Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

  • Friday, October 23, 2015 2:23 PM | John Nicholson (Administrator)

    From Railway Age (9-09-15):

    Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

    El Paso City Lines PCC, circa 1963

    Transportation officials in El Paso, Tex., are finalizing agreements with two firms to build a $97 million, 4.8-mile streetcar line approved by City Council in 2014. The state-funded project involves refurbishing and placing back into service historic El Paso City Lines PCC cars that operated until the 1970s.

    TheCamino Real Regional Mobility Authority, which is overseeing the project, in late August 2015 selected Paso del Norte Trackworks, a joint venture of California-basedGranite Construction Inc.and New York-basedRailWorks Track Systems, andBrookville Equipment Corp. to build the infrastructure and rebuild the PCC cars, respectively. Paso del Norte Trackworks will be responsible for tracks, maintenance and storage facilities, power stations and catenary wires. Brookville will be responsible for resurrecting El Paso’s old PCCs, which have sat dormant for decades in the Texas desert.

    Work could begin on the streetcar line, which was designed byAECOM, as early as January 2016. Last year, the Granite/RailWorks joint venture completed a $197 million modern streetcar line in Tucson, Ariz., that opened in July 2014. That system sparked a downtown renaissance, spurring $1.5 billion in private and public development along the route, Tucson city officials and business groups have said.

    The El Paso streetcar will run from the Paso del Norte Port of Entry to the West El Paso neighborhood that is home to a campus of El Paso Community College, the University of Texas at El Paso and several hospitals. Construction will be complex, as the route passes through the arts, business, government, entertainment and shopping districts in downtown El Paso, Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director Raymond Telles told local media. “We are going to affect a lot of people with this project, so we want to make it as painless as possible,” he said.

    Six of El Paso’s vintage PCCs will be transported to Brookville Equipment’s facilities in Pennsylvania and remanufactured and modernized. Originally, plans called for seven PCCs, but the cost of restoring the streetcars was greater than expected, $3.1 million per car, officials said. They hope to eventually add a seventh car using contingency funds that could be freed up when the project is complete.

    Brookville, which has remanufactured PCC cars for SEPTA and other transit authorities, will upgrade the 1938-built vehicles with modern propulsion equipment, air conditioning, and pantographs for current collection. The cars will also be ADA-compliant. PCC No. 1511, which was painted by renowned artist Jose Cisneros, will be restored, artwork and all, according to Telles.

  • Tuesday, August 04, 2015 3:54 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)


    This article is written by Carole Carlson on Aug 4, 2015 of the Merrillville, IN Post Tribune


    Aug. 03--The South Shore Railroad is gearing up to carry bicycles on trains next spring, kick starting the transit plan years earlier than a previous timeline.

    South Shore General Manager Mike Noland unveiled prototypes of two bicycle racks at Friday's Northern Indiana Commuter Transit board meeting and the board approved a one-year pilot program set to start in April. The racks were designed by SportWorks, a Seattle-based transit design company.

    Advocates have been pushing the initiative for about 10 years. Bike supporters say the South Shore is the only commuter railroad in the nation that bans bicycles on its trains because its cars aren't configured to hold them.

    The pilot program approved Friday will outfit three cars with specially-made bike racks. Bike owners will sit next to their bikes.

    Noland said three cars will be equipped with about 25 to 30 bike racks each. The racks will be attached to the car's metal heating system. Each rack costs $500 to $600. No final cost estimate for the pilot program was available.

    The pilot bike program will only run on weekends and cyclists must get on and off at stations with high-level boarding platforms, Noland said. It's also not intended as a permanent solution.

    At a public hearing last month, officials presented a bikes on trains plan that's dependent on the purchase of new cars within five years. NICTD then plans to retrofit five existing cars at a price tag of about $10 million. When bike advocates and even some NICTD board members heard the program likely wouldn't start until 2021, they complained and officials began to look for a short-term solution.

    "We heard the board loud and clear to accelerate the process prior to the next train car order," Noland said. He said cars purchased in 2009 were finally performing well and anchoring the fleet, allowing the railroad the opportunity to look at modifying its older cars.

    Noland acknowledged the South Shore's shortcomings. "Metra has more space than we do. We have no room for anything but seats, that's the fundamental difference."

    NICTD board member and Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay thanked Noland for quick action. "I commend you for listening to what was being said. I think this is the right way to do it. I know there are still bugs... Folks who really want their bikes on trains will be hospitable."

    Advocates, including Save the Dunes Council and the National Parks Conservation Association, immediately praised the action.

