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  #14841  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2019, 4:15 PM
Jim in Chicago Jim in Chicago is offline
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Originally Posted by sammyg View Post
Do the Chicago suburbs have any of those faux-urban developments like Santana Row in San Jose or Kentlands in Gaithersburg MD?
Chicago has something better - we have the real thing. Just take the Metra out to any of a number of communities - Riverside is great and not a long journey - walk around, and you'll experience the attempts to create such environments from whole cloth. Many of them are rather faded, including Riverside, but still a community.
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  #14842  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2019, 7:43 PM
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I don't think anyone visits Riverside for its downtown. While the curving streets and parks testify to Olmsted's landscape vision, it's not an especially walkable place, nor does it have sufficient density to support local retail or transit.

Classic railroad suburbs are places like Western Springs, Downers Grove, Winnetka, Park Ridge, Glenview, or Homewood.
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  #14843  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2019, 8:14 PM
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^ riverside's village center surrounding the metra stop may not be as substantial as some of those others, but it's not a total nothing burger either.

and it also has that unique water tower!

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8280...7i16384!8i8192
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  #14844  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2019, 3:29 AM
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Hiawatha to increase to 10 rt/day Milw-Chi.

Amtrak Hiawatha increasing Milwaukee-Chicago round trips over the next 5 years.
Alexa Buechler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 11:39 a.m. CT July 17, 2019 | Updated 6:32 p.m. CT July 17, 2019 Link here
Amtrak Hiawatha plans to increase the number of Milwaukee-Chicago round trips from seven to 10 in the next five years, officials announced Wednesday at a news conference at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station....

Plans call for the addition of one round trip in the next three years, followed by two more in the two years after that, according to Arun Rao, manager of passenger rail for the state Department of Transportation....

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Association of Commerce, talked about how Amtrak Hiawatha aids Milwaukee's businesses.

“This is a critically important part of Milwaukee’s economy,” Sheehy said. “We’re part of Chicago’s mega-region, which is one of the 10 largest economic regions in the country, and to put it simply: Commerce is about connections.”

He also said the connection helps companies, such as Baird, Johnson Controls, MillerCoors and many others....

There are three Wisconsin railroad infrastructure projects that need to be completed in order to accommodate the additional trains.

Amtrak will add a second platform at the Milwaukee Mitchell Airport Rail Station. It is estimated to be a $10 million project. A $5 million federal grant has been awarded for that project.

The Milwaukee Intermodal Station will need to install new traffic control equipment, work that is estimated to cost $5 million. A federal grant of $2.7 million has been awarded for that work.

Amtrak also wants new cars and coaches, which would cost $39 million. Amtrak officials have submitted a federal grant application for this as well.
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  #14845  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2019, 3:41 AM
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Excellent news. If they could speed up the train so it would take 1:15 or an hour that would be even better. Too bad Milwaukee doesn't have a regional rail system for connections...
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  #14846  
Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 1:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SIGSEGV View Post
Excellent news. If they could speed up the train so it would take 1:15 or an hour that would be even better. Too bad Milwaukee doesn't have a regional rail system for connections...
It does have a new streetcar like connecting the train station and the core of downtown, with plans for further expansion to some of the nearby neighborhoods.
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  #14847  
Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 3:51 PM
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https://www.chicagotribune.com/busin...2li-story.html
With Cook County’s help, South Siders could see lower fares on Metra
By Mary Wisniewski | Chicago Tribune | Jul 22, 2019 | 5:00 AM





For more than two decades, South Side community advocates have hoped for cheaper, more frequent Metra service to provide another transit option in areas without easy access to the “L.”

That dream may be finally coming true.

Metra is talking with Cook County, CTA and Pace about lowering fares on both the Metra Electric District and the Rock Island line, which run between downtown and the far South Side and south suburbs. Details are still being worked out... but for the first time, there’s a definite plan to make this happen.

