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Friday, December 2, 2016

16-12-02 VIDEOS: North Central Races

So the video portion of my Chicago trip will include my morning round trip into Union Station via METRA's North Central Service. This commuter rail service was resurrected in 1996 on former Soo Line tracks then owned by the Wisconsin Central. In 2001 ownership passed to Canadian National with METRA operating as a guest using their own crews. A downside of METRA operated trains is that Metra's own crews will close off the front car with the railfan window outside of peak periods. This is one major reason I seek out opportunities to travel inbound towards Chicago during the rush.

I'll actually first want to begin with a video taken from the rear of my Capitol Limited train shortly after departing Washington, DC. I was able to record from Kensington to Germantown on the CSX Metropolitan Sub before rain covered the rear window and I completely lost light.

I started my trip at the O'Hare Transfer METRA station. While METRA is faster than a comparable CTA Blue Line trip, the service is much less frequent and requires a shuttle bus connection.

My inbound train was led by an 8500 series gallery cab car.

There are actually two morning express runs scheduled just a few minutes apart and I accidentally got on the first of the two when I had intended to ride the second. While the first train, #106, made an additional stop at River Grove, it turned out to be a much better ride. This is because #106 is scheduled to "race" inbound Milwaukee-West line train #2216 immediately after it rounds the North Central connection at Tower B-12. Despite our stop we not only managed to catch the MILW-West train, but also passed it heading into big junction at Western Ave!

Also note the unique *Y*/G Advance Approach Diverging signal indication that was installed on the line during a recent re-signaling project.

At Tower A-2 we were stopped to wait for crossing traffic on the UP-West line.

Just like a drag race the operator at Tower A-2 gave trains #106 and #2216 side-by-side Clear signal indications and we were off to the races again. This time my train stayed in the lead, but was ultimately stopped at Union Station while #2216 was allowed to go in ahead of us because my train #106 was early.

Unfortunately, the approach to the north side of Chicago Union Station has been overbuilt for a new urban park. Maybe cities should realize that watching trains is a form of recreation :-(

As expected, on the return the rear-facing cab car was closed and I pretty much had nothing to do. Getting off at the Rosemont, IL station I grabbed this shot of METRA cab car #8502 as it passed through CN JCT 19 interlocking.

Well that's everything I have for this video supplement. Next week it will be time for the 2016 SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip!

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