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  #14601  
Old Posted Jan 9, 2019, 6:33 AM
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Metra Dreams Big

From an article in Trains Magazine-

Quote:
As part of his presentation Monday at the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association Conference, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Director Bruce Marcheschi not only outlined Metra’s capital plans for 2019, but the far greater vision that would come with a $5-billion, 10-year capital funding plan it is seeking from the state of Illinois.

Marcheschi called this “The Ask,” and it’s a big one – not only because of the dollar figure involved, but also because he noted it has been 10 years there was a state plan covering Metra capital needs. With a new governor, J.B. Pritzker, taking office on Wednesday, Marcheschi and Metra hope that might change.
Quote:
What does “The Ask” entail?

-Rolling Stock: 40 new locomotives, 400 new coaches, and conversion of 54 existing locomotives to A.C. traction motors. Some of Metra’s coaches, for example, date to the 1950s. “We’re putting an RFP [Request For Proposal] together to go onto the street sometime in this first quarter, looking at at least 400 coach car purchases,” Marcheschi said.

-Station improvements: More warming shelters, with improved lighting and security cameras. “The station is really the first place our passengers get our experience,” Marcheschi said. “Is it clean? Is it safe? Am I well-guided? Do I know where I’m going? If we can’t get that first, then we miss the first step of the whole customer service program that we want.

-Service improvements: More express trains, which requires more capacity – not just in terms of cars, but yard space for those car, along with track improvements to run at higher speeds, more crossovers for dispatching flexibility, and extended platforms to accommodate longer trains.

-Refurbishment or replacement of 10 bridges a year – which still would address just a fraction of the more than 400 bridges Metra uses that are a century old or older.

-Electrification of the Rock Island District, the 40-mile route between downtown Chicago’s La Salle Street Station and Joliet, Ill. The Metra-owned line currently sees 67 trains each weekday. “We feel electrification is more reliable, it’s more efficient, and it reduces emissions. So that’s something that we’re looking at.”

-Replacement of the complex junction at Tower A-2, two miles from Chicago Union Station. “Seven lines of train service traverse it every day; 337 train movements every day,” Marcheschi said. “If something happens there, it can spoil the whole day.” A study of design options for A-2 is set to begin in a matter of weeks, he said. “Right now, we’re looking at a flyover. We’ve got the Union Pacific and Metra cross each other over a set of 12 double-slip switches. … We’re just starting the design concept right now.”

-The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, to address one of Chicago’s most notorious rail bottlenecks. Some $474 million of this project has been funded. But the full $1.1 billion 75th Street plan would also include a connection between the Metra Rock Island District and the line used by SouthWest Service trains; that would allow SouthWest trains to originate at LaSalle Street Station rather than Union Station, opening up platform capacity at Union Station. Related changes would also include increasing capacity at LaSalle Street and a section of triple track to reach the station.

-Service to O’Hare International Airport. The lightly-used Metra O’Hare Transfer station (which sees 10 weekday-only round trips on the North Central Service) would see dedicated service every half-hour from both Union Station and the nearby Ogilvie Transportation Center.

“Again, that’s $5 billion over 10 years,” Marcheschi said. “If we get that, we’re in a good spot.”
Quote:
In the meantime, there are the capital plans for 2019 – in comparison, a modest $185.6 million, all from federal funding, which will include $40.3 million for rolling stock, $54.6 million for track and structures, and $31.8 million for signals, electrical, and communications. The latter figure, Marcheschi noted, reflects the last year Metra has to divert capital funds to positive train control installation.

Bridges are going to be a major focus in Metra’s 2019 capital spending, reflecting the system’s aging infrastructure. The largest bridge projects in the budget are $12 million to replace bridge A-32 on the Milwaukee North line, with design beginning in the first quarter of 2019 and construction starting in 2020; $7 million to rehabilitate the timber Morgan Street bridge on the Rock Island District, with construction to begin later in 2019; and $4 million to rehab the 96th Street bridge on the Rock Island District.

