Friday, March 6, 2015

BNSF Inspection Train and Chicago Bypass

Photo by Mike Matalis
Mike Matalis reports an interesting posting on Trainorders concerning a four car inspection train. I do not have a login for Trainorders to keep track of what the public can view, so I found Don Kalkman's original pictures on Flickr, both coming and going.
Photo by Mike Matalis
Mike lists the consist as:
11:40 a.m. – Downers Grove IL / Main St
BNSF w/b inspection train – Train O CHCTOP
BNSF 8766 SD70ACe
BNSF 52      Mt Baker – power car
BNSF 66      Cajon Pass – sleeper
BNSF 6        Topeka – business car
BNSF 30      Glacier View – full dome/theater lounge

Using information from the above Trainorders posting and "BNSF Varnish Around Chicago...", I tried to identify the route the inspection train took around Chicago. Speculation is that railroad executives were finally trying to figure out better ways of routing trains through/around Chicago.

On January 27, 2015, the train left the former-Santa Fe route of the BNSF at Streator, IL to go west on the NS/NYC/Kankakee Belt Route(KBR) to Schneider, IN. The Trainorders posting said it went to Gibson, IN, but Google can't find that town. I believe it went north to Gibson Yard in Hammond, IN, which is an Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) yard. (It now is the reclassification yard for all auto trains that come to the Chicago area.) It then went west on IHB to its northern terminus and went westish to the CP/SOO/Milwaukee Road Bensenville Yard where it tied up for the night.

I assume the inspection train went no faster over the IHB than do the freight trains since it appears to have taken a significant fraction of a day to make that trip. Since one of the cars was a business car, I assume lunch was served on the train. If they did not go as slow as the freight trains, it would have invalidated the evaluation of using that route for freight trains. Whenever I see a freight train on the IHB, it seems to be doing about 10 mph.

On January 28, 2015, it left the Bensenville Yard at sunrise heading eastish to the Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC) at Cragin Junction. It then took the BRC south and east to its eastern terminus --- South Chicago Yard.
Then it took the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line southeasterly to the Fort Wayne Tower Junction (detail on the right where I found this junction) where it headed south on the IHB to Gibson Yard and headed west again on IHB. This time it left the IHB in Dolton, IL, to jog northwest on the B&OCT (a subsididary of CSX) to connect with the BNSF/CB&Q to leave  the Chicago area on the BNSF/CB&Q Racetrack at passenger train speeds where Mike caught the above two photos in Downers Grove, IL. (Freights run fast on the Racetrack, but they are not allowed to run during the morning and afternoon commuter rush hours.)

It seems to me that they should have thought about how to run trains around Chicago before CREATE started spending billions of dollars to run trains through Chicago. And how expensive would it be to rebuild the old railroads that would have allowed them to bypass Chicago at high speeds such as the Kankakee and Seneca and/or the Indiana, Illinois & Iowa, or at least the KBR remnant with the eastern part restored? After all, we are talking about billions of dollars being spent to remove the Chicago bottleneck.

BNSF Subdivisions
I learned today from some Facebook comments that some trains from Minnesota get off of the Aurora subdivision to take the Barstow subdivision down to Galesburg so that they can take the Chillicothe subdivision to Streator and the KBR to bypass Chicago. 
HU report: NS 8025 Monongahela second out facing the rear on an eastbound train through Clear Lake, MN 5:20 pm CST....Won't take the C&I, going to the Chillicothe to Streator.
B&OCT Map: red denotes CSX tracks on this map
I read this week that CSX has the Michigan Central remnant that ran between the KBR at "Gibson" and the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line in Porter, IN and that they run some trains from BNSF and UP over that remnant. I studied the B&OCT Map and noticed that CSX has rights over NS's "Kankakee Branch" to Schneider, IN. But IHB creates a gap for both NS and CSX between the Kankakee Branch and their main east/west lines. I bet both railroads now wish NYC, Penn Central, Conrail or NS did not tear up the east part of the KBR.

Just hours after writing the above concerning the CSX MC remnant, I read:

A vestige of the Michigan Central is the Perter Subdivision from Indiana Harbor Belt's Gibson Yard toward Willow Creek. In addition to CSX's own freight, this line accommodates Norfolk Southern trains running form Porter Junction to NS's Kankakee Line south of Gibson. (America's Rail Capital, p 163)

1 comment:

  1. if you are still looking for Gibson, IN look up prinecton in gibson is the county