The plan, as outlined in a new mobility study prepared by Cook County, is to lower fares on the Metra Electric District and Rock Island lines within the city to $2.50 — the same price as the “L" — from current Metra fares of $4 to $5.50. Fares also would be lowered between south suburban destinations and downtown, though the exact amounts are still being determined, according to John Yonan, superintendent of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways.

Under the proposed scenario, Metra trains would run more often, and Ventra cards could eventually would be used to provide free transfers between Pace, Metra and the CTA.
I can't believe this is finally moving forward... Kudos to Cook County Dept of Transportation for stepping forward to shepherd this and moving beyond just being a roads agency. In the past, it seemed like this kept failing because of a fundamental city-vs-suburb dynamic that was embedded in the structure of RTA and the three transit agencies. Cook County is the unique level of government that straddles the two. It will be an amazing irony if this ends up moving forward because of Toni Preckwinkle!

I guess this also explains plans to electrify Rock Island. With the Englewood Flyover being complete, RI also has full grade separation from other freight railroads except at 16th St next to The 78 site, is owned by Metra, and sees relatively little freight traffic... if it were electrified, it could be almost as robust a transit line as Metra Electric.

Funding for the subsidy and the capital improvements is yet to be identified, but if this can be substituted for all or part of the Red Line extension, that will be a far better use of that $2.3 billion.
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  #14848  
Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 10:06 PM
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Great news indeed. Hopefully, that will be the first step among others to integrating an RER style integrated transit system while also fending off the money pit that a far more expensive Red Line extension would cost.

I'd love to see Metra run a CTA-esque cost/services inside the city limits at least.
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  #14849  
Old Posted Jul 23, 2019, 9:06 PM
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Well, I'm not sure that's likely. But it does give me a chance to post my RER/S-bahn fantasy for Chicago.


Begin with 30-minute service on four lines, through-routed via the St. Charles Air Line and Union Station through tracks. This only requires three new turnouts. In Phase 2, an expensive new Munich-style tunnel under Clark and Chicago Ave. would give access to the heart of the Loop. Transfer stations (with timed meets) where the downtown routings cross give passengers their choice of Central Loop–River North or West Loop. O’Hare access is most expedient today via CP/NCS but may be more practical long-term via MD-W.
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  #14850  
Old Posted Jul 23, 2019, 11:25 PM
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It would seem to me that you could electrify the Blue Island branch probably for about $200M, buy a few of the more recently rehabbed AEM-7s from Amtrak at about 300K a unit, plunk down some Ventra hardware and be in business in less than a year.
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  #14851  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 2:28 AM
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It would seem to me that you could electrify the Blue Island branch probably for about $200M, buy a few of the more recently rehabbed AEM-7s from Amtrak at about 300K a unit, plunk down some Ventra hardware and be in business in less than a year.
The Blue Island branch (of MED) is already electrified. Do you mean the Rock Island?

Either way, I don’t see a reason to buy electric locos. It’s not like Metra has a huge fleet of brand new railcars, they’re old and creaky. Also, the RID doesn’t have any tunnel segments, the only reason to electrify is for better performance (acceleration) and electric locos offer a tiny fraction of the advantage afforded by EMUs.

Of course, I can’t think of a ready source for cheap, low-floor, FRA-compliant EMUs.... but if Metra wants to electrify Rock Island, they should plan their rolling stock purchases around the eventual goal of a new EMU fleet for Rock Island. Seems tailor-made for Stadler, especially if their Caltrain EMUs are well-received.
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  #14852  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
The Blue Island branch (of MED) is already electrified. Do you mean the Rock Island?

Either way, I don’t see a reason to buy electric locos. It’s not like Metra has a huge fleet of brand new railcars, they’re old and creaky. Also, the RID doesn’t have any tunnel segments, the only reason to electrify is for better performance (acceleration) and electric locos offer a tiny fraction of the advantage afforded by EMUs.