Station projects on tap include a $40 million rehab of the Van Buren Street station on the Metra Electric line, a structure which dates to 1896. Design work is scheduled to be completed by mid year, with construction, in phases, beginning in 2020. There will also be a new Peterson Ridge station on the UP North line, budged at $15 million, and a rebuild of the 59th/60th Street Station on the Metra Electric, near the site for the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, near the University of Chicago. That will be a $14 million project. “We were just going to do a rehab,” Marcheschi said, “but when they decided to put the Obama library in the vicinity, we said, ‘Well, it can’t be just a rehab. It’s got to be much more than that.’ And it will be.”
In other Metra news, the commuter rail service introduced the repainted Metra locomotive 405 in the colors of the former Milwaukee Road.

img src - metrarail insta

405 joins loco 425, painted in the yellow and Rocket Red of the former Rock Island, introduced in December, 2017.

img src - metrarail insta
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  #14602  
Old Posted Jan 9, 2019, 1:11 PM
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At a bare absolute minimum they have got to get all the rolling stock. They are so short on spares for both locomotives and coaches plus the old power constantly breaks down. Fortunately since only one company bid on their gallery car RFP and they've had to go back and look at modern bilevels.

Seems they're going straight to the state for the RI connection at 75th Street which appears to be a change.
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  #14603  
Old Posted Jan 9, 2019, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
-Electrification of the Rock Island District, the 40-mile route between downtown Chicago’s La Salle Street Station and Joliet, Ill. The Metra-owned line currently sees 67 trains each weekday. “We feel electrification is more reliable, it’s more efficient, and it reduces emissions. So that’s something that we’re looking at.”


I never thought I'd see the day.

Rock Island is the obvious place to start electrification since Metra owns it and it's isolated from the rest of the system (although that will change once the SWS connection opens).

I wonder why the attitude change from Metra, though? This can't be related to Related's proposed tunnel at The 78? That could be mechanically ventilated, and would pose issues for future diesel SWS trains if it wasn't. Maybe the logic of electrification is finally sinking in via Toronto's Metrolinx program...

Also the electrification is useful on its own, but really Metra should look into high platforms as well. Because RI is isolated, it can run a different fleet of high-level cars...
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  #14604  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 12:44 AM
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Yeah it is exciting and sort of restores just slightly my confidence in the agencies leadership. Though I would stop short of saying "the obvious place to start electrification" as I would think if they are casually considering even the possibility of electrifying the RI district, the most glaringly obvious candidate for conversion potential w/ all the right ingredients, that means there must be negative chance of electrification happening anywhere else. That's just the sad reality we're dealing with. The combination that none of Metra's lines outside of the IC had a previous or current RR owner that implimented electrification in the early days (like the LIRR, NYC, NH, EL, PRR, Reading, etc. out east and not to mention the rest of the world) and the limited operational budget that just prevents capital investment in systemwide conversion means Metra will be operating diesel trains when my kids kids have kids (if I ever have kids that is). Correct points about other RI improvements like high platforms. Would love to see an S-Bahn running on the RI.
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  #14605  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 5:59 AM
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Metra held a depressing conference about electrification a few years ago as they were evaluating what to do with ME, and basically dismissed the idea of further electrification entirely while acknowledging it made sense to keep it on ME. This is a huge change to see that some of Metra’s leadership is open to the idea of further electrification, as well as a frequent service to O’Hare that starts to resemble CrossRail in some ways - a good backup plan if/when Musk’s tunnel fails. Electrifying the rest of the lines will be a huge uphill battle with freight railroads, even the Milwaukee District is heavily used by CP. It makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit of RI and build expertise, especially if the new system will be 25kV AC instead of the DC system on Metra Electric.


They’re not wrong when they point out that fleet replacement is the most pressing capital need, along with bridge work. But it’s good to see they are finally acknowledging they can’t just go to the taxpayer year after year crying poverty while they continue to operate 1950s style rail service. They’ve gotta get more relevant to more people, because right now not enough people are convinced.
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Last edited by ardecila; Jan 10, 2019 at 6:10 AM.
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  #14606  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 1:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post


I never thought I'd see the day.

Rock Island is the obvious place to start electrification since Metra owns it and it's isolated from the rest of the system (although that will change once the SWS connection opens).

I wonder why the attitude change from Metra, though? This can't be related to Related's proposed tunnel at The 78? That could be mechanically ventilated, and would pose issues for future diesel SWS trains if it wasn't. Maybe the logic of electrification is finally sinking in via Toronto's Metrolinx program...

