CP 421 Upgrade

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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Jochs » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:29 pm

LakeATCS wrote:That is going to be a sweet train watching spot.

The ground is marked out for fencing, hopefully not too much fencing. They may make it so the platform is only accessible during train time.
fencemark.jpg
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:19 pm

A couple of pictures in the cold ...
cp421-171230a.jpg
30 small light pole bases planted mostly in pairs with additional small pole bases at the end of the platform and one by the parking lot. I saw one of the large bases and possibly a second but did not dig through the snow to find out.
cp421-171230b.jpg
The curve and Main St Crossing
cp421-171230c.jpg
Main St Crossing --- not too drastic. About the same as the crossings along Main St/US 33 in Elkhart and Goshen.

I found a few construction markers labeled fence sticking up out of the snow. Wooden markers with "Pro Fence End" at the sidewalk east of the parking lot by Main St and "Pro Fence End" at the end of the platform. There are two "Pro Fence Corner" markers that make this part of the fence something that would stop people from leaving the east parking lot and getting too close to the equipment cabinets and signals. I am not sure why they are fencing the east end of the parking lot where there is grass and a bench. I did not see "fence" markers along the platform (where the lights bases where installed).

The old signal bridge is inside the fence markers.

The old platform was plowed down to the end by the new signal bridge but the new platform was not cleared (only straight out to the track). There was still enough snow cover that I did not see the markings Jochs photographed. But it would make sense to have a fence similar to Hammond's to keep people on the sidewalks.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby DaveO » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:17 pm

justalurker 66 thank you for that picture of the crossing. It does appear that NS tried to keep all 3 tracks in the same plane. Otherwise it would have been a kidney-buster.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:22 am

I have been thinking about the pole base locations. If they are for lights it seems odd to have them paired and not evenly spaced along the platform. Plus the overhead lights are sufficient for lighting the platform. So now I am thinking the paired bases are for signs. It seems like overkill, but signs every 80-100 ft to let people know where the train is stopped. That would account for most of the small bases. There are a few that are not placed in pairs that could be for additional signs. (A "to platform" sign by the east parking lot and "no trespassing" signs for anyone wandering off the end of the platforms?)

Here is a picture of the small pole bases at west end of the platform. The large pole bases (shown uninstalled in a photo a couple of weeks ago) could be for a larger sign.
cp421-171230d.jpg
West end of the Elkhart Amtrak platform


By the way, I have mentioned Whiting a few times. Here is a picture for those who do not know how that station's platform is laid out. I do not expect a platform length canopy at Elkhart (although something small would account for a couple of the large bases - there were three large bases uninstalled which could support a large sign or small canopy from the back edge of the platform).
Whiting-150307.jpg
Whiting 2015 - The high security parking behind the station is not for Amtrak.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:41 pm

Thanks, as always, for the regular updates and photos. The photo of the Hammond setup was a helpful reference.

Hopefully they do something nice with the fencing, something low and not too intrusive, and not overly decorative which just makes it look like a bad day at Disneyland. If they are planning to retain the signal bridge beside the depot, maybe it will be incorproated into some kind of grassy park area (extension of the existing grass and bench previously mentioned) and they'll want to make sure kiddos aren't getting too close to the tracks and equipment.

Either way, I hope they don't tear out the old brick section of the platform. That platform has been there since the current depot opened in 1900 and may possibly pre-date it. The bricks likely came by boxcar directly from the brickyard in Conneaut, Ohio. I realize it doesn't have the exact same function as it did just a few months ago, but it's still a nice historic walking surface as people make their way to the new platform.

Amtrak has been on a signage kick. Not sure if it's related to their ADA campaign, or they are stepping up their quest to get rid of all remaining pointless-arrow/Helvetica logos & signage, or what. They may choose to move the Elkhart, IN station information signage from closer to the depot to the new platform, although it would make sense to keep it where it currently is, closer to the parking lot and the waiting room. The paired bases along the new platform are probably for identifying "Elkhart, Indiana" signs, similar to the one seen in Grand Rapids here:

Small GR Amtrak.jpg
New Amtrak Platform Sign


Amtrak recently removed the two old pointless-arrow signs at Holland and installed 4 new ones of this new style, two on one side of the track, two on the other, including one really close to the "Welkom to Holland" sign which always is graced with tulips in the spring. They redid the tactcile edge of the platform and put up one "! end of Platform" sign at the north end. (Hopefully they did the same treatment in Bangor, that platform was falling apart when I was last there....) So my bet would be station name signs, probably spaced at one per car length which seems overkill but if it's midnight and you want to peep out the window and see where you're stopped..... It would be nice if they added some benches. I agree that a "to platform" sign or two would be useful. Hopefully it doesn't become too cluttered. At least the bases aren't on the pavement itself as some signs are in Dearborn, which makes getting photos from more than a few feet away from the yellow line hard and the open doors always seem to stop right behind them creating a congested boarding process.

Just for fun, here are a couple frosty photos of Amtraks stopping in Elkhart on the old alignment.

