Originally Posted by Lukecuj
Booming South Shore Line to add rail cars
The double-deckers being considered would hold 148 passengers -- 15 more than current cars. Changes would have to be made at some stations to accommodate passengers on the higher level.
I'll bet the 133-passenger capacity of existing cars is based on the trailers with 3-2 seating and no restrooms. Those were a bad idea; you can board a train that is full of standees, and in those cars almost all the middle seats (about 26) will be unoccupied. Just look at one of those seats, and you'll get a look from the people on either side that lets you know you could die for just thinking about it. I suppose it's because the seats are narrow.
If the double-deckers provide better-quality seating they'd probably be utilized better, allowing more passengers to sit rather than stand. That would be a plus. The existing cars with 3-2 seating should be refitted with more comfortable 2-2 seating.
South Shore has added a lot of double track west of Dune Park. It might be a good idea to add some express service during peak hours; say, Randoph, Van Buren, Hammond, East Chicago, Dune Park, Michigan City, with alternate expresses stopping at Hegewisch instead of Hammond and Ogden Dunes instead of Dune Park.
I think they'd benefit, too, by installing 4-quadrant crossing gates along the long straightaway west of Michigan City and raising speeds. The cars are capable of 80 - 90 mph (I've seen 90 on the speed indicator in the cab), and much of the track is good for that kind of speed, but typical running speeds are in the 70 mph range. They need to provide better right-of-way protection between Bendix and the South Bend airport so they can make decent speeds between the airport station and the main line. Now, they crawl at car-traffic speeds or slower on that stretch.