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 Post subject: US Mass Transit - the Electric Train PostPosted: 2007-08-04 03:53pm
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This links to the thread in SLAM about possible post-PO technologies and systems, but it's here 'cause it's lot of pictures.

Contrary to rumor, mass transit DOES exist in the US. And, as we were discussing electric powered trains and I just happen to one such to work every day (well, every work day) I thought it would be interesting to add to the discussion.

The train line in question is the South Shore and South Bend railroad, which is not exlusively a passenger line - it's a real railroad that also runs frieght over the same rails although the frieght trains are pulled by diesels for reasons I won't address in this post. This railroad has its originas in the 19th Century and currently linked South Bend, Indiana to the Chicago Loop along the south shoreline of Lake Michigan (hence the name).

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This is the train pulling into the station. As you can see, along this portion it travels along a viaduct which has been raised above ground level. This eliminates many grade-level crossings which increases safety and allows for a higher speed. This is not the case everywhere on the line - in Michigan City, Indiana the train goes down the middle of the streets like an oversized trolley. :shock: Very few accidents, depsite that. One day I'll ride it down that way and take some pictures.

Anyhow - the square superstructes support the overhead catenary wires, which is how current is delivered to the train. There are some definite drawbacks to this system, as well as some plusses, and it might be interesting to discuss possible alternatives. We're stuck with it, though, due to historical reasons. Current is transmitted from the catenary to the train itself through the pantographs, the folding structures on the roof of the trains.

Although the train itself is new, and much of the other hardware has been replaced through maintenance, the technology is really 19th Century - yet it still works.

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And yes, here in the US we even link multiple transit systems! Note that not only is a passenger being dropped off, but there is a bus stop here as well as parking racks for bicycles. This station also has space dediated to motorcycle and carpool van parking to allow multiple means of getting to this train. This is vital to any rail mass transit - trains are only practical if used by a LOT of people on a regular basis. You can to make sure the passengers can get to the station.

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This is about 1/4 of the parking facilities on the main lot. I just couldn't fit it all into one picture. In addition to this lot there is another. They are full every day, and sometimes run out of space (in a country that loves it's cars, SUV's, and trucks!) These are cars that are NOT driving 40 miles on the road twice a day - which adds up over the course of years.

This parking lot happens to be free (actually, maintenance costs are taken from ticket fares, so every ride you pay something towards it). Others on the line charge $.50 to park for the day.

There is also a police station incorporated into the station, which provides a nice level of security which is good for those of us using it either very early or very late in the day.

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This illustrates some of the energy-saving features built into this structure from the design stage (the station is less than five years old). I wish I could have shown you the ceiling fans in the lower station, to provide air circulation and cooling in summer, but the pictures didn't come out and in the post-9/11 world people can get weird about even a regular commuter photographing a train station. However, this photo illustrates the abundant natural lighting, and the use of windows that can be opend to provide air circulation and avoid the use of powered air conditioning in summer. Even with our recent 30 C temperatures it has remained tolerable in this area. In winter, all the glass provides a very nice greenhouse effect which eliminates the need for a lot of heating, although heat lamps are available and visible on the ceiling on the left. There are a couple more such structures along the track, providing shelter in poor/cold/hot weather.

This also illustrates the pairing of highway and rail line. However, this rail line was NOT built in a freeway median - instead the freeway (which was built decades after the rail line) has taken over the rail right-of-way (and a little extra). There is no reason these two systems can't exist in parallel.

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Here's a view from the platform, with the train approaching visible down the track. More views of the catenary and support, as well as the yellow, textured safety zone. This is a rubberized material over concrete, which protects the edge of the plaform and provides stable footing in winter with less cleaning and salting needed.

In sum, the technology for electric passenger rail is still alive in the US and is being used even now. When the price of gas goes up so does ridership. The relationship is such that the controlling agency even has a pretty good idea of the number of addtional pasengers to expect in a day by how much the price increases. If oil continues to rise in price I would expect to see this system utilized even more heavily.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice


Last edited by Broomstick on 2007-08-04 04:12pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: US Mass Transit - the Electric Train PostPosted: 2007-08-04 11:36pm
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Broomstick wrote:
Contrary to rumor, mass transit DOES exist in the US. And, as we were discussing electric powered trains and I just happen to one such to work every day (well, every work day) I thought it would be interesting to add to the discussion.

The train line in question is the South Shore and South Bend railroad, which is not exlusively a passenger line - it's a real railroad that also runs frieght over the same rails although the frieght trains are pulled by diesels for reasons I won't address in this post. This railroad has its originas in the 19th Century and currently linked South Bend, Indiana to the Chicago Loop along the south shoreline of Lake Michigan (hence the name).


The South Shore Line is to be honest only one of few, there aren't many interurban rail systems in the US

Quote:
in Michigan City, Indiana the train goes down the middle of the streets like an oversized trolley. :shock: Very few accidents, depsite that. One day I'll ride it down that way and take some pictures.


Michigan City is a small town and there isn't much traffic, the novelty does where off after a couple trips

Quote:
And yes, here in the US we even link multiple transit systems! Note that not only is a passenger being dropped off, but there is a bus stop here as well as parking racks for bicycles. This station also has space dediated to motorcycle and carpool van parking to allow multiple means of getting to this train. This is vital to any rail mass transit - trains are only practical if used by a LOT of people on a regular basis. You can to make sure the passengers can get to the station.


