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  #16001  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 1:56 AM
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Metra's 2023-27 capital budget is out. The two big things are a) Metra is still planning to shift towards a regional rail model with frequent service throughout the day. b) Metra is taking over operations of the Union Pacific lines! This has big implications about the need for the A-2 flyover if they can just route the MD lines to Ogilvie and UP-W to Union Station.

Article: https://www.progressiverailroading.c...ic-plan--67780
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  #16002  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 2:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
Metra's 2023-27 capital budget is out. The two big things are a) Metra is still planning to shift towards a regional rail model with frequent service throughout the day. b) Metra is taking over operations of the Union Pacific lines! This has big implications about the need for the A-2 flyover if they can just route the MD lines to Ogilvie and UP-W to Union Station.

Article: https://www.progressiverailroading.c...ic-plan--67780
I think this is a good move by Metra. Having trains move more often during the day to serve as a more regional mover makes sense. Not that it's not important to move people to/from downtown. The burbs here have an advantage of having several older downtown areas that can benefit from this as well. Some of the construction in Mt. Prospect is a good example.

I also didn't realize they were getting new trains in 2025.
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  #16003  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 6:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
Metra's 2023-27 capital budget is out. The two big things are a) Metra is still planning to shift towards a regional rail model with frequent service throughout the day. b) Metra is taking over operations of the Union Pacific lines! This has big implications about the need for the A-2 flyover if they can just route the MD lines to Ogilvie and UP-W to Union Station.

Article: https://www.progressiverailroading.c...ic-plan--67780
When you say taking over operations, does that mean Metra will own those tracks outright? If so, that's great. They won't have to worry about UNP prioritizing freight traffic and constantly delaying passenger trains!
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  #16004  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 7:12 PM
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When you say taking over operations, does that mean Metra will own those tracks outright? If so, that's great. They won't have to worry about UNP prioritizing freight traffic and constantly delaying passenger trains!
Page 30 of the budget says "The transfer of Union Pacific (UP) PSA activities is also planned to begin in 2023, and the budget includes a provision for temporary initial costs that may be incurred."

This seems to imply the transfer will be incremental. It will probably start with Metra operating the lines through trackage rights agreements, while UP still owns the tracks, similar to the NCS and Heritage Corridor. This would also mean conductors would be employed by Metra rather than UP. Purchasing of tracks & stations will probably happen later down the line.
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  #16005  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 7:19 PM
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From what I've read, there's no indicated UP wants to give up its responsibilities. It's simply that UP wants Metra to operate the trains themselves, instead of having them use UP employees to run. So basically Metra is budgeting to have their own employees run the trains instead of Union Pacific. UP still owns the tracks, coordinates trains, etc.

https://www.up.com/media/statements/metra/index.htm

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-revi...muter-dispute/
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  #16006  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2022, 8:11 PM
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Let me just say this arrangement where the railroad that owns the tracks actually operates the passenger trains of a public metropolitan commuter rail agency instead of just some sort of access agreement is one of the most bizarre out there.
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  #16007  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2022, 2:02 AM
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UP will never surrender UP-W since it's part of their busiest transcon freight corridor. UP-N and UP-NW are probably available for the right price, probably in the high 9 figures, but Metra isn't interested in buying since that means they take on all the responsibility of maintenance.

As for switching Metra terminals to avoid the A-2 project, you can't run all the MD lines into Ogilvie, there's not enough room. You could maybe run MD-N into Ogilvie and UP-W out of Union since they have similar service volumes (31 vs 29 daily round trips respectively) but MD-W and NCS have to stay at Union. They might also need to restore the 4th track between Union and Pacific Jct (most bridges still in place).
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  #16008  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2022, 4:04 PM
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Groundbreaking for 75th St Corridor
https://www.illinois.gov/news/press-release.25609.html

They have the money and a contractor selected, so work should begin in the next few weeks. Some advance work is already visible on Google Maps from a few months ago, so they already have a head start. Note this is only the Forest Hill Flyover (aka P3 + GS19) that will elevate CSX tracks over the Belt Railway and Metra/NS tracks, and over 71st St. This should reduce Metra delays on the Southwest Service, though.

A future phase (P2/EW2) will build a 2nd flyover to link Southwest Service to the Rock Island tracks and bring SWS into LaSalle St Station instead of Union. That part is not funded yet.

Not shown on the map but they are also raising the existing Rock Island flyover at 79th St so they can run double stacks under it... once this is done, Metra will build the new Auburn Park station on the flyover.

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  #16009  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2022, 6:31 PM
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more info




https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/10...uthern-ashburn

$380 million flyover project expected to ease rail congestion
Planners hope a new rail bridge will resolve one of the largest chokepoints for passenger and freight rail traffic in the nation.


