Monday, March 6, 2017

BNSF/CB&Q Chicago Commuter Train (14th Street) Yard

(Update: the other terminal yard for this commuter service is in Aurora.)

David Ingles, the editor of TRAINS magazine, coined the term Zephyr Pit. Railroad workers referred to this yard as "the Ramp," "the House" or the BN coach yard. Photos of the old service engine facility have their own notes.

Steven J. Brown posted two photos with the comment:
I get a now and then, twenty-nine years apart, AND a twenty-nine years ago today out of this post!
The Zephyr Pit in Chicago last week, February 24, 2017 and twenty-nine years ago today March 4, 1988! (Yes, I will ALWAYS call it the Zephyr Pit.)
1: BNSF line Metra trains in the Zephyr Pit, Chicago - February 24, 2017.

2: The fleet is in! Burlington Northern E's in the Zephyr Pit, Chicago - March 4, 1988.
Matt McClure 29 years ago the giant, rounded REA building existed just north of the commuter yard too. And the tower at Taylor Street. Miss them as well.
Jim Shaw What purpose did those two multi story BN buildings serve?
Bryan Howell Crooks Terminal Warehouses. The Q used some of the space for records storage. Some of which were saved but now languish in a leaky baggage car.
William A. Shaffer posted
The Metra Fleet at High Noon
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)

Philip M. Goldstein commented on a post
Candystripers @ METRA Chicago Yard, taken from the Michael's parking lot ramp (actually shooting under Roosevelt Ave overpass) - 5/29/2013.

Timothy Leppert posted two photos with the comment:
These photos are when BN1 - 2 - 3 were earning a living on the BN. This was a CEO Grinstein - 1985 to 1995 - business train leaving Chicago Westbound. The second photo shows part of the train from the BN Yardmasters office. It had about 10 cars with the new paint scheme. There are some great stories about rebuilding our BN Business Car Fleet. Train departed on time..........naturally.
Augusta Wind With BN3 in the train, this may have been the Winter Park Colorado trip.
Don Sands II At least one of the F Units is at The Illinois Railway Museum. One picture showed it was originally a Boston&Maine.


Tom Bedwell posted two photos with the comment: " Here are a couple I took in the 1950’s. In Chicago."


Dennis DeBruler commented on Tom's posting
I assume the big smokestack on the small building is a heating plant that generated steam for the parked coaches back when they were steam heated. Now the commuter yards (both Aurora (Hill) and Chicago) have a couple of bridges over all of the tracks with an "extension cord" for each track to provide electricity when they are parked.
Tom Bedwell posted
[Tom caught another view of the commuter yard while catching a train leaving CUS.]
ShutterStock from FreightWaves
BNSF bumps up spending on expansion projects this year as intermodal business grows
[It was a silly photo to choose given the subject of the article. But it was great for these notes. The southern yard at the top of the photo is called Yard A and the northern yard is called Yard B.]
"Track maintenance remains the largest part of BNSF’s program at $2.47 billion, roughly flat since 2017....A record year for container movements into the U.S. West Coast pushed more domestic and international containers onto the rail."
[I wonder if the increase is because of suppliers trying to beat the tarrifs. Also, it appears the bigger Panama Canal has yet to impact transcon traffic. Can the west coast ports handle the new Panama Canal ships? East coast ports are still building to handle the bigger Panama ships.]

20170421 8728
Parked in the service area is a jet to help clear the many switches in this yard.

William Brown posted this photo to four groups. I saved all four links because of the different comments in each group.

The Zephyr Pit outside Chicago Union Station in September of 1981. Anyone familiar with the facility/ Is this the Cleaning Track and are the trains in the background waiting to be cleaned?
Friends of BNSF:
Patrick Cunningham Not a lot of change. Metra uses these tracks to store commuter trains during the day. They are cleaned and serviced. Engines are usually uncoupled and taken for service as well. Metra trains here run on the BNSF, Heritage Corridor, and Southwest Service. Metra has a repair shop here as well. At far left are Amtrak servicing facilities. Here's a quick ground level view:
Dennis DeBruler I don't know what it was like in 1981, but now the cleaning facility is further north on "Track 0." I'm under the impression that they are cleaned on there way to the station and then staged on Track 0 until a platform track opens up.!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
Bob Dietz The outside of the cars get washed a couple of times a week. The inside of the cars are cleaned daily in the A or B yards. The motors are cut away and serviced in the two service tracks.
[The outside is cleaned each day according to Joseph below. He is a BNSF engineer.]