Somehow you forgot to mention that the South Shore stops at Gary/Chicago Airport and South Bend regional airport.

Also of note from any of the Chicago stops you have the option of using the purely Illonois Metra railroad

Quote:
There is also a police station incorporated into the station, which provides a nice level of security which is good for those of us using it either very early or very late in the day.


East Chicago, right?

A couple of the stations are not in the best of nieghborhoods

Quote:
This illustrates some of the energy-saving features built into this structure from the design stage (the station is less than five years old).


It's far older than that, the East Chicago station was renovated

Prior to the renovation the most charming feature was the aroma of urine

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 Post subject: Re: US Mass Transit - the Electric Train PostPosted: 2007-08-05 06:35am
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FedRebel wrote:
The South Shore Line is to be honest only one of few, there aren't many interurban rail systems in the US

There used to be more - once the automobile arrived the only places these systems could survive is where there was sufficient ridership to make the economically viable. (Note: I did not say profitable)

I don't know if you read the other thread, but a number of people said such a system wasn't viable. The fact this one exists shows that it is. That doesn't mean it is commonly done, or couldn't be done better.

Quote:
Quote:
in Michigan City, Indiana the train goes down the middle of the streets like an oversized trolley. :shock: Very few accidents, depsite that. One day I'll ride it down that way and take some pictures.

Michigan City is a small town and there isn't much traffic, the novelty does where off after a couple trips

And yet the Metra in the Chicago northwest suburbs seems to squash a customer about once a month in areas of similar population, despite fences, gates, and various warning devices. How does Michigan City avoid this?

Quote:
Somehow you forgot to mention that the South Shore stops at Gary/Chicago Airport and South Bend regional airport.

I was making a point about daily commuting. Most people don't commute to the airport daily (although some do).

Also, it does NOT stop at the Gary Airport. There is a bus running from the Clark Road station (which is a flag stop, looks like a cheap bus shelter, and is in an area I wouldn't be comfortable waiting for a train on the return trip) to the airport but unlike South Bend the station is not on the airport grounds. I'd like to see them run a bus from the East Chicago station, or both that and Gary Metro

Quote:
Also of note from any of the Chicago stops you have the option of using the purely Illonois Metra railroad

True.

Quote:
Quote:
There is also a police station incorporated into the station, which provides a nice level of security which is good for those of us using it either very early or very late in the day.


East Chicago, right?

A couple of the stations are not in the best of nieghborhoods

True. East Chicago isn't too bad, but the fact there are quite a few people going in and out attracts a certain type of predator. The first week the new station was open we had a purse snatching on the platform (the guy targeted the woman at the back of the crowd). A cop on the ground saw it and they ran him down - haven't had much problem since.

Quote:
Quote:
This illustrates some of the energy-saving features built into this structure from the design stage (the station is less than five years old).


It's far older than that, the East Chicago station was renovated

Sorry if that wasn't clear - the stop is quite old. The station house and platform are the new parts.

Quote:
Prior to the renovation the most charming feature was the aroma of urine

And why do people feel compelled to piss in corners? The old station did have toilets.

The new station also has toilets, although they're a little easier to find. The station is also unadorned concrete. Not wonderfully attractive, but it IS easy to keep clean and the floors are washed down every day after the 8:10 am train.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-08-05 12:56pm
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There supposedly plans to electrify most of the lines over here in the UK, although so far it's all those northern route getting it (one assumes waves regularly crashing across the tracks is not for the leccy, but that's just daft, right? :P )



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Last edited by Dartzap on 2007-08-05 01:53pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: US Mass Transit - the Electric Train PostPosted: 2007-08-05 01:52pm
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Broomstick wrote:
FedRebel wrote:
The South Shore Line is to be honest only one of few, there aren't many interurban rail systems in the US

There used to be more - once the automobile arrived the only places these systems could survive is where there was sufficient ridership to make the economically viable. (Note: I did not say profitable)

I don't know if you read the other thread, but a number of people said such a system wasn't viable. The fact this one exists shows that it is. That doesn't mean it is commonly done, or couldn't be done better.


We have an interurban (of sorts) rail system in Denver as well. Our light rail system covers a good chunk of the city and it gets you to most places fairly quicker than the bus system will. Plus it has more lines in development, and several newer ones got added in recently. (Including one near my apartment). It's one of those things we really do need more of given how quick they get you from place to place, although rush hour can be decidedly cramped.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-08-05 08:40pm
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Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, NYC Subway, PATH,...Combine and form....

MTA RAILROADs

Ok, after that, I will laugh at Chicago, because down here, Our Mass Transit is superior. We have hmm.. The LIRR which is the buiest Class II Rail network in America, serving Long Island with Electric Third Rail, and Diesel lines to New York City,The Subway, Which is the largest system in the world, PATH, which links New Jersey Customers to New York, The Metro North, Which connects the Hudson River Valley, and Connecticut to the City, As well as some New Jersey Transit rails, and Several Airtrains, which go from the John F Kennedy Airport to Several Commuter and Subway stations.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-08-05 08:59pm
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Just so people have an idea of what Denver's system looks like. . . .

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"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

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