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  #7641  
Old Posted Mar 4, 2011, 8:43 AM
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Metra Electrification and Commuter Rail Workshop

Is anyone else on this Board attending this Workshop?

http://www.tflex.org/default.asp
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  #7642  
Old Posted Mar 11, 2011, 9:14 AM
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Is anyone else on this Board attending this Workshop?

http://www.tflex.org/default.asp

Is anybody out there??
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  #7643  
Old Posted Mar 11, 2011, 9:38 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Is anybody out there??
It sounds interesting, but I won't have time to do it.
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  #7644  
Old Posted Mar 12, 2011, 4:34 AM
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Looks like the new Metra 35th Street station will be open in a couple weeks, in time for the Sox opener.
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  #7645  
Old Posted Mar 12, 2011, 4:42 AM
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Between having a Dem governor (unlike states with R governors cancelling rail projects) and the Chicago axis in the White House, things really are lined up for IL to become an early leader in (quasi-) high speed rail in the US.


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,3115845.story

Illinois can vie for $2.4 billion in high-speed rail cash
By Jon Hilkevitch Tribune reporter
4:15 p.m. CST, March 11, 2011

Illinois and other states with high-speed passenger rail programs will be allowed to compete for $2.4 billion in federal funds that Florida turned down when its governor killed a fast-trains project between Orlando and Tampa, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today.

It will provide the second opportunity for Illinois to pick up federal high-speed rail funds relinquished by other states. In December, Illinois was awarded about $42 million after the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio scuttled the rail programs in those two states. Wisconsin gave up $810 million and Ohio lost $400 million.

Illinois had previously received $1.2 billion in federal grants to upgrade tracks and signals for 110 mph Amtrak service on the Union Pacific Railroad route between Chicago and St. Louis. Amtrak trains currently are limited to 79 mph on the route.

...

Applications for the funding will be due on April 4, officials said.

...
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  #7646  
Old Posted Mar 12, 2011, 5:28 PM
Baronvonellis Baronvonellis is offline
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The metra northside bridge repair project is going to start back up again this spring. They aren't going to disrupt the schedule this time and are going to keep the space for a potential third track by rebuilding a retaining wall on the west side. It's supposed to be completed in 2019 which is incredible for rebuilding 2.5 miles of track. At that rate it would take 100 years to build a high speed rail to St. Louis. I don't get how they completely rebuild the Dan Ryan in a couple years but it takes a 8 YEARS to replace a couple tiny rail bridges.
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  #7647  
Old Posted Mar 12, 2011, 7:13 PM
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^^^ Source? If they’re keeping the extra space, it’s great news.

I’m not worried about the timescale of the project—rebuilding the bridges is more to benefit trucks than riders, and while I think trucking is definitely underrated by most urbanists (it’s a pretty efficient way to get a lot of goods from one part of an urban area to another), as Aaron Renn noted this really shouldn’t be Metra’s biggest priority. I think the timeline has more to do with the financing structure than anything else.
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  #7648  
Old Posted Mar 12, 2011, 8:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Baronvonellis View Post
... It's supposed to be completed in 2019 which is incredible for rebuilding 2.5 miles of track. At that rate it would take 100 years to build a high speed rail to St. Louis. I don't get how they completely rebuild the Dan Ryan in a couple years but it takes a 8 YEARS to replace a couple tiny rail bridges.
Mind you it's like 25 rail bridges. Still, the timeframe seems ridiculous, unless it's a financial issue like B_M just said.

If it is going to be accomplished with no disruption, does that mean they are effectively building a 3rd track before reconstructing either existing track? If so, that's fantastic.
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  #7649  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 7:11 AM
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I think the timeline has more to do with the financing structure than anything else.
No, the timeline is because Metra can't disrupt the train schedule. It's amazing how long construction takes when the users of the line refuse to shoulder any of the burden. Just look at the Second Avenue Subway.

I'm guessing the retaining wall has to do with construction staging. Metra was pretty clear earlier that they don't see the need for a third track. If building a retaining wall allows for a third track, that's just a side effect.

Metra's failure was one of communication, not one of poor engineering. They failed to let passengers know that their service WOULD be adjusted and schedules WOULD be changed. I rode the UP-N line pretty much every day over the summer, and Metra's only announcements were small pieces of printer paper tacked to the walls in stations.

If Metra had launched an all-out media blitz with big colorful signs (how about taking over some of that ad space?), conductor announcements, and flyers, it would have worked much better, and they could have saved a ton of money on re-engineering and project delays.
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  #7650  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 9:19 AM
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^ I'm not sure about that, ardecila; the trains were (reportedly) overly crowded and poorly spaced. They wouldn't cancel a year's work just because pampered passengers needed more easing-in to the new regime. After all, just repeating the experiment this spring will not yield better results without actually changing the construction program, no?

Anyhow, how about a source on this, so we can actually see what the plans are? This link just says "coming soon": http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/a...lprojects.html
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  #7651  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 4:07 PM
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There were a lot of problems with the new scheduling and it wasn't running right, but that should have been expected. Metra was always going to have to adjust the plan to minimize the disruption but that couldn't happen until they saw how it would run.