Amtrak 49 Elkhart snow.jpg
Lake Shore Limited arrives in 2010.

Amtrak 398 Elkhart 49 12-28-2000.jpg
Twilight of the F40PH at Elkhart in 2000.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby DaveO » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:17 pm

The paired bases will likely be for directional signage to the exit. Along with some fencing, that would help herd people along a hard surface and minimize potential cross country issues. The 3 larges bases are likely for some tower style lighting along the new platform.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:48 pm

I do not expect the signal bridge to remain in that location. If it does I expect it will be an "admire from afar" feature, not something visitors will be allowed to walk under. I expect it will be moved to the museum after an appropriate location is chosen and bases installed at the museum for its installation.

With the new fence the only access for NS signal and track crews to get to the signal cabinets will be off of Main St. They will not be able to drive off the edge of the east parking lot. So I expect the former railroad bed from the platform east will remain "unimproved" and off limits to visitors. (I would not mind seeing NS installing an asphalt or crushed rock road for their vehicles to keep them out of the mud.)

The space between the old platform and the new platform remains a question (once the old mains are completely removed). That is where I am expecting a low fence at the old platform to keep people on the walkways. NS built a nice concrete connection between the old and new platforms down by 6th St and the old platform is used as a road for crew change taxis and other authorized vehicles. Access is available through NS property west of the underpass so vehicles shouldn't need to drive through the Amtrak west parking lot over the bridge to access the old platform.

I am not sure who would walk all the way down to 6th St to use the concrete connection near the west end of the platform (other than rail fans) but the path is there I expect that it will remain open. It is a more comfortable walk now that Main 1 isn't inches away from the old platform.

I expect that when construction is complete everything from (and including) the new platform back to the old platform will be considered Amtrak's property, with the exception of the old platform being used as an access road for NS and their contractors. If it ends up being grass that would be good.

The station and old brick platform remain city property ... so what is done there is up to the city. I would not mind seeing the brick restored (pull up all the bricks, lay down a concrete base then put the bricks back). Make it something nice that will last another 100 years.


The rail fans in Hammond-Whiting seem to use street parking across from the station, although I have seen a few in the west corner of the parking lot at the grade crossing. Do people get run off from "Amtrak Property" if they spend too much time there? There are signs in the parking lot that state that the parking is for Amtrak passengers only but I still see a lot of semi trucks and tour buses in that lot.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:37 pm

justalurker66 wrote:The rail fans in Hammond-Whiting seem to use street parking across from the station, although I have seen a few in the west corner of the parking lot at the grade crossing. Do people get run off from "Amtrak Property" if they spend too much time there? There are signs in the parking lot that state that the parking is for Amtrak passengers only but I still see a lot of semi trucks and tour buses in that lot.

Two visits totaling about 3 hours parking in the lot at Hammond have yielded no issues for me. Place is DEAD, even when Amtrak trains are due to stop. Actually had one of them sneak up on us because NOBODY was at the platform we completely forgot that they were due to stop. Not even a caretaker.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:36 am

Well the guys were right. Amtrak has finished installing the "Elkhart" signs on the new platform, lots of them. There's no doubt where you are now! Photo's to follow. They have also installed "Authorized Personnel" signs in appropriate places.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:49 am

The signage is up. Just in case you're not sure what city this is....... Also up are warning signs placed in odd locations. My guess, given the location of the "install fence here" stakes, is there is going to be a one way road behind the station running east to west exiting onto 3rd street via the construction trail down by the west end of the new platform. Cars will park nose first along the fence line which will run just north of the platform lighting poles. Very similar to Waterloo but on level ground. I wonder if shelters will be added along the platform to complete the ensemble? This may also mean the end of the old brick platform. Torn up or paved over?
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DSC_0081.JPG
And in case there is any doubt, this is ELKHART.
DSC_0080.JPG
Elkhart Signs Up, lots of them.
DSC_0077.JPG
Warning Signs Posted
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:05 pm

I should have checked the thread before going out today ...
Subtract one day's snow melt:
cp421-180120a.jpg
The new signs at the east walkway. Note the smallest sign ("Elkhart, IN") is on the larger size base. The small sign has raised letters and braille - but one must walk off of the platform to touch it.
cp421-180120b.jpg
ADA is in effect. If one walks off the platform and happens to run into the sign it is also in braille! (They should have included Spanish.)
cp421-180120c.jpg
The old signal bridge survives with an Authorized Personnel sign on the old ROW.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:36 pm

Dajudge wrote:My guess, given the location of the "install fence here" stakes, is there is going to be a one way road behind the station running east to west exiting onto 3rd street via the construction trail down by the west end of the new platform. Cars will park nose first along the fence line which will run just north of the platform lighting poles. Very similar to Waterloo but on level ground. I wonder if shelters will be added along the platform to complete the ensemble? This may also mean the end of the old brick platform. Torn up or paved over?