    "Save the Dunes has taken a leadership role in the project as part of our desire to increasenon-motorized access to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, yetclearly the benefits would be experienced region-wide," the Save the Dunes Council stated in a release.

    "This decision has been a long time coming and today's vote by the NICTD board is a welcome change and one that we look forward to seeing through," said LeAaron Foley, an outreach coordinator with the National Parks Conservation Association.

    Contact Carole Carlson at ccarlson@post-trib.com.

    Copyright 2015 - Post-Tribune, Merrillville, Ind

  • Thursday, July 23, 2015 1:52 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)


    A Chicago-bound train at Ogden Dunes, Ind.

    This article was pulled from http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2015/07/south-shore-declares-express-service-a-success 

    July 13, 2015

    Brian Schmidt

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District says the South Shore Sunshine Express is a success just four months after its implementation. The express trains get South Bend commuters to Chicago in fewer than two hours by making only two other stops. The agency is now working to add more express trains to its schedule.

    According to a NICTD, the South Shore is averaging roughly 100 more passengers per day traveling to Chicago from the served stations. NICTD General Manager Mike Noland says they had hoped the service would attract at least 100 new riders between the three express stops. “So far, I would deem this train a success,” Noland tells WSBT-TV.

    “We are hearing from other riders about how excited they are about how there is an express train. They want one on their stop as well. But they understand there are things that we need to put in place to get there,” Noland says.

    Among the changes Noland hopes to implement to add more express trains include:

    • Moving the South Shore depot to the west side of the South Bend airport, cutting 10 minutes of travel time.
    • Adding double track in the areas that are currently single track with the goal of cutting South Bend – Chicago time to 90 minutes.
    • Reducing travel time in Michigan City.

    “We need to fix Michigan City,” Noland says. “Right now to go through Michigan City through the streets is a very slow ride through the middle of town. So we need to straighten those tracks out.

    “We think within four to five years we can drive the times down to 90 minutes out of South Bend, 60 minutes out of Michigan City, and 45 minutes from Ogden Dunes,” Noland adds.

    Noland says the South Shore is working to get federal grants to make some of the improvements. The railroad will also be doing more advertising for the Express Train to increase ridership.
  • Monday, July 13, 2015 11:46 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    The following is from a yahoo groups blog, by "Edward Havens" watsonscruff2000

    Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:11 am (PDT) . 

    MILWAUKEE will begin construction of its downtown modern streetcar line in
    October and changes to the route alignment have reduced utility relocation
    costs, the "urban milwaukee dot com" site reports. "Not a single track has
    been laid, but final engineering work has already reduced the utilities
    relocation bill on the Milwaukee Streetcar project by over $1 million.
    During a streetcar task force meeting Friday morning project consultants *Tim
    Clancy* <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/tim-clancy/> of The Concord Group
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/business/the-concord-group/> and *Ashley Booth
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/ashley-booth>* of HNTB
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/businesses/hntb> detailed their firms’ work on
    negotiating with the utilities and procuring the vehicles. ... Bids have
    been received for the streetcar vehicles. The consulting team declined to
    identify how many or who the bidders are. They did announce that they
    intend to award the contract in September, following final review and
    interviews with the bidding teams." Here is the route map before changes to
    lower utility relocaion costs. The article says that a : "more than $1
    million reduction in costs was realized from minor route modifications as
    well as swapping E. Wells St. for E. Kilbourn Ave. and relocating
    north-bound tracks to N. Jackson St. from N. Van Buren St."
    Here is a later map:

    *http://tinyurl.com/ncy53h4 <http://tinyurl.com/ncy53h4>>"*Streetcar
    Construction Starts in October
    On-going engineering work continues to save millions of dollars. And
    anti-streetcar group has given up trying to stop the starter line.
    By Jeramey Jannene <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/author/jeramey/>
    Jul 10th, 2015 05:48 pm

    [image: The streetcar as it meets Broadway in the Third Ward.]

    The streetcar as it meets Broadway in the Third Ward.

    Not a single track has been laid, but final engineering work has already
    reduced the utilities relocation bill on the Milwaukee Streetcar project by
    over $1 million.

    During a streetcar task force meeting Friday morning project consultants *Tim
    Clancy* <http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/tim-clancy/> of The Concord Group
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/business/the-concord-group/> and *Ashley Booth
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/people/ashley-booth>* of HNTB
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/businesses/hntb> detailed their firms’ work on
    negotiating with the utilities and procuring the vehicles.