That said Metra did a TERRIBLE job telling people on the line what was going to happen and urge them to find alternatives. One thing the CTA did right was scare the crap out of people when Fullerton and Belmont were being rebuilt and bluntly (and repeatedly) telling riders that they need to use alternatives.
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  #7652  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 5:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Baronvonellis View Post
They . . . are going to keep the space for a potential third track by rebuilding a retaining wall on the west side.
Are you sure? I thought Metra was too shy to challenge UP's absurd standards for track centers. After all, you never know when two oversize nuclear containment vessels might need to pass each other at Roscoe Street while there's a full construction crew with front-end loader in between the tracks. Space on the embankment for a theoretical third track does no good if all the through-girder bridges are placed for two tracks.
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  #7653  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 6:20 PM
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^^^I’ve also heard it’s to allow UP trains more room in case if they derail because they find allowing a certain number of derailments to be less expensive than proper track maintenance, though I’d expect Metra to shoulder a lot of that burden.

Too bad Metra wasn’t able to just buy the lines it needed from C&NW outright back when it went under.
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  #7654  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by k1052 View Post
That said Metra did a TERRIBLE job telling people on the line what was going to happen and urge them to find alternatives. One thing the CTA did right was scare the crap out of people when Fullerton and Belmont were being rebuilt and bluntly (and repeatedly) telling riders that they need to use alternatives.
Bingo. If you look at recent megaprojects by IDOT or CDOT, they get the word out. They notify the newsradio stations and TV stations, post massive signs, create a dedicated website with information and suggested reroutes, etc.

The Wacker Drive project, and the recent Eisenhower rebuilding project, have gone remarkably well.

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Are you sure? I thought Metra was too shy to challenge UP's absurd standards for track centers. After all, you never know when two oversize nuclear containment vessels might need to pass each other at Roscoe Street while there's a full construction crew with front-end loader in between the tracks. Space on the embankment for a theoretical third track does no good if all the through-girder bridges are placed for two tracks.
I don't understand... there's no freight service on the UP-N line (at least within Chicago). There is a small amount of freight that moves on the UP (there is that little yard at Lemoyne) but it must be a tiny amount, and I think it all comes and goes via the Northwest line.
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  #7655  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2011, 8:10 PM
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^That's what makes it so absurd for UP to insist on the same track centers they like to have through Nebraska ranchland.

C&NW never "went under," Beta. UP simply bought it in 1995.
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  #7656  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 12:54 AM
Baronvonellis Baronvonellis is offline
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,1072777.story

^^^ Here's the link to the story guys.
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  #7657  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 1:24 AM
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C&NW never "went under," Beta. UP simply bought it in 1995.
Yeah, from what I understand it was mostly motivated by C&NW restricting UP's access to the hugely lucrative Powder River Basin.

C&NW was one of the most "responsible" railroads in the country... they were perfectly fine continuing to operate commuter service - it had always been a cornerstone of their business. They built their physical plant to last, and kept it that way through pretty routine maintenance. For example, they used granite for ballast instead of limestone - kinda like paving roads with concrete instead of asphalt, it has a higher initial cost but a much longer lifespan.

They were sorta like the Midwest's version of the PRR - definitely the premier railroad in the upper Midwest (which had a very crowded field of competitor railroads).
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  #7658  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 2:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Baronvonellis View Post
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,1072777.story

^^^ Here's the link to the story guys.
Metra: New UP North plan won't change schedule
Rebuilding bridges will cost $40 million more than original plan

By Richard Wronski, Tribune reporter
7:51 PM CST, March 11, 2011

Metra officials Friday unveiled their new plan to replace century-old bridges on the Union Pacific North Line, avoiding the train schedule changes that stirred up a rider revolt last year.

The revised project, now pegged at $215 million, will cost $40 million more than originally estimated, however, because new retaining walls will be built along the western edge of the tracks on Chicago's North Side.

The new plan will allow Metra to keep two tracks in service while the bridges are reconstructed, unlike the single-track scheme attempted last year, which prompted an uproar among commuters.

Running 70 trains a day through a single set of tracks proved a scheduling nightmare. Commuters complained, and UP North ridership dropped 10 percent in September, forcing Metra to scrap the plan.

Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris said staffers "went back to the drawing board," and she was optimistic the new plan would succeed.

...

The bridges date as far back as 1898, with abutments built out of limestone blocks. Although the line is owned by the Union Pacific Railway, which operates the commuter trains, Metra must pick up the tab for the project, officials said.

Metra awarded the contract to Walsh Construction Co. last year.

The rail right-of-way once contained three sets of tracks, and the new plan leaves room for replacement of the third track, although there are no plans or money to do so, officials said.

UP North riders, railroad experts and at least one board member, James LaBelle, had criticized the original plan for not including room for the third track.
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  #7659  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 4:47 AM
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I hope they can keep the limestone abutments. Those are great, and they last far longer than concrete. Look at the concrete at the Rogers underpass - it's crumbling, while the limestone at other underpasses is still going strong.

The limestone is unsightly - most of the limestone abutments were whitewashed, which then stained from runoff from the rusty bridges. But this should be fairly easy to clean with some sandblasting, and they won't re-stain since the bridges are being replaced.
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Last edited by ardecila; Mar 14, 2011 at 4:57 AM.
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  #7660  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 5:30 PM
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C&NW never "went under," Beta. UP simply bought it in 1995.
Ah, didn’t realize that—whenever I hear about a defunct railroad I usually just assume it went out of business. Thanks for the correction.
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