METRA TIPS/PHOTOS

SOUTH SHORE LINE

In the early part of the century, the Midwest and other parts of America were crisscrossed by electric interurban railways. Interurbans were generally characterized with somewhat more inexpensive construction, including the use of city streets through urban and built up areas. The first segment of the Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend Railroad was opened in 1903, and the line was completed in 1909. And the line was modernized in the 1920's, and renamed the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad. In the 1980's, new single level electric MU cars finally replaced the old cars dating from the 1920's. The line is now operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD). The Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad was the last such interurban to survive, although cars larger than traditional interurban cars always gave the line more of the look of a main line commuter railroad. This line travels a longer distance than any commuter line in Chicago: 88 miles to South Bend, Indiana. Between Chicago and Michigan City, the line now is basically no different from any other electric commuter railroad. While the area beyond Michigan City to South Bend is beyond traditional commuting distance, still quite rural, and the one segment which can still be considered "interurban" like. There may be no other railroad quite like it in North America. Most of the line's mileage is within Indiana, outside of Metra's jurisdiction. NICTD establishes most of the South Shore Line fare structure, and the Metra weekend pass is thus not valid there. Trains use the Metra Electric line from Randolph Street to Kensington, where they turn east past the various industries near Lake Calumet Harbor. A short distance east of the state line is the Hammond station, and from there railfans can walk to either of two popular train watching spots. State Line interlocking is several blocks back west along the South Shore Line, and Hohman Avenue interlocking is about a mile south of the station on Hohman Avenue. Much of northwestern Indiana is industrial, with the steel mills around Gary most notable. But east of Gary the line eventually becomes more rustic as it passes near the Indiana Dunes area. Many trains terminate at Michigan City, which is the only area where trains still use city streets. At South Bend, trains now go to the Michiana Regional Airport, using an industrial spur which had been upgraded and extended. The airport is northwest of downtown South Bend. The line is double track from Kensington to Gary and single track east of there. In recent years, CTC was completed on the entire line. Freight action is moderate along the line, primarily to serve the various power plants in the area.

Speed Limits:
Kensington-South Bend: 79 mph
Michigan City - street operation: 25 mph


PHOTOS

Scenes along the line.