Of course, I can’t think of a ready source for cheap, low-floor, FRA-compliant EMUs.... but if Metra wants to electrify Rock Island, they should plan their rolling stock purchases around the eventual goal of a new EMU fleet for Rock Island. Seems tailor-made for Stadler, especially if their Caltrain EMUs are well-received.
Yes, the Rock Island.

Buying new EMUs will take several years. I’d be more interested in turning up electrified rapid service as quickly as possible. Presuming Caltrain’s Stadler order works out that would be ideal but I think I’d wait until they start running them to throw that cash down.
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  #14853  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 4:06 PM
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SWS definitely belongs in this discussion. Very little freight, and what conflicts there are will be resolved with the (now fully funded) 75th CIP. It will even be connected to the RI itself.

The 75th CIP would have to be revised to leave space for infill platforms in Auburn Gresham, but if it were revised, then it would add quite a lot of ridership to the line. Remember 79th is still the busiest bus route in the city.

Think of how beneficial it would be for those residents to have a fast, frequent, and inexpensive one-seat ride to the loop.
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  #14854  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 5:58 PM
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Yes, the Rock Island.

Buying new EMUs will take several years. I’d be more interested in turning up electrified rapid service as quickly as possible. Presuming Caltrain’s Stadler order works out that would be ideal but I think I’d wait until they start running them to throw that cash down.
But what, actually, is gained by electrifying RID and switching to electric locos? The performance benefits aren't that great vs EMUs in general, even assuming lightweight Euro or Asian coaches. In your scheme, you've still got to haul around the massively heavy gallery cars, so I'm not sure you could really call it rapid at that point. Assuming there isn't funding to convert RID to regional-rail standards all at once, I think upgrading to high platform (and sticking with diesel) would arguably be a better first step than electrification, since pax boarding would be so much faster. Existing Metra gallery cars could probably be converted for high-platform operation with a simple trapdoor, if you're looking to save on rolling stock.

Also, Rock Island doesn't go underground, so there's no pressing need to electrify unless you want the performance benefits of EMUs. Admittedly, there is the planned 1/2-mile tunnel at The 78, but that could simply be vented for diesel emissions the way Union Station is.
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  #14855  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 6:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
But what, actually, is gained by electrifying RID and switching to electric locos? The performance benefits aren't that great vs EMUs in general, even assuming lightweight Euro or Asian coaches. In your scheme, you've still got to haul around the massively heavy gallery cars, so I'm not sure you could really call it rapid at that point. Assuming there isn't funding to convert RID to regional-rail standards all at once, I think upgrading to high platform (and sticking with diesel) would arguably be a better first step than electrification, since pax boarding would be so much faster. Existing Metra gallery cars could probably be converted for high-platform operation with a simple trapdoor, if you're looking to save on rolling stock.

Also, Rock Island doesn't go underground, so there's no pressing need to electrify unless you want the performance benefits of EMUs. Admittedly, there is the planned 1/2-mile tunnel at The 78, but that could simply be vented for diesel emissions the way Union Station is.
The AEM-7s still have better acceleration than anything on Metra's loco roster AFAIK. Especially if operated in a two cab cofig. Metra would buy more EMUs at a later date but I'd strongly suspect their rolling stock priority will be new bilevel cars and diesels (both remanufactured and new). Which I'm kind of fine with since it would give Caltrain a chance to break in the Stadler KISS variants they've bought and see what problems, if any, they have.

Environmentally it certainly would be better to ditch the diesels ASAP and I'm not exactly a huge fan (har) of how the exhaust arrangement at Union has worked out. Even when Metra buys new-er engines they're still going to have a lot of low EPA tier power running around. Less of it sooner would be really good.