    More work between the engineering team and We Energies
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/businesses/we-energies> has been finalized, and
    more than $1 million reduction in costs was realized from minor route
    modifications as well as swapping E. Wells St. for E. Kilbourn Ave. and
    relocating north-bound tracks to N. Jackson St. from N. Van Buren St.

    Now that the route is locked in, pending expected federal approval, design
    work is beginning on the overhead contact system.

    That work is expected to be completed by November, with contracts for
    construction of the system awarded in January 2016.

    Construction would start in April and be completed by February 2018.

    Following final testing, the general public could start riding the system
    in July 2018.

    Construction work on the utilities will begin in advance of the track and
    overhead wire system, with design work being completed next month for the
    public utilities.

    Contracts will be awarded for that work in September. The first streetcar
    project shovels will go into the ground in October. The utility work is
    expected to be completed in August 2016.

    Bids have been received for the streetcar vehicles. The consulting team
    declined to identify how many or who the bidders are.

    They did announce that they intend to award the contract in September,
    following final review and interviews with the bidding teams.

    Once the specifications of the winning bidder’s vehicles are known,
    planning will commence for the construction of the Operations and
    Maintenance Facility

    That facility is planned to be built underneath Interstate 794.

    The lakefront extension of the streetcar to the Henry Maier Festival
    Grounds and proposed The Couture
    http://urbanmilwaukee.com/buildings/the-couture> is also undergoing survey
    work currently.

    That extension was approved with the starter line, but will be constructed
    later than the starter line because of the engineering work still required.
    Utilities Cost Issue.

    by "Edward Havens" watsonscruff2000

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015 11:58 AM | John Nicholson (Administrator)

    Alan R. Lind

    1940 – 2015

    We were saddened to learn of the passing of noted transportation historian and former CERA director Alan R. Lind of Park Forest on May 30, 2015, at the age of 75. Mr. Lind was the co-author of From Zephyr to Amtrak (1972) and Monarchs of Mid-America (1973). He was the author of From Horsecars to Streamliners (1978), but is probably best remembered among traction enthusiasts for Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History. First published in 1974, it was revised and expanded over the years culminating in an all-encompassing third edition issued in 1979.

    For a city that once boasted the world’s largest streetcar system under one management, there had been surprisingly little material published about Chicago’s streetcars. In 1964 James D. Johnson published A Century of Chicago Streetcars, a nostalgic look at Chicago’s system through the photographs of Tom Desnoyers (credited as “Thomas Hollister” in the book). Published only six years after Chicago’s last streetcar ran, this was largely a photo album that appealed to both the ardent fan and the casual reader whose memories of the cars in their neighborhoods and their daily lives were still fresh. 

    Mr. Lind’s work on Chicago’s streetcars was much greater in scope. The first edition appeared in 1974, twenty years after the last of the red car lines had been converted to bus. Not so much a narrative history, it provided a detailed account of practically every component of the Chicago Surface Lines. Written for the serious fan (or “rivet counter” in railfan argot) one found valuable information on all types of Chicago streetcars, their routes, route histories, carbarns, shops, and other facilities. For decades this has been the “go to” book for the Chicago streetcar enthusiast.

    Mr. Lind passed away three weeks before the 57th anniversary of the closing of the last streetcar line in Chicago. Many of us who rode these last streetcars as children are now collecting social security and most of the adults who took us on these rides are no longer with us. Alan Lind’s major contribution was to collect and present this wealth of information on Chicago’s streetcars, preserving it for the enjoyment and education of both the traction fan and serious transit historian. Because of Mr. Lind’s efforts, both old and young readers can marvel at the size and magnificence of this once vast streetcar network. The older ones can take satisfaction at having ridden on these cars while the younger ones will wish they had.  

    Alan Lind will be missed by all of us.

    John Nicholson

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:24 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Please congratulate Raymond DeGroote, Jr., as he was awarded a Life Time membership on June 26, 2015 in recognition of his contributions to the organization over the years.

  • Tuesday, June 16, 2015 10:36 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)
    Update: The printer has stated that it will begin mailing out copies of the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial, B-146, to all recipients starting the week of June 15, 2015, and we understand some have already received their copies.  

    For any questions or concerns related to your delivery, please email ceraoffice@gmail.com. 

    Thank you,

  • Monday, June 01, 2015 11:32 AM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)
    CERA will have a booth at the Chicago Tribune Printers Row LitFest 2015 on Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th.  We'll be there between 10am to 6pm - if you're going, come say hello to the CERA staff. The booth is identified as Tent KK which will be located near the intersection of Polk and Dearborn.  

