvious one.

denizen467 May 10, 2009 7:27 AM

^ Where does that run (where in the city, and where in the hinterland)?

Mr Downtown May 10, 2009 2:55 PM

Quote:

the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor had separate tracks for passenger trains and freight. It was later reduced to a single track but the bed of the other track is still intact.
I don't think this is correct. The Alton Road may have been double-tracked in places, but that's different from having separate freight and passenger train tracks.

The only place I've ever seen completely separate tracks is the IC north of Kensington, which was rebuilt with 10 tracks into downtown. Even there, I think the freights shared the four easternmost tracks with the long distance trains such as the Panama Limited and City of New Orleans, while the other six tracks were for suburban service.

In the late 80s, the IC single-tracked its mainline to Memphis and New Orleans, a bonehead move that they claimed would make the railroad more efficient.

the urban politician May 11, 2009 3:49 PM

Great article
 
Slow zone
By: Paul Merrion May 11, 2009
Chicago's economy has long been tied to its role as the nation's transportation hub, a position threatened by the recession.
While moving goods and passengers by air, truck, rail and barge accounts for barely 3% of Chicago's economic output, the transportation and warehousing sector draws manufacturers, distributors, service providers and corporate headquarters to the center of the nation's supply chain.

BVictor1 May 12, 2009 5:53 PM

http://www.planning.org/tuesdaysatapa/index.htm

Streetcars
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 • 5:00 p.m.

Streetcars were the primary circulation system of all cities small and large during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Streetcars not only facilitated growth but influenced development patterns and even social structures. Starting in the 1920s, the rise in popularity of the automobile led to the decline of most streetcar systems. Now, cities around the country have reintroduced streetcars to "stitch together" revitalizing downtowns and to promote walkability.

David Wilson from the Chicago Transit Authority will revisit the history of streetcars in Chicago and discuss how other cities are making use of streetcars today.

David A. Wilson works as a Service Planner for Chicago Transit Authority analyzing transit routes for effectiveness and efficiency. After a career in freight transportation, David returned to school and received a master's degree in Urban Planning and Policy with a focus on Transportation from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2006. He has presented programs on transportation history topics to a variety of community and academic organizations. He presented a paper on Streetcar Reintroduction at the 2006 annual meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and as a guest lecturer at UIC he presented a program on the Evolution of Transit Technology.

the urban politician May 13, 2009 3:52 AM

A question for those of you in the know..
 
I'm just curious about one tiny thing:

What is it about Ford City Shopping Center that is prompting leaders to look for expensive federal funding towards a heavy rail line extension?

If this seems like a silly question, I'm asking this because it seems like it's kind of arbitrary. There are suburban-type shopping centers all over the Chicago area, including within and in close proximity to the city, with no rail connections, no? I'm just curious how a transit line to Ford City got political backing. From my vague memories of visiting that site once, I think it consisted of a Sears, Marshalls, and a few other humdrum meat & potato stores. Certainly nothing spectacular.

I realize this is mostly about employees, but again it still seems arbitrary unless you're also using this as an opportunity for a large park & ride for southwest siders. Am I getting warm?

Mr Downtown May 13, 2009 4:44 AM

Ford City itself is probably only 800,000 sq ft of retail, but it's surrounded by another three million or so in big boxes or power centers. And it's thought that it would be a more convenient bus terminal, for Pace and CTA lines that converge from the southwest suburbs.

I have my doubts, however, that it will make the New Starts threshold for new ridership.


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