Edit: Though as Metra's relationship with Amtrak worsens they may not be available at an efficient price.
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  #14856  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2019, 8:41 PM
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I'd like to see Metra do what it can to keep the costs low for all railcar acquisitions until a real electrification program is underway. Buying brand new coaches just feels like a waste. Any electrification program should go straight to EMUs, as Caltrain has. The low-speed acceleration benefits are substantial enough that, in commuter service, it's basically pointless to go to the trouble of electrification without immediate plans to convert to EMUs. And if you can buy those EMUs just as you are retiring your old coaches, that saves you money on electrification - you get to subtract the cost of what it *would* have cost to replace your diesels and coaches.

So, to save money for now, buying Caltrain's fleet as they retire them. The oldest ones are about 35 years old, and the newest are about 20. They should be cheap but still have some life left. Their gallery cars and diesel engines are basically exact copies of what Metra is already running. Metra has a lot of experience in keeping them going. Yeah it ain't modern but it saves money on retooling maintenance shops, building up a new spare part inventory, and retraining employees on a new type of equipment. This is meant to be a stopgap, anyway. You want your equipment to be fully worn out by the time you buy EMUs.

At the same time, speed up the progress of electrification (from a starting speed of 0.) Start with RI as planned; all three branches. (yes, three; that includes SWS.) Gradually roll out electrification to the entire network over the course of the next 25 years, and as the Gallery fleet ages out, retire it and replace it with shiny new EMUs.
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  #14857  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2019, 9:52 PM
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For downtown segments, especially, reducing the air pollution is both an absolute good and a stated goal for the region. Nose is also reduced.

Curbed also had an article about Metra Electric fares being aligned with CTA:
https://chicago.curbed.com/2019/7/24...e-reduced-fare
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  #14858  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2019, 9:55 PM
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I like it, although if we're making tunnels, I think taking ME North through Streeterville, then West under Division, adding stops near Grand, Oak Street, Larrabee, and Goose Island to meet near the tracks by Clybourn would be a better long term goal, IMHO.

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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
Well, I'm not sure that's likely. But it does give me a chance to post my RER/S-bahn fantasy for Chicago.


...
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  #14859  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2019, 10:07 PM
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What do people think of using aerial gondolas to connect the Western stop on the Blue Line, the Clybourn Metra Station, Lincoln Yards, and the Fullerton Red/Brown/Purple stations? It would be relatively cheap, help Lincoln Yards, finally provide a connection between Bucktown and Lincoln Park. It could eventually be extended to the Lakefront on the east and the end of the 606 on the West of projected ridership was high enough, and also be a tourist attraction just for the spectacular views. I know there's be concerns about weather, but that doesn't seem insurmountable and it would be far cheaper than a Subway and certainly generate some great publicity for the City. In addition to the system in Colombia, New York has the Roosevelt Island tram, Portland has its riverfront one, so there is precedent, and New York's climate is comparable. Not to mention that Austria uses several for mountains, as do Germany and utter Central European countries. In function it would probably be most like Barcelona's Port Vell Aerial Tramway.
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  #14860  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2019, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by emathias View Post
What do people think of using aerial gondolas to connect the Western stop on the Blue Line, the Clybourn Metra Station, Lincoln Yards, and the Fullerton Red/Brown/Purple stations? It would be relatively cheap, help Lincoln Yards, finally provide a connection between Bucktown and Lincoln Park. It could eventually be extended to the Lakefront on the east and the end of the 606 on the West of projected ridership was high enough, and also be a tourist attraction just for the spectacular views. I know there's be concerns about weather, but that doesn't seem insurmountable and it would be far cheaper than a Subway and certainly generate some great publicity for the City. In addition to the system in Colombia, New York has the Roosevelt Island tram, Portland has its riverfront one, so there is precedent, and New York's climate is comparable. Not to mention that Austria uses several for mountains, as do Germany and utter Central European countries. In function it would probably be most like Barcelona's Port Vell Aerial Tramway.
Limited capacity passengers per hour and the absolute nuclear firestorm of homeowner opposition I think are problems with this.

Dedicated bus lanes would be much cheaper.
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