A summary of this posting: 8-10 trains a day bypass Chicago by going from BNSF to NS at Streator, IL, and some trains connect between IAIS to NS at Peoria, IL.
I've done a couple of postings so far about the amount of train traffic through the Chicago area. There are two ways to address the capacity problem of the Chicago gateway -- increase the capacity and bypass Chicago. I had concluded that trains do not bypass Chicago because I read that the high-priority intermodal train from LA to NYC hands off from BNSF to NS through Ashland Yard and because the obvious bypass route had been abandoned. I'm happy to discover that I was too pessimistic about trains avoiding Chicago.
First of all, the abandoned track is the east part of the Kankakee Belt Route, which was the nickname for the Illinois Division of the New York Central Railroad. Since Norfolk Southern seems to have gotten the NYC part in the Chicago area when Conrail was split between NS and CSXT, this track is now owned by NS.
|Matt Lasayko posted|
I include Barry's list of connections to help me later research the railroads in Indiana. The connections of interest for NS would be the Nickel Plate. Unfortunately, Walkerton and Knox are both on the abandoned leg. In fact, South Bend to San Pierre are on the abandoned leg.
|South Bend, Indiana||New York Central and Grand Trunk Railway|
|North Liberty, Indiana||Wabash|
|Walkerton, Indiana||B&O and Nickel Plate|
|Knox, Indiana||Nickel Plate|
|North Judson, Indiana||Pennsylvania and Erie|
|San Pierre, Indiana||Monon|
|Schneider, Indiana||New York Central|
|Momence, Illinois||Chicago & Eastern Illinois|
|Kankakee, Illinois||Illinois Central and New York Central|
|Dwight, Illinois||GM&O (Alton)|
|Streator, Illinois||Santa Fe, Burlington|
|Lostant, Illinois||Illinois Central|
|Depue, Illinois||Rock Island|
|Ladd, Illinois||Northwestern, Milwaukee, LS&BC RR|
I studied the northbound route on Google Map. It intersects with the Monon (now CSXT) in St. John, Erie (just an industrial stub in town is left) and EJ&E in Schererville, GTW (now CN) in Highland, NKP (now NS) and IHB in Hammond. From IHB north the line is leased and operated by IHB. But the junction with NKP does not have a connection in the southeast quadrant. So I still don't understand how those 8-10 trains a day bypass Chicago. Update: They connect with the former NYC instead of the former NKP.
Another scenario of a train bypassing Chicago is documented on Flickr. It looks like a unit grain train that went east on the former Rock Island (now Iowa Interstate, IAIS) to Bureau Junction, IL, and then south on their branch to Peoria. Their system map shows that in Peoria the IAIS interconnects with TZPR, CN, NS, TPW, KJRY, UP, and BNSF. Below is the Chicago area of NS. (Update: NS wants IAIS trans to move from Peoria to Chicago to reduce the number of crews it needs to go to, if I remember correctly, Fort Wayne from three to two. But IAIS doesn't want to move. Probably because it would then have to go over track controlled by CSX and Metra.)
|NS .pdf file|
The train must have taken a former NKP route to Gibson City. Then it could use track-rights on the CN/IC to get back up to Kankakee where it can use the Kankaee Belt Route bypass. It is too bad the track for the Kankakee and Seneca was torn up, it would have provided a much less circuitous route between IAIS and NS.
Now that I have discovered that NS .pdf map, I can better analyze the northern leg of the Kankakee Belt Route. Below are excerpts from their system map and their Chicago inset.
|NS .pdf file|
|NS .pdf file|
A nice collection of historic and 2004 pictures for the Kankakee Belt Route.
Adam Elias posted the comment "BNSF 5450; NS 8101 (COG Heritage); On NS 31K clear of Chesterton at 11:33." The comments indicate that at Porter Junction the train leaves the NS Chicago line and takes the CSX Porter Branch (formerly the Michigan Central). Matthew Ginkel provided a link to a map showing current (2016) ownership and commented: "It takes the Green, to the Purple, to the Blue typically, or Green to orange to blue."