Monday, June 8, 2020

Grayslake Junction: (Metra+WSOR)/Milw vs. (CN+Metra)/WC

(Satellite)   WSOR = Wisconsin & Southern Railroad

I'm still learning about the Chicagoland railroads one junction at a time. And researching this junction taught me something more about Metra routes.

Rob Conway posted
Another view of the Grayslake diamond replacement in 1976.
Mike Heiligstedt All that and a Fairmont !! [The speeder on the right.]
Sam Carlson Watching jewelers mount a diamond!

Metra's route on the former Milwaukee tracks is Milwaukee District North (MD-N). Metra would own this route in its service area. I presume that WSOR would own the rest of the route and provide freight service on the Metra part.

Metra's route on the former Wisconsin Central tracks, North Central Service (NCS), is complicated because the WC tracks between the BRC and the loop are either out-of-service or no longer exist. And they are owned by B&OCT, which is now owned by CSX.

I looked at using this topo map to document the lost WC route. But it has the serious error of showing the B&O (actually, B&OCT) route turning south and joining the Pennsy route rather than continuing across the river and turning north to the Grand Central Station.
1953 Chicago Quadrangle @ 1:250,000

The 1957 1:250,000 topo had the same error. But the 1980 version below accurately shows the B&OCT/WC route to the Grand Central Station. I used the following color code.

1980 Chicago Quadrangle @ 1:250,000 plus Paint
So I checked a Metra map to see how the North Central Service trains get between the WC tracks and Union Station.
The answer is that they use the Milwaukee District West (MD-W) route, which Metra owns, until they get to the B-12 Junction (red oval on map) and turn North onto CN/CP(Soo)/WC tracks.
Metra-ND-W plus Paint

NCS is obviously the Metra route that provides service to O'Hare. It has a station that is a couple of blocks from the People Mover terminal that supports some rental car companies. I remember that it took a while after Metra was created to get this route running. In fact, the first regular service train didn't run until 5:27am on Monday, August 19,1996. [History-NCS] Unlike the other routes where railroads were running commuter trains for over 70 years before 1996, the Wisconsin Central did not have commuter service. It was not built to create suburbs like some other routes were (e.g. MD-W's Chicago & Pacific [History-MD-W]). It was built to connect the WC to the Chicago freight market. So $131.4m had to be spent to get the 53-mile route ready for commuter service. The towns along the route helped pay for the stations and parking lots. Shortly after Metra was formed in 1984, they began planning this route. In 1987, Soo, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific, sold the line to a new corporation that revived the name Wisconsin Central. Canadian National obtained ownership of the line in 2001. "Rails and signals were upgraded to allow for 60-mph commuter trains. Sidings were added or elongated so freight trains could move out of the way of commuter trains and vice versa. Gates were upgraded at 69 crossings and rebuilt at 23 crossings." Between 1997 and 2006, Metra spent $218m to add a second track and four more stations. [History-NCS]

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