Both paths to Blue Island from downtown Chicago via METRA offer express options. Electric trains often run express from Kensington to Randolph Street Station after exiting the painfully slow Blue Island branch, and Rock Island trains that travel the Main Line between Blue Island and Gresham Jct also bypass the closely spaced stops through Beverly.
Furthermore, with the replacement of the old METRA Highliners now complete, all Electric Division trains now offer railfan windows in both direction and, of course, the push-pull trains offer a railfan view on inbound trips. I was able to string together a wonderful pair of trains that provided a full RFW round trip express run. Outbound, I caught an early morning reverse peak express to Blue Island, basically a deadhead move that bothered to collect a few extra fares. Inbound I caught the last Joliet Express of the morning.
Here is the Electric Line express run from Randolph Street to Kensington. Other stops included Van Buren, Roosebelt, 57th St, 63rd St and Kensington. This video was shot with a GoPro cupped under my hand as I stood at the front RWF to avoid any issues with the crew. Check out around the 14:00 mark for one of the last Highliner trainsets still in service.
This second video is far less exciting and shows the METRA Electric Blue Island branch. This is a single track branch with a single passing siding at Pullman. Trains move via the Controlled Block system, which is basically APB. No dispatcher intervention is needed to switch traffic or display signals. All the stops are flag stops and with few passengers, few stops are made, however since we were then running early there was a bit of a delay at Pullman waiting for the inbound train to pass. Also note the wheel screech on the sharp curve entering the branch.
Finally here is the inbound Rock Island express trains. It makes the two stops between Blue Island and Gresham as well as 35th Street near the White Sox Stadium. This was shot with my usual still camera. Note towards the end the train passing through the famous 16TH ST crossing interlocking with its 1902 vintage interlocking tower. Also note the lineup of MP36PH-3 power at La Salle St Station.
Well that's it for this week. Next time we check in with Ye Olde Baltimore Streetcar Museum.