By Manny Ramos Oct 25, 2022, 5:06pm CDT

A $380 million railroad project on the South Side is expected to eliminate one of the most congested rail chokepoints in the Chicago area.

“Make no mistake, Chicago is a transportation and economic epicenter for all of North America,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the CSX Forest Hill Yard, 7545 S. Western Ave., where the ceremonial groundbreaking for the project was held Tuesday. “It is a critical part of who we are and has been from our very beginning and it continues to be important today.”

More than a dozen local and federal leaders gathered at the rail yard in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood to celebrate what’s officially known as the Forest Hill Flyover.

Construction on the new rail bridge at 75th Street is expected to start this month. When complete, officials said, freight traffic will move more smoothly as the flyover reduces areas where tracks used by the Belt Railway Company, CSX and Norfolk Southern cross each other.

Currently, Lightfoot said, 30 Metra trains cross paths with 90 freight trains every day in that area.
...

The flyover will also help connect Metra’s Southwest Service with the existing Rock Island District tracks — increasing capacity while also improving reliability. Conflicts between 30 Southwest Service Metra trains and 35 freight trains operating on the Western Avenue corridor would be removed.

Metra trains cross freight tracks at multiple locations, including the Forest Hill Junction, and during peak commuter periods only Metra trains are allowed to run in these areas. This can cause both freight trains and Metra trains to sit idle for lengthy delays.

The project also includes eliminating a street-level rail crossing on 71st Street and improving safety and convenience for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

These projects are the first two parts of four major projects being developed as part of the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project. It’s the largest project to date from the Chicago Region Environment and Transportation Efficiency Program.

That program, also known as CREATE, is a public-private partnership that works to improve how passengers and goods travel by rail. It is supported by transportation departments at the federal, state, county and city level.

...

Garcia said Chicago has the busiest freight rail hub in the country, with nearly 500 freight trains and 750 passenger trains moving through the city every day. He said the project will eliminate 8,500 annual hours of passenger delays.

...
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  #16010  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2022, 8:01 PM
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My question is this, how much do the rail companies pay for these projects? We should tie fixing these issues that cost us 100s of millions of dollars and improve THEIR business to them giving up or at discount unused rail....like for example Carrol St. That will NEVER function for the rail lines again.
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  #16011  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2022, 8:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Chi-Sky21 View Post
My question is this, how much do the rail companies pay for these projects? We should tie fixing these issues that cost us 100s of millions of dollars and improve THEIR business to them giving up or at discount unused rail....like for example Carrol St. That will NEVER function for the rail lines again.
They do contribute. I can't find numbers broken out for the individual projects, but CREATE overall has seen freight railroads contribute 23% of total costs ($375M).

Here's the breakdown:
  • Freight railroads: 23%
  • Federal gov't: 39%
  • State gov't: 28%
  • City/county/RTA: 10%

source: FHWA


As for unused rail lines: the City of Chicago doesn't want to take them over until they have a use for them. It's a matter of liability: you don't want someone suing the city because a chunk of concrete fell on their head, or because they tripped on an old rail in the street, or because criminal activity is occurring on the rail line. The city has unofficial agreements with the freight RRs for Carroll Ave/North Branch, the Paseo corridor in Pilsen/Little Village, the Kenwood Line, etc. Whenever the city wants to move, the freight RRs are happy to hand over these lines. A few years ago the city was forced to take over the rail line running thru Lincoln Yards and Goose Island; the freight RR parked tanker cars in the middle of the street to pressure the city into taking action.
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  #16012  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2022, 9:39 PM
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I noticed workers working on repairing the exposed/eroded portions of the Brown Line flyover today during a midday errand. Good to see they are working on a solution.
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  #16013  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2022, 1:30 AM
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The giant gantry crane monster that's assembling the red line is totally insane.
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  #16014  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2022, 3:41 PM
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Some early Christmas gifts from CTA:

CTA starting work (finally) on rehabbing the Congress branch:
https://www.transitchicago.com/cta-a...egoryId=2&pg=2

$105M to rebuild the tracks between UIC-Halsted and Medical District, plus an upgrade project to the Racine station including an elevator for accessibility. i'm glad they're finally starting, but it's annoying they are piecemealing this instead of just knocking it out like CTA did for the Dan Ryan branch 10 years ago.

CTA gets $118M for accessibility improvements:
https://www.chicagobusiness.com/poli...pete-buttigieg

Unfortunately because of our batshit construction costs, the money won't go very far - possibly only 2 stations, Belmont and Irving Park on the Blue Line. The article references Pulaski, but I can't tell if they are referring to the Pulaski entrance at Irving Park, or the Pulaski station on the Congress branch. CTA's official press release does claim it is "three stations", fwiw, but that's still an average of $40M per station. (A brand new station only costs $80M at Damen Green Line.) Both Irving Park and Belmont saw major work recently, now they have to go back and rip up those stations again to add elevators. Just insane the way they do things.