    If you're unfamiliar with Lit Fest, here's a short overview:

    "As part of its ongoing commitment to the written word and its support of literacy and literary endeavor, the Chicago Tribune purchased the Printers Row Book Fair in 2002 from the Near South Planning Board. Recently renamed to be the Printer's Row Lit Fest, it is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest-drawing more than 150,000 book lovers to the two-day showcase."

    Hope to see you there.

  • Thursday, May 21, 2015 11:44 AM | Len Marcus (Administrator)

    Our soon to be issued and available publication.  Following is the dust jacket cover sure to tempt all lovers of the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Surface Lines Green Hornet streetcars. 

  • Friday, May 15, 2015 3:44 PM | Jeff Wien (Administrator)

    Fri May 15, 2015 9:47 am (PDT) . Posted by:

    "Edward Havens" watsonscruff2000 of the Philly_Traction Yahoo Group

    KANSAS CITY and St. Louis are the two Missouri cities with streetcar line construction projects underway but they differ because one is a modern streetcar and the other a heritage trolley, the "re journals dot com" site reports. The real estate industry publication says economic development is taking place along the car lines even though neither is in operation yet:

    *http://tinyurl.com/k9ntxo5 <http://tinyurl.com/k9ntxo5>>"*Clang! Clang!
    The trolley — and streetcar — are coming to provide a boost to Midwest
    < http://www.rejournals.com/2015/05/15/clang-clang-the-trolley-and-streetcar-are-coming-to-provide-a-boost-to-midwest-cities/>
    May 15, 2015
    < http://www.rejournals.com/2015/05/15/clang-clang-the-trolley-and-streetcar-are-coming-to-provide-a-boost-to-midwest-cities/>
    Dan Rafter
    < http://www.rejournals.com/2015/05/15/clang-clang-the-trolley-and-streetcar-are-coming-to-provide-a-boost-to-midwest-cities/>
    [image: kansas city streetcar image]
    < http://www.rejournals.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/kansas-city-streetcar-image.jpg>

    A rendering of the Kansas City streetcar in action.

    Husch Blackwell attorneys Doug Stone and David Richardson have learned a
    lot about streetcars and trolleys.

    They can tell you why a streetcar isn’t the same thing as a cable car and
    why a trolley isn’t the same thing as a trolley coach.

    Richardson and Stone aren’t trolley buffs. The attorneys learned their
    streetcar trivia through hard work.

    Stone and Richardson have each played key roles in guiding streetcar and
    trolley projects to the construction phase in the St. Louis and Kansas
    City, Missouri, areas, with Stone providing key legal advice to city
    officials in Kansas City and Richardson doing the same in St. Louis.

    It’s not easy to guide urban public-transportation projects from the
    planning to the construction phases.

    But the projects in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets have cleared the
    legal hurdles that could have scuttled each of them.

    That’s good news. Both Stone and Richardson say that these
    public-transportation projects will provide an economic boost to the cities
    through which they will travel.

    “Frankly, I think that most of the economic development community in Kansas
    City will tell you that the streetcar is a game-changer,” Stone said.

    “Kansas City has been flirting with a variety of light-rail, streetcar-type
    projects since the mid-1990s but has not been able to get the citywide
    support necessary. Now it is becoming a reality, and it is going to make a
    major impact.”

    And in St. Louis?

    “The hope is that this will be an economic development engine,” Richardson
    said. “We are already seeing signs of that.”

    *The power of light-rail*

    St. Louis and Kansas City aren’t the only Midwest cities to turn to
    light-rail public-transportation projects for an economic boost.

    In Detroit, construction crews are building the M-1 RAIL streetcar project
    that city officials hope will speed economic recovery efforts in the city.

    And in Minneapolis, the city’s new light-rail system is earning praise for
    creating jobs and bringing new development to previously under-served

    The hope is that the Kansas City and St. Louis pojects will drive new
    development — encouraging new retailers, restaurants and offices — along
    their lines.
    [image: Here's what the St. Louis Loop Trolley will look like.]
    < http://www.rejournals.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/st.-louis-loop-trolley-image-2.jpg>

    Here’s what the St. Louis Loop Trolley will look like.

    Stone said that since the announcement of the Kansas City streetcar
    project, the city has seen $100 million in development that is solely or
    partly attributable to the new streetcar line.

    Stone said that new residential developments are already under
    construction. New enterainment venues are opening, and hotels are being
    built, all in downtown Kansas City.

