South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

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MQT1223
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South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by MQT1223 »

A question that has recently been on my mind. Why does the South Shore run trains on Electric and Diesel? I am aware of their history, but to me it doesn't make any sense. The diesel's were brought in to replace aging electrics in freight service, but why not purchase diesel electrics to pull the passenger trains?

Does the South Shore have some kind of emergency backup in case power were to get interrupted to the catenary?
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SD80MAC
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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by SD80MAC »

They are two completely separate entities now. The electric passenger operations are operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter District (aka Indiana Govt,) and the freight is being run by privately owned South Shore Freight.
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justalurker66
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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by justalurker66 »

MQT1223 wrote:A question that has recently been on my mind. Why does the South Shore run trains on Electric and Diesel? I am aware of their history, but to me it doesn't make any sense. The diesel's were brought in to replace aging electrics in freight service, but why not purchase diesel electrics to pull the passenger trains?
Passenger trains must run on the main tracks, passing sidings and yards in three locations (Millennium Park, Gary pocket siding and Michigan City yard). Nothing else needs to be electrified. Freight trains need to run on sidings, industry tracks and via trackage rights on other railroads in the Chicago area. A lot of extra track that does not need to be electrified with the freight operations being diesel.

Metra Electric District being electric also affects the decision to remain electric (and to build the new line to Dyer as an electric line). Each powered car can be operated independently (there are 10 non-powered trailers, 10 single cab powered cars and 14 single cab gallery cars). Diesel engines would make all passenger cars trailers and reduce the flexibility of the operation.
MQT1223 wrote:Does the South Shore have some kind of emergency backup in case power were to get interrupted to the catenary?
NICTD (the passenger service provider and owner of all passenger tracks) has one engine that they use for maintenance trains as well as rescue operations. They can also lease South Shore Freight engines as needed for rescue operations.

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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by dinwitty »

During the steam era downtown trains were smothering the area with smoke, the city ordered electrification, so the IC electrified. South Shore has always been electric and has trackage rights on the IC. Diesels emit fumes, so that does not bode well for running into mellenium station. The proposed extension may use a combonation diesel and electric engine, on the extension it would run diesel, when it hit the overhead, switch to electric. During various emergencies like downed catenar6y, often the line in the area is shut down and passengers bussed, no trains would run while the work is done, BUT on any outage, Metra/South Shore jumps on the wagon FAST and gets it repaired ASAP. When UP had its coal freight damage track a while back, it was a big ONO, the line was shut down for a day as a massive repair was done, I was amazed at the speed of repair, they cant be operational down for any time, they jump on it. I would rather the new extension be full electric. For a time once the South Shore ran Push Pull CNW trains on their line. Probably more due to car shortages.

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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by justalurker66 »

dinwitty wrote:The proposed extension may use a combonation diesel and electric engine, on the extension it would run diesel, when it hit the overhead, switch to electric. . . . I would rather the new extension be full electric.
The current plan for West Lake is 100% electric. NICTD plans on using existing single level cars on the line, peak trains running the entire length from Dyer to Chicago and others running Dyer to a new Hammond Gateway station. New gallery cars would be purchased to replace the single level trains on the main South Shore Line.

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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by tadman »

Dinwitty is right, the gallery car trains on SS were due to car shortages.

As to why the freights are no longer electric, you have quite a few reasons that just cant change:

1. The old electric power was rare and worn out.
2. The railroad once made its money on bridge traffic during regulated times, and now makes money on originating and terminating loads. Some terminating coal loads are run through with foreign power. Some general freight is run off property with CSS power, necessitating diesels.
3. No commercially available 1500VDC power exists in the US. Even if they wanted to, they couldn't buy new electric motors.
4. When C&O took a hike in '82ish, they added 10 GP38-2 on top of their order for the parent road and basically left them for the new owners as a pot sweetener. I don't know that anybody wanted to buy an oddball interurban running 1920's and 1940's electric motors with no spares available. Of course, they didn't foresee the guys that ran Venango, who bought a handful of ex-BN F45's that never ran right.

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Re: South Shore Electric Vs. Diesel

Unread post by dinwitty »

multiple powered wheels can accellerate much faster than a diesel pulled train, this is critical for on time operation with many stops. As noted SS handled a lot of bridge traffic, this was true for a lot of electrified interurbans. Now SS can do terminal to terminal. They own their own freight traffic line now. I'm glad they accepted full electric on the dyer extension.

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