Chicago Ave bus lanes now permanent
https://chi.streetsblog.org/2022/12/09/bus-lanes/

During Covid, CDOT painted some janky "bus lanes" on Chicago Ave from Ashland to Western. The signage was poor, no red paint was used, and the restrictions were rush hour only. Drivers totally ignored them. Now the city has finally added the red paint along the full mile from Ashland to Western and made the bus lane 24/7 instead of rush hour only. I'm sure drivers will still cheat, but now it will just be the assholes instead of just normal drivers that are confused.
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Last edited by ardecila; Dec 22, 2022 at 3:59 PM.
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  #16015  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2022, 9:31 PM
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How the hell is the CTA spending $40 million at each station for an elevator? For its elevated MED stations, Metra is spending $11 million at each station to renovate and install elevators:
https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/loca...roved/3022565/
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  #16016  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2022, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
How the hell is the CTA spending $40 million at each station for an elevator? For its elevated MED stations, Metra is spending $11 million at each station to renovate and install elevators:
https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/loca...roved/3022565/
I assume there’s something funky about these locations that the CTA is leaving for last? Almost all the unfinished stations are either on the Blue Line, suburban, or in the Loop.



https://www.transitchicago.com/asset..._508_FINAL.pdf
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  #16017  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2022, 1:52 AM
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Belmont is the only one that barely makes sense, since it is underground. Irving Park and Pulaski though are in the middle of an expressway, no way it should cost this much.
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  #16018  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2022, 1:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
How the hell is the CTA spending $40 million at each station for an elevator? For its elevated MED stations, Metra is spending $11 million at each station to renovate and install elevators:
https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/loca...roved/3022565/
I agree that the Belmont station rehab was a joke. It was all cosmetic, nothing really changed. The elevator situation there is pretty complex, however. I do understand substantial new tunneling needs to occur, accounting for the cost. Not sure about the Pulaski Congress Line station situation, though.

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  #16019  
Old Posted Dec 26, 2022, 11:13 PM
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Belmont is the only one that barely makes sense, since it is underground. Irving Park and Pulaski though are in the middle of an expressway, no way it should cost this much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
I agree that the Belmont station rehab was a joke. It was all cosmetic, nothing really changed. The elevator situation there is pretty complex, however. I do understand substantial new tunneling needs to occur, accounting for the cost. Not sure about the Pulaski Congress Line station situation, though.

Aaron (Glowrock)
Part of the high cost is that CTA has decided they can't add elevators without also building 2nd exits from each platform for fire safety. I don't know why they have made this decision, which makes accessibility much harder and more expensive to achieve.

Pulaski was built with two exits, but closed its 2nd exit (to Keeler) long ago. My guess is that the Pulaski project will rebuild the Pulaski stationhouse similar to the Ogden stationhouse at IMD (before/after). That project cost $23M. Currently the Pulaski stationhouse has a long ramp, it will be altered to a stair/elevator combo. Presumably the Keeler entrance will be reopened too, both to provide temporary access during station construction and to provide a 2nd fire exit after completion. No idea if the Keeler exit will be an auxiliary entrance, or just a fire exit only.

Irving Park has a whopping four exits designed to facilitate easy bus transfers. If all four exits need elevators, that could get very difficult, especially considering how narrow the platform is.

Belmont was only built with one exit, but they may be planning to add an emergency exit at the south end of the platform near Kimball/Barry. CTA is already building a new substation in this area to provide more juice to Blue Line trains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by galleyfox View Post
I assume there’s something funky about these locations that the CTA is leaving for last? Almost all the unfinished stations are either on the Blue Line, suburban, or in the Loop.
It's not that these locations are especially challenging (except for the subway stations and Loop L stations) - it's that the job of adding accessibility keeps getting harder and more expensive. See above.

Also, the Blue Line can't be shut down for a big modernization like the Green Line had - it's too important to the city's economy. You could maybe do a big reconstruction on the Congress branch, but the Feds have not dumping cash like they used to. So CTA has apparently decided to piecemeal the modernization of both ends of the Blue Line.
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Last edited by ardecila; Dec 26, 2022 at 11:36 PM.
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  #16020  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2022, 3:07 PM
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With the Red/Purple Modernization underway and the Red Extension funded, is there any indication of the CTA’s next big priority? By “big” I mean more than a few new stations or renovations.

Seems like a good time to line up the old Circle Line project for the next flow of Federal money.
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