    “When I first moved to Kansas City in 1993, the downtown was a ghost town,”
    Stone said.

    “There’s been a steady drive to rejuvenate the downtown since, and it’s
    paying off. This is building upon itself with the advent of the streetcar

    "There is a huge buzz surrounding the downtown. Developers are coming to us
    from other cities. Just 10 years ago, that never would have happened.”

    Richardson said that the Loop Trolley project in St. Louis is causing some
    of the excitement in both St. Louis and neighboring University City, the
    two metropolises in which the trolley line runs.

    Construction on the St. Louis line started in late March.

    But since the announcement of the new line, Washington University has
    finished construction on a new student-housing project with a first-floor
    grocery store and restaurant, and other restaurants are popping up along
    the trolley’s route.

    Developers and investors have been buying up real estate in the areas
    served by the trolley, Richardson said, and have plans for their own new

    “We had a period in which we had a lot of historic rehab projects going on
    with loft spaces,” Richardson said.

    “We had a good run of eight years or so for that. Then 2008 and the
    recession slowed us down. Now we are seeing downtown rehab projects
    starting up again. It’s good to see this activity.”

    *On schedule*

    Both the Kansas City and St. Louis projects are moving along on schedule.

    In Kansas City as of May 1, 71 percent of the track for the streetcar
    project is built, with 15,430 feet complete out of 21,771 total feet needed
    for the project.

    The city has announced, too, that 96 percent of water and sewer
    replacements and upgrades are complete, while more than 100 power poles
    have been installed.

    Construction crews have buld the line’s first streetcar stop at 16th and
    Main streets.

    All construction is scheduled to wrap in the fall of 2015.

    The streetcar system will then go through a run of testing. City officials
    say that the line will open to the public in 2016.

    Construction on St. Louis’ Loop Trolley project is in the earlier phases.

    But the work is proceeding on schedule.

    Once complete, the new trolleys — designed to look like historic trolley
    cars — will travel a 2.2-mile fixed-route line linking University City and
    Forest Park in St. Louis.

    The line will include 10 stops, including a big one at the Missouri History

    Construction of this line began March 23 with the installation of a
    permanent roundabout on Delmar Blvd. in University City.

    Trolley track construction was scheduled to begin late in May. City
    officials say that the line will begin service in late 2016.

    Gaining approval for each of the projects was not an easy task.

    Stone and Richardson helped in this process, assisting the city on a wide
    range of financial and planning matters.

    In Kansas City, the streetcar project is funded through a sales tax paid by
    consumers and special assessments paid by the property owners and
    commercial tenants in a limited special district.

    Earning the support of the property and business owners in this district
    took time, with Stone saying that planners and city officials went through
    almost a year’s worth of meetings with the business community.

    The meetings were necesssary to convince the business community that the
    streetcar project would provide them with a significant economic boost.

    “We had some convincing to do,” Stone said.

    “Luckily, we were right about the positive impact that the streetcar
    project would have.

    "At this point there is some sentiment among the business community that
    perhaps we should expand the line. I think if you spoke to the business
    owners who were at first wary of the plan, you’d find almost unanimously
    that they now think this was the right decision.”

    In St. Louis, gaining the funding for the project was a challenge,
    Richardson said. The Loop Trolley is a $48 million project. The federal
    government provided some small grants to get the project started, providing
    about $25 million. The city created a TIF district for the St. Louis
    portion of the route that added an additional $4 million of funding.

    Then project officials turned to the New Markets Tax Credit program to
    provide yet more funding, Richardson said. This program, created in 2000 to
    spur reinvestment in low-income or struggling communities, was created as
    part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. There weren’t
    examples, though, of this program being used to fund public-transportation

    But in St. Louis, the New Markets Tax Credit program provided millions of
    needed dollars for the trolley project.

    “That was a very innovative and unconventional approach,” Richardson said.

    Today, both Richardson and Stone are waiting to see the full impact that
    the cities’ new public-transportation projects will have.

    But already, the attorneys are seeing benefits.

    The time is right for new public transportation because so many people
    today want to move into the hearts of cities.

    Already, there is more activity — and more residents moving in — in the
    middle of St. Louis and Kansas City.

    “I went to downtown Kansas City the other night and it was like New York
    City,” Stone said.

    “The streetcar project will only help spread that activity throughout the
    center of the city.”

    *[end text]------*

    *Edward B. Havens*

    *Tucson, Ariz

Copyright 2018 Central Electric Railfans' Association. All Right Reserved 

Central Electric Railfans' Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 503, Chicago, IL  60690

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software