Chicago Union Station

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#1
My ambition has overcome me...AGAIN! I have decided to model 6 of the 12 platforms of the south tracks of Chicago's Union Station. I will include part of the Chicago "L" loop, and the Amtrak/Metra yard to the south of the station. Now here comes the ambitious part...all this will be built on a 4x8 ft. layout. My question pertains to the station platforms themselves: I only have room to make the platforms long enough to accomodate 2 85' passenger cars. But, most amtrak trains are longer than that. Do I back the trains in and allow them to stick out and block switches, or do I break up the train and use two or three tracks for just 1 train? I plan to run trains that are anywhere from 3-5 cars long. What do I do, and what would be done in real life? Also, does anybody have any information on the layout of the coach yard south of the station, because that will be included in the layout as well.
 
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Gary B

The Fox Valley Railroad
#2
WOW! I'll be interested in seeing this build. I'm pretty positive you can't shoehorn all that in the space, but if you want to try Google map satellite view Jackson & Canal Streets in Chicago to see what you're talking about. Also the 'el doesn't run within 4 blocks of the station. I know Metra trains back into the station so the passengers have a shorter walk and the smoke of the locomotives stays at the outer edge. I'm not sure about AMTRAK. Good luck
 
#3
WOW! I'll be interested in seeing this build. I'm pretty positive you can't shoehorn all that in the space, but if you want to try Google map satellite view Jackson & Canal Streets in Chicago to see what you're talking about. Also the 'el doesn't run within 4 blocks of the station. I know Metra trains back into the station so the passengers have a shorter walk and the smoke of the locomotives stays at the outer edge. I'm not sure about AMTRAK. Good luck
I forgot to mention, that the coach yard on my layout will be compressed down to just 5 tracks or so...because I definitely don't have room for the whole yard.
 
#4
Heh. I ride METRA to / from CUS almost daily.

The El runs down Wells St. If you exit CUS onto Riverside Plaza, the streets to the east are Wacker, Franklin, Wells, in that order after you cross the river.

METRA trains run push-pull. Engines are on the west (or south, if you prefer) end of the trains, cab cars run farthest into CUS. Trains on the south side are switched over to aux power when in the station to reduce fume build-up. (Ogilvie Trans Ctr trains do not have that restriction - maybe because OTC platforms are more open - CUS is more like a cave on the south end and it gets mighty smoky in there.)

Some Amtraks run push-pull, but I think all the long-distance trains are backed into the south side of CUS - Calif Zephyr, etc. The Saluki and Illini trains back out of the station then run onto the Air Line to head south on CN (ex-IC) tracks. Not sure about the City of New Orleans.

AFAIK, all the platforms are plenty long enough to acomodate 10-car METRA trains. Not sure about car length compared to Amtrak.

Let me know if there's anything in particular you want me to look for - I'll be back on METRA Monday or Tuesday.
 
#5
Hey thanks for the info!

The only other thing I would like to know is if there is any rhyme or reason to which trains use which platforms (IE: do the Amtrak Trains use certain platforms, and Metra others, or is it random based on availability)? Thanks again for your help--I only get to Chicago about once a year, and when I go by train, I usually come in to Millennium Station, so I don't know many details about CUS.
 
#6
Hey thanks for the info!

The only other thing I would like to know is if there is any rhyme or reason to which trains use which platforms (IE: do the Amtrak Trains use certain platforms, and Metra others, or is it random based on availability)?
METRA trains usually use tracks 2 thru 12 on the southwest side. (South side tracks are all even numbered.) Amtrak uses the remaining tracks (not sure how many there are) on the southeast side.

I don't normally ride the north side, but walking through I usually see Amtrak on the northeast tracks (next to the river) there.

Occasionally, you'll see an ATK on the METRA side or vice versa. I would speculate that happens when there's trackwork or a really late train, etc. I have never seen ATK boarding anywhere but tracks 12-16.

Side note: There is at least one track on the far east side of CUS that connects north and south sides. Hard to see because that's ATK territory and security doesn't seem to like people wandering around the ATK platforms.
 
#7
I have been on that track that connects. Last time i took the Lakeshore, we boarded on the North side(never done that before) and left via the thru track.

As far as what direction the power faces for Amtrak depends on what train it is. If it is an arriving LD train, the power will mostlikely face the station.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#8
You may need to use "selective compression" on the length of your trains. Although I model mostly the CB&Q, Great Northern, Northern Pacific during the 50's, and my new layout, currently under construction doesn't include CUS, I have one train my Dad used to ride from the northern suburbs to the Northwestern (later METRA) station. As described, the trains still run push-pull, engine leading outbound toward Milwaukee, and running backwards toward town. I honor Dad's memory, and my own by having a C&NW F-7 with a single double-decker commuter car. Yes, I know I should have more than one car, and an E-8, but the length of my available terminal siding doesn't permit. As to what the prototype would do with trains too long for a single platform is/was to break them up upon arrival. Usually the train pulls in engine first, with about 20 ft. between the engine and the bumper. The train is then broken up and the rear half of the train pulled out by a switcher, and run into the station on an adjacent track, so that passengers from the same train arrive through the same gate. After the passenger disembark, the train is pulled out to the coach yard, cleaned and serviced, and rear end cars turned on a wye or turntable. The locomotive is thus released, and it, too is turned and run around to the front of the train. The train is then backed into the station on adjacent tracks and after boarding, is re-coupled prior to departure.

Highball, track #1!
 



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