Tuesday, March 22, 2016

CRL: Chicago Rail Link


Chicago Rail Link (CRL) took over the freight operations of Rock Island when Metra took over the commuter service to Joliet. (CSX does the freight further west of Joliet and Interstate Iowa handles the rest of Rock Island's Illinois route as well as Iowa. The boundary between CSX and IAIS operations keeps moving east as the Class I CSX becomes less interested in running local trains.) CRL has also taken over operations for other remnants of railroads down by the Calumet Lake region.

A history provided by UP:
This company was originally the LaSalle & Bureau County Railway, which was organized August 29, 1890. The Chicago area trackage was acquired from the CRI&P around 1980, and the present name adopted May 1, 1985. The original L&BC route was between LaSalle and Midway, Illinois, has since been abandoned. CRL merged with Chicago, West Pullman & Southern (CWP) on August 15, 1996, and CRL is the surviving company. The company is a subsidiary of OmniTRAX.
The green rectangle in the map below indicates that they are trying to sell the land where the track has been torn up in Blue Island YardShortline has a detailed map that shows CRL uses the Root Street Junction interchange track to access the former NYC/Chicago Junction/Union Stock Yard and Transit Company to access the Ashland Avenue Yard and it uses the connector in the southwest quadrant of the 16th Street Junction to use the St. Charles Air Line to Wood Street and Western Avenue Yards.
They are working with the FRA to test an improved grade crossing technology at their 104th Street crossing. Specifically, it senses an approaching train using sound and vibrations instead of track circuits. This history of signalling video explains what a track circuit is.

Craig Cloud posted this 11th photo in a set
Ever been to Irondale? The CNW reched via BRC I think, sitting next to CNW depot 1042 and 59, rare to see a geep with dynamics, most removed during rebuild.
Kevin Piper posted
What makes this photo interesting to me is I caught the best and the worst together. SW9 51 was the absolute nicest EMD switcher I ever ran, but SW1200 6 was nothing but bad. The 51 came to CRL from CWP&S, and had a well-maintained polished brass 6BL brake valve, great hot water heat, could pull like the Devil, and even had oak flooring and stained woodwork in the cab. Now the 6 on the other hand was leased from Relco and was loaded with electrical and mechanical problems too numerous to list. It could not pull its own weight, and lasted less than a month at CRL. All old EMD's are not equal! Chicago, IL, 8-10-89.
Michael Riha posted
With the shutdown and liquidation of the Rock Island in 1980, the railroad was broken up into many pieces and those pieces were either picked up by operators or abandoned. The Chicago-area commuter district went to a local government entity (Regional Transportation Authority,) but the remaining freight customers on that line, along with those in the Lake Calumet industrial area, were awarded to a shortline: the LaSalle & Bureau County. When the LS&BC soon abandoned their original line in the Illinois River Valley, they renamed their Chicago operations "Chicago Rail Link."
Fast forward to 2017, and CRL is now an OmniTrax property and still services a lumber yard in suburban Mokena. Where "Rockets" once ran, two former Canadian GP40-2w take an empty back to the yard after dropping off some loads. (Photo at Metra's Hickory Creek station in Mokena, IL)
Doug Kaniuk info: http://casr.dhke.com/casr260.htm (has maps)
Gary Pyke posted
HBR on 104th Street in Chicago. 3/23/2018
Craig Cloud Irondale? CNW had facility 104th and Torrance been there photographed two CRL geeps back in 1990's
Gary Pyke Yes between Torrence and Commercial right across from the Foodliner Terminal.
Dennis DeBruler What does HBR stand for?
Gary Pyke Hudson Bay Railway.
Dennis DeBruler Now I understand, it is a "sister" Omnitrax railroad: http://omnitrax.com/our-company/our-railroads/
I count at least nine locomotives in this image.
Kevin Piper posted
When I arrived at CRL in 1987, I was greeted with former RI GP18's 14 & 15. They were no longer true GP18's, having been rebuilt by Chrome Locomotive with GP9 prime movers, and rated at 1750 HP. 14 & 15 were the backbone of Blue Island freight operations, and I did some tremendous things with them, like often moving 75 cars of grain from downtown Chicago to Calumet port elevators. 14, the "Blouke Carus" was my favorite because it carried its original Nathan P5 horn. It got sick with a burned out traction motor by 1994. CRL mechanics were "right out of the comic strip", and limped it along with only three motors for years until it was retired. Blue Island, IL, 9-20-88.
Nhat Quan V. Do Kevin where did you pick the grain up from? BNSF?
Kevin Piper C&NW at Wood Street.

Joseph Cermak shared a photo link with the comment: "The Chicago Rail Link lumber turn passes under Rock Island signals at Robbins, IL" So CRL handles freight on the Metra owned part of the former Rock Island as well as on its own RI remnant. Since the feds have cut funding for commuter lines that used to help ease the congestion on the highways, it looks like Metra has yet to start installing PTC compatible signals. It is taking a centerbeam lumber car to Schillings. Like the "BNSF flour local," it uses two locomotives so that it can run in push-pull mode.

Joseph Cermak shared a photo link at the lumber yard lead.

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