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Saturday, June 22, 2013

13-06-22 PHOTOS: METRA UP West Chicago

Well it is intermission time in my third annual cross country Amtrak trip featuring Train 4, the Southwest Chief. This year the target of my Chicago layover was JB Tower in West Chicago where the EJE Main Line crosses the Three Track former CNW "UP West" main line at grade. However one must still eat and see old friends in the Windy Apple, not to mention kill any time waiting to eat and meet old friends. This is why there are also going to be a good deal of CTA photos included in this set.

You can view all the photos here.

We begin with a video this time. While catching a Purple Line Express for a short loop trip I discovered that the rear cabs of the 4-car trains are halved by default so I decided to catch one and film a reverse RFW video all the way from Merchandise Mart to Howard. Unfortunately I would soon discover that what would be a rocket fast express run is barely faster than a local due to mile after mile of baffling speed restriction. WTF CTA?

Returning from Howard I took still images including this one of a northbound Red Line local train with 2600-series #2878.

Northbound Purple Line express train with 2400-series #2510.

Southbound Red Line local train being passed at Sheridan.

Northbound 5000-series Red Line train at BELMONT interlocking.

Interested in what a brand new 5000-series truck looks like? Too bad. See on #5256 at Belmont.

2600-series and 5000-series Red Line trains pass at Belmont.

WTF...Red Line trains running on the Green Line? What kind of crazy mixed up world is this! Train announcement board at 35 Bronzeville IIT.

Ok now this is just silly. Express service on the Green Line?!?!

The next morning I was walking from my hotel to the CNW Station when I passed the location of the now demolished Lake St tower which was sacrificed for some sort of new high rise.

Some Green Line trains passing eachother on the Lake Street Bridge.

Departing the CNW station on one of the 2-hourly trains out to Elmhurst we passed a lone F40PH #176 hanging out in LAKE ST interlocking.

Video from the rear RFW of the train from HALSTEAD to KEDZIE interlockings before I figured out that the "florescent" white balance setting would defeat the green METRA tint.

METRA Cab Car #8449 on the island platform at West Chicago. The train is not wrong railing as the CNW runs left handed.

UP GP15-1 #Y702 with a short MoW train to facilitate trackwork further to the east.

MoPac caboose #7504 now in MoW service.

Here is the new westbound home signal bridge for JB Tower. The classic CNW era signal bridges were recently removed, but the EJE operated tower remains in service with an early GRS/Taylor Model 2 interlocking machine inside. 

JB Tower with the operator visible through the door.

Unbeknownst to me this was actually the morning that the eastbound CNW signal bridge was scheduled to be removed and the lifting crane and cutting crews were out in force.

Some video of the cutting process.

JB Tower looking northbound along the EJE Main showing the 1x3 diamonds. The J was recently purchased by Canadian National to connect with its former Illinois Central lines.

A Clear signal appeared on the southbound EJE signal indicating that I would be treated to a freight train before my return METRA trip arrived ay the end of my hour layover.

Diamonds take a lot of damage and in addition to new signal bridges, JB was slated to get a fresh set of diamonds.

As I was getting worried about making my connection and being stuck in West Chicago for an additional 2 hours, the CN freight train arrived with C44-9W #2722 in the lead and 2527 in the #2 slot.

Video of the doublestack wells as they pound the possibly unique 3x1 diamonds.

I was just about to run back to catch my train when I saw that the MoW crews were going ahead with the signal bridge lift, even though the METRA was due in less than 10 minutes.

Video clip of the lift.

Not to fear, a good number of ex-CNW signal bridges still stand, like this one at TURNER interlocking displaying a Diverging Clear on track 1.

My inbound train used the same trainset as my outbound train. As it rounded the curve I discovered it has a mix of new Nippons, stainless steel Budds and a few old painted Pullmans.

METRA #8449 again back at West Chicago. The crowds were for an afternoon Cubs game.

Weekend MoW work resulted in lots of wrong (in the CNW context at least) railing. Here is a video montage of all the diverging movements that our train made while inbound from West Chicago. First clip is from TURNER interlocking just east ob JB tower still equipped with classic CNW signal bridges and newer 50mph turnouts. Next are crews working on the new WHEATON interlocking. This used to be in the section of "562" territory that used the CNW ATC system without wayside signals. Next we take the 50mph ladder back across to the proper track at the also new GRACE interlocking passing a UP freight train on the way out. Finally we cross back over to wrong rail again at 25th Ave where the 3-track line shrinks back to 2-tracks temporarily. BTW I learned the trick to shooting through tinted METRA windows is to use a Florescent white balance setting.

Passing westbound UP freight train with SD70M #4940 at Lombard.

Metra F40PH #152 with outbound train at Villa Park. 

UP power at Proviso Yard.

Work continues at Provo Junction to complete the new Indiana Harbor Belt connection as well as extending the third track all the way to 25th St interlocking.

Brand new 5000-series car #5085 in the Harlem Yard.

Here is a video from Oak Park all the way to the CNW terminal. Sorry for the zooming, but I fucked something up with my camera which affected the focus at certain zoom levels. The problem would only be fixed by power cycling the camera.

Restricting signal over a slow speed switch at KEDZIE interlocking.

On the way back from the CNW station I cause MP36PH-3S #415 arriving into Union Station with a Milwaukee district train. 

I had one last trip to take before catching the eastbound Capitol Limited ~5:30pm and that was to go see another friend at a hipster pie place called Bang Bang Pie which was in walking distance of the California Ave Blue Line station. Mmmmm, pie. Here we see 2600-series unit #3005 arriving at California.

Another 2600-series unit, #2610, arriving at California on an outbound train.

Well I'll finish off with this picture of Union Station with the Sears Tower in the background. Doesn't get much more "Chicago" than that.

Well that's it for the Chicago Layover. Next week tune back in for the 11th and final part of my 3th annual Amtrak cross country trip as I take the Capitol Limited to Washington, DC.

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