Also the electrification is useful on its own, but really Metra should look into high platforms as well. Because RI is isolated, it can run a different fleet of high-level cars...
They batted this idea of electrifying the RI around a good while back but as they're perpetually short of cash it didn't really go anywhere. I am pleased to see it resurface.

RI with high level platforms and electric euro rolling stock would be a sight to see.
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  #14607  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 4:58 PM
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I wonder what the barriers would be to expanding electrification on other lines? Many have very limited freight operations as it is. Also, makes sense to study now given that the majority of the fleet needs to be replaced.
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  #14608  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 5:22 PM
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Besides the lack of capital funding, the biggest barriers to implementing electrification on other lines is it being a priority of Metra. The benefits of electrification are additional schedule capacity due to acceleration performance, lower long term maintenance costs to motive power rolling stock, energy savings over volatile diesel fuel, and related of course, the elimination of carbon emissions from the trains themselves. The reason it seems to not be a priority is that Metra does not see the aforementioned benefits to be enough to justify the capital expense (which would also include new rolling stock and a list of other required modifications), funds they don't even come close to having by the way, outside of a corridor where it makes the absolute most sense with all the right characteristics - and that is the RI District. Another theory, of mine at least, is that in the United States, as we all know, transport op's and transport infra is grotesquely under-invested in and when you add in our geographic and cultural isolation, there is a real lack of peer pressure to modernize our systems, out of shame or out of pride, and on the administrative level a real lack of vision and ambition, still today, which stems from decades of becoming accustomed and satisfied with bare-bones operation and, well, decay due to the starvation of funding and prioritizing and subsidization of auto movement over railways.
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  #14609  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 9:20 PM
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I am NOT a fan of electrification. Not with power delivered externally. (If they could do batteries and fast charging at stations, that's fine).
Can't do a 3rd rail where pedestrians walk over the tracks. Metra tracks are ground level and not access controlled.

And overhead wires? Ice storms, wind storms and falling trees, no thanks.

Maybe power delivery could be inductive and buried cable. But efficiency of that is poor. Is it a net C02 reduction? Maybe not.
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  #14610  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 9:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaron38 View Post
I am NOT a fan of electrification. Not with power delivered externally. (If they could do batteries and fast charging at stations, that's fine).
Can't do a 3rd rail where pedestrians walk over the tracks. Metra tracks are ground level and not access controlled.

And overhead wires? Ice storms, wind storms and falling trees, no thanks.

Maybe power delivery could be inductive and buried cable. But efficiency of that is poor. Is it a net C02 reduction? Maybe not.
Electric rail (overhead or 3rd rail) works perfectly fine lots of cold/windy places.
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  #14611  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 10:27 PM
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Ald. Dowell comes out against the 15th & Clark Red Line station:
"While I fully support 'The 78' development as unique and necessary opportunity for growth in the City of Chicago, I can not support Related Midwest's proposal to add a new CTA Red Line Station on 15th St. and Clark St., right in the middle of an established, entirely residential area. This location would be too disruptive for my residents and completely out of character with the area."

'The 78' is a 62-acre mixed-use development along Chicago's riverfront extending from Roosevelt Rd. to 16th St., from Clark St. to the Chicago River. 'The 78' development is located in the 25th Ward, while the proposed CTA Red Line Station would be located in the 3rd Ward. Currently, the closest CTA train stations to 'The 78' are located at Roosevlet Rd./State St. and Cermak/Chinatown. The proposed CTA Red Line Station for 15th St. and Clark St. would be within in the Dearborn Park II community, which consists exclusively of townhomes and several larger condominium buildings. Staging and construction for the new station would also impact Cotton Tail Park, a popular and widely used Chicago Park District neighborhood park. The construction of the proposed CTA Red Line Station would eliminate already limited community green space for years.

"I appreciate the hard work Curt Bailey and his team at Related Midwest have put in to 'The 78.' He has been more than willing to explain the CTA Red Line Station proposal to residents and open to meeting with the community to hear their thoughts. I recognize that is very difficult and I truly commend Related Midwest for their commitment. But throughout this process it has been clear that my constituents, who I am elected to represent, are against the new station. So as their Alderman, I respect my constituents' voice and join them in opposing the CTA Red Line Station for 15th St. and Clark St."