BNSF Racetrack:
Joseph Robert LeMay Well, they are all cleaned on the inside by the coach cleaners on these tracks. The car wash, if it was in the same place then as it is now, is north of Roosevelt. Trains go through the wash as they exit CUS and enter the yard after their morning runs.

Railroad History Buffs of Illinois:
Steve Malachinski It is where inbound trains are serviced and held until needed for the evening rush.

Chicago Area Railroad Historians:
Seth Lakin The Zephyr Pit is broken up into two the Northern one is B yard, the one in the background is A yard. Each have their own yard ladders on each end. Today there are 13 servicing tracks in B yard, I think 12 in A yard. They are numbered from the main on the left in this photo. Trains pull in to their assigned tracks cut the engine off and set it off to the diesel servicing tracks. Carmen and coach cleaners work the trains, a yard crew will switch out bad orders. When the engines are serviced, hostlers will put the engine back on the train and the road crews hop on the cab car and take the train into the depot. When I work over there, I usually go into track 4B and pick up my train at 13B.
Bruce Bishop Metra runs those tracks now...Amtrak holds their trains on the left past the mains.
Seth Lakin Bruce Bishop actually BNSF runs the yard. BNSF crews run the trains for Metra under a purchase of service contract. The three UP lines are UP crews under a similar contract. All other Metra lines are Metra crews.
Dennis DeBruler This group is doing its job, teaching many of us how the trains work(ed) in Chicagoland. Steven J Brown has posted some views of the south side of the Zephyr Pit. For example:

Raymond G Weber posted
Timothy Leppert Where is this? Looks like the Chicago Coach Yard and E unit in the background.
Bob Campbell Timothy Leppert it is; taken from Roosevelt Road bridge.

Arvy J. Novahtskee posted several photos with the comment: "Don’t remember if I posted these or not anyway I screenshot these a few months back while watching a CH7 livestream.. thought it was cool to catch a birds eye view of union station and 14th Street (Zephyr Pit) "
I selected these four.

[Note all of the double-slip turnouts.]



[That skyline in the upper-left is going to be changing.]
Edward Kwiatkowski shared
A Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) diesel locomotive pulls out of Union Station and is heading into the curve to the westbound tracks running north of 16th street. Based upon the coloration of the cars in this B&W photo, it appears that the cars are a Great Northern (GN) consist, and may be the GN Empire Building, which was carried by the CB&Q between Chicago and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
[The Zephyr Pit is along the left side of this view looking Northish. The photographer must be on the B&OCT Viaduct to their bridge.]
Bradley Rempert Year?
Bradley Rempert Looks like the Hancock way back in the, 1970?
Eric Margolis The logo on the front of the engine was used until 1970.

Jim Arvites posted a different exposure of this photo
View of Chicago Burlington & Quincy units on the lead of the "Empire Builder" departing Chicago on October 9, 1950.  (Wallace W Abbey Photo)
Rodney D Zona: Old CB&Q RR Chicago based passenger train and engine crews worked to and from Savanna, IL.

Jim Arvites posted
Jon Roma: Both GN and NP equipment ran to and from Chicago, and in later years (even before the 1970 BN merger) their trains were even combined, and ran behind CB&Q engines.
GN and NP did not enter Chicago. These railroads terminated in Minneapolis/St. Paul, so their trains traveled over CB&Q rails between these twin cities and Chicago.
Steven J. Brown: From the B&O bridge on the St Charles Airline! I’ve been up there a lot after the rails were abandoned. Must have been an interesting place to stand back when the line was active!
Alan Kline: Steven J. Brown The B&OCT bridge was parallel to the SCAL, but not really part of it. It was B&OCT’s access to Grand Central Station, and when the station was closed and demolished around 1970, there was no further need for the bridge.

William Shapotkin posted
Many of us have visited the Roosevelt Rd bridge (over the south approach to Union Station) in Chicago and taken pix -- but here is a contemporary areal photo, courtesy of Joe Slezinger. View looks S-S/E.
Third photo of six photos shared by Marty Bernard

1 comment:

  1. I am glad I found this blog!
    I love trains and industrial history
    I have just started looking at it and it looks great.
    I will check back often.