The stakes are in odd places. The west parking lot has an "end" marker by the sidewalk on Tyler St, a "corner" marker at the SE corner of the parking lot, a "corner" marker in the middle of old track 2 and a "end" marker was at the east end of the platform. The nail you photographed with the word fence spray painted nearby is in line with the east end of the platform. If a fence post is placed there it would make the old platform more narrow. I believe that nail is just a survey marker to help line up the west end of the fence.
cp421-180120d.jpg


The survey markers along the platform do not say "fence". I believe they were there to aid in sign placement. While turning that area into parking is an interesting idea, using the construction trail as an exit would not work. That street is a one way street southbound from 3rd St. (That being said, 4th St would make a good exit route down by the west connection between the two platforms.) If that space is used for parking I expect the entrance would be by the dumpster in the current west parking lot with no traffic between the station and tracks. Traffic on the old platform area (owned by the city) would be a bad idea and if the plan was to put a road there they would not have put a new sidewalk all the way to the old platform from the new platform.
cp421-180120m.png
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:24 pm

Hey there Lurker, well I like my idea, even if it has holes. I, like you (I think) am just a guessing. I have no knowledge of the plan. Last summer when this first started rumor was that there was going to be added parking south of the station in the area vacated by track 1 and 2. Still wonder where the old track one signal bridge is going at the museum, and how is it going to get there? Btw, I am flattered that you copied 2 of my 3 quick shots. That means I'm getting better....
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:40 pm

I caught the Capital Limited this morning ... running late which helped add some sunlight. 20 degrees at the time of the stop.

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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:32 pm

I have heard 2 rumors. 1st is this coming summer work will begin on the Hively street overpass in Elkhart. At least one of the affected local business's is in the know. 2nd rumor. That NS is adding a 4th track Elkhart to Dunlap. I highly doubt it given all the new infrastructure money just spent to build a 3 track main line to Goshen. Can anybody confirm? Both rumors came from a high ranking NS employee.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:43 pm

I have observed a lot of SM activity at the control cabinets at the MP 419 signal bridge, Hively St crossing. Usually there are between 2 and 4 trucks parked there and there are two Port-A-Potty huts as well. Anybody got a clue?
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:03 pm

Dajudge wrote:I have heard 2 rumors. 1st is this coming summer work will begin on the Hively street overpass in Elkhart. At least one of the affected local business's is in the know.

I cannot imagine such work beginning without any public notice ... and the last I heard they were looking at an overpass or underpass at CR 13/Lewis St (just south of CP 417) instead of at Hively/CR 18.

The city did work on Hively between Prairie and Main St late last year (converting it from four lanes to three) so a road rehabilitation east of Main St isn't impossible ... but an overpass?

Dajudge wrote:2nd rumor. That NS is adding a 4th track Elkhart to Dunlap. I highly doubt it given all the new infrastructure money just spent to build a 3 track main line to Goshen. Can anybody confirm? Both rumors came from a high ranking NS employee.

Doubtful. NS did not leave room at CP 421 for another track to enter the plant. You should also look at the overpass at Prairie St and the underpass at Indiana Ave and see where a fourth track would go.

I normally look at rumors from respectable people as having some grain of truth. Sometimes finding that grain of truth is a challenge. The statement we were given a couple of years ago that "CP 421 is going away" was impossible since one must have a CP at a location where one has five tracks to the west and four tracks (including the branch) to the east. But I can see where the complete rebuild of the plant could be considered "going away" even though CP 421 continues to exist at the same location. The rumor that CP 421 would start at Oakland Ave can be explained as confusion over the limits of the project (which involved signalling work extending to Oakland Ave and a manual crossover west of Oakland that was removed as part of the project). Setting aside any actual changes in the plans, the "as built" version of CP 421 matches the rumored version - with some "interpretation".

So interpreting the two rumors ... "Hively Ave is being rebuilt" (I do not see evidence of an overpass). I don't know how to interpret a "fourth track" until something is built. (There was a fourth track "back in the day" but that was before underpasses and overpasses east of Main St.)
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby justalurker66 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:22 am

Dajudge wrote:I have observed a lot of SM activity at the control cabinets at the MP 419 signal bridge, Hively St crossing. Usually there are between 2 and 4 trucks parked there and there are two Port-A-Potty huts as well. Anybody got a clue?

Did the portas ever go away after the CP 421 upgrade?

It looks like the crossing gates are being replaced at CR 15 (Meijer).
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Super Chief » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:37 pm

I've heard that PTC cut-over at 421 is this Sunday? Anybody confirm.
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Re: CP 421 Upgrade

Unread postby Dajudge » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:26 pm

Rumor update. The source for the Hively bridge and track 4 addition was questionable but he assured me he got it from someone of adequate rank on the NS inside, which is why I even bothered to throw it out there for comment. I would love to see Hively be a bridge. But cty rd 13 makes more sense. And track 4 was just silly given what all has just taken place at 421. But then, they did install welded rain on the east end of the Kankakee branch only to pull it up 2 years later and abandon it. So strange things do happen. And yes the port-A-potty is still at Hively. Trucks come and go. My latest beef is why the gates stay down so long after a train passes at Sunnyside.
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