Previous approvals of 'The 78' project by City Council, which Alderman Dowell supported, did not contain any information regarding the proposed CTA Red Line Station at 15th St. and Clark St. Related Midwest crafted the proposal for a new CTA Red Line Station without community input from 3rd Ward residents. When Related Midwest asked for Alderman Dowell's support for the project, Alderman Dowell held a Town Hall meeting on Monday, December 17, 2018 on the issue to introduce the proposal to the community prior to taking a position. At the Town Hall meeting, Curt Bailey and the Related Midwest team presented the proposed CTA Red Line Station and took comments from the over 200 residents in attendance. Since that meeting, Alderman Dowell has continued to solicit resident's opinions on the project, receiving countless emails, a petition signed by over 500 residents in opposition to the station, social media messages and phone calls on the subject. The vast majority of these comments are firmly against the project.
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  #14612  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 10:30 PM
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^ It almost reads like lip service to her constituents. Sounds like she knows it's a dumb decision, but she unfortuntately won't stand up to the NIMBYs.
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  #14613  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaron38 View Post
I am NOT a fan of electrification. Not with power delivered externally. (If they could do batteries and fast charging at stations, that's fine).
Can't do a 3rd rail where pedestrians walk over the tracks. Metra tracks are ground level and not access controlled.

And overhead wires? Ice storms, wind storms and falling trees, no thanks.

Maybe power delivery could be inductive and buried cable. But efficiency of that is poor. Is it a net C02 reduction? Maybe not.
Ever heard of Scandinavia? As for batteries, the tech isn't there yet and I'm not sure even if it did would make much sense considering the space needed for battery storage eats into carriage layout, as well as power to slog big heavy batteries along with the train sort of negates the benefit versus OCS after the one time capital investment and relatively limited ongoing maintenance cost is figured in. When I hear talk of battery trains I can't help but think of someone jogging with a Walkman powered by 4 size D batteries.

Quote:
Is it a net C02 reduction? Maybe not.

Would it be a local/regional net reduction with noticeably improved particulate levels that leads to better air quality for the people of Chicagoland? Yes, I believe it would be. Would it be a net CO2 reduction writ large considering the power production is just offset to a generating station? Well that depends obviously on what type of power is used. If it's from coal fired or nuclear, then yes I'd imagine there would be a difference. Conversations like this would, and hopefully will change significantly when the country gets serious about alternative energy production.
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  #14614  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 10:44 PM
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is there any way to induce a magnitude 10.0 earthquake wholly confined within clark, polk, state, and the SCAL?
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  #14615  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 10:54 PM
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There's a fat joke in there somewhere
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  #14616  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 6:05 AM
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Perhaps she can telling aldermen behind the scenes that she has to vote against, but won't vigorously oppose it if they want to vote for it.

How is major work for City-wide infrastructure something aldermen can block anyway?
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  #14617  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 7:01 PM
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It's rare for an alderman to oppose a transportation improvement, but the train station use will require a rezoning of private land because of the layout of the tunnel. Dowell has leverage over the zoning change.

The stated reason of most Dearborn Parkers for opposing is that they didn't want Cottontail Park torn up... now that Related is offering a different plan that avoids disruption to the park, watch for their real reasoning to come out - they are scared of Red Line riders and don't want low-income people to have a conduit to their neighborhood. They've worked hard to maintain that fortress atmosphere around the Roosevelt stop, after all.

Seems like somebody like Walter Burnett, who grew up in public housing, identifies far more with transit riders than someone like Dowell who likely grew up in a middle-class family that shunned the CTA and looked down upon transit riders. Burnett's not a squeaky clean alderman, but he is definitely willing to call out his constituents when they show racist attitudes, and he has consistently supported new train stations on the Green Line.
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  #14618  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 7:43 PM
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Opposing a subway station because it's in a residential area? Haha, that's a new one. Well yea, all subway stations are built in residential area's with lots of people around. That's the whole point of a subway station! No one builds subway stations in underpopulated rural areas.
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  #14619  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2019, 7:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Baronvonellis View Post
Opposing a subway station because it's in a residential area? Haha, that's a new one. Well yea, all subway stations are built in residential area's with lots of people around. That's the whole point of a subway station! No one builds subway stations in underpopulated rural areas.
Except of course China -- planing that they'll get "grown into"
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  #14620  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2019, 3:58 PM
Baronvonellis Baronvonellis is offline
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OK, yea maybe in China, or Chicago in 1890 but not in Chicago or the US in 2019.
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