South Shore Line

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South Shore Line
NICTD South Shore.png
A South Shore Line train passes a church in Michigan City, Indiana.
Commuter rail
LocaleChicago, Illinois to South Bend, Indiana
TerminiMillennium Station
South Bend Airport
Line length90 miles (140 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead catenary, 1500 V DC
Route map
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South Shore Line
NICTD South Shore.png
A South Shore Line train passes a church in Michigan City, Indiana.
Commuter rail
LocaleChicago, Illinois to South Bend, Indiana
TerminiMillennium Station
South Bend Airport
Line length90 miles (140 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead catenary, 1500 V DC
Route map

The South Shore Line (reporting mark NICD) is an electrically powered interurban commuter rail line operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and the South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana. Freight service over the same route is operated by the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad.


Chicago and Indiana Air Line Railway[edit]

The oldest predecessor of the line was the Chicago and Indiana Air Line Railway, chartered on December 2, 1901.[1] Service began in September, 1903, between East Chicago, Indiana, and Indiana Harbor[1] (now a neighborhood of East Chicago, but once an independent municipality). The following year it was renamed the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend Railway.[1] Revenue service began July 1, 1908, on the line from Michigan City east to South Bend.[1] An extension west to State Line Junction in Hammond, a transfer point for other railroads, opened September 8.[1]

Chicago Lake Shore and South Bend Railroad[edit]

The Chicago Lake Shore and South Bend Railroad (CLS&SB) began serving northern Indiana in 1908. It was part of the Interurban growth that was beginning across the United States.

The Illinois Central Railroad-owned Kensington and Eastern Railroad was chartered in Illinois to complete the route, and was leased to the CLS&SB on April 4, 1909.[1] That year the full line to Kensington, Illinois on the Illinois Central was completed, and beginning on June 2, 1912, trains were coupled to IC steam locomotives and run all the way to downtown Chicago.[1]

Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad[edit]

A Pullman Company electric interurban unit heading west toward Michigan City in 1980.

The Chicago Lake Shore and South Bend entered receivership on February 28, 1925,[2] and was bought at foreclosure by Samuel Insull's Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (incorporated June 23) on June 29.[1] The line handled both freight and passengers.[2] Due to the freight service, in 1946, three Little Joe electric locomotives were purchased. These locomotives had originally been constructed for the Soviet Union, but changing attitudes due to the Cold War prevented them from being delivered. These locomotives continued in freight service on the South Shore until 1983, making them the last electric locomotives in regular freight service in the United States. One, number 803, is preserved in running condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

The power system was changed from 6600 volts AC to 1500 volts DC on July 28, 1926,[1] allowing CSS&SB trains to operate directly to the Illinois Central's Randolph Street Terminal without an engine change. Trains began running to Chicago on August 29.[1] That same year, the original line between East Chicago and Indiana Harbor was abandoned.[1]

The CSS&SB turned a profit during World War II due to the industrial nature of Northern Indiana. However, highway competition and suburban growth led to ridership declines. By the 1950s all inter urban lines were seeing a decline in rail travel as auto travel increased.[2] On September 16, 1956, a street running section in East Chicago was removed with the building of a new alignment alongside the Indiana Toll Road.[citation needed] A truncation to west of downtown South Bend removed street trackage in that city from July 1, 1970.[1] In 1976, the South Shore filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission to end passenger service.[citation needed] It was not approved.

Current operations[edit]

Southbound NICTD South Shore train, led by car No. 109, seen entering the 55th–56th-57th Street station in Hyde Park (Chicago)

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway bought the line on January 3, 1967. The CSS&SB was one of six railroads with "long-distance" passenger services to decline joining Amtrak in 1971 and in 1976, they asked the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon passenger service. The ICC gave the State of Indiana a chance to reply and subsequently, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District was formed in 1977 to fund the service. When the railway went bankrupt, passenger service was taken over by the NICTD in December 1989. In December 1990, the track was sold to the NICTD and freight service was taken over by the new Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad, a subsidiary of short line operator Anacostia and Pacific.

The main rail yard, shed and dispatching office are in Michigan City, with the corporate headquarters in Chesterton.

On November 21, 1992, an extension was opened from the old terminus at the South Bend Amtrak station to the South Bend Airport.

The railroad began a three-year project in 2009 to replace all catenary on its line between Michigan City and Gary, some of which was nearly 90 years old. The project cost $18 million, and caused service disruptions on weekends (five in August–October 2009, one in May 2010 and five more in August–November 2010) while new wires were strung. The 2009 and 2010 weekend outages truncated trains at Gary Metro Center.[3] The plan for weekend outages for 2011 is to truncate service at Dune Park for ten weekends spanning from May through August.[4] During the August–November 2010 disruptions Amtrak's Wolverine provided service to the Amtrak Michigan City station.[5]

Current route description[edit]

Departing South Bend Airport, the South Shore Line makes a loop around a section of South Bend, before connecting with the tracks that ran to its former terminus. Between that point and Hudson Lake, Indiana, the South Shore Line runs parallel to Norfolk Southern's Chicago Line, also used by Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited, on the north side of the tracks. From Hudson Lake, the South Shore continues straight west to Michigan City. In Michigan City, the track runs down the middle of 11th street, crosses the line used by Amtrak's Michigan Services, and then runs down the middle of 10th street. West of Michigan City, the track travels through Indiana Dunes State Park, crosses over the Chicago Line and runs parallel to it, this time on the south side, past Long Lake. At Gary, Indiana, the route heads west to service the Gary Airport, at times running parallel to the Indiana Toll Road, to Hammond, Indiana. Just west of the Hammond station, the route crosses into Illinois, at which point the track curves northwest, through the Hegewisch neighborhood and, after crossing the Bishop Ford Freeway and the Calumet River, converges with the Metra Electric line south of Kensington/115th Street station. The South Shore Line then shares Metra Electric tracks from Kensington/115th Street the rest of the way to Millennium Station.

Future realignment and expansion[edit]

Michigan City realignment[edit]

South Shore train at the 11th Street stop in Michigan City, Indiana

Since 2005, there has been an ongoing debate pertaining to plans to relocate trackage off the streets of Michigan City.[6] In July 2009, NICTD announced its intention to relocate the Michigan City track south of its current location in order to smooth out the curves, cut down the number of grade crossings, increase speed and reduce maintenance costs.[7] The plan also calls for the replacement of both current stations with a single new station. It would be located a block west of the current 11th Street boarding location, between Franklin and Washington streets, with a modern, high-level platform and a large parking lot. The plan would require a demolition of residential and retail buildings currently located on the south side of 11th Street.[8]

The relocation effort faced a setback on March 2010 when NICTD announced that it did not have the funds necessary to complete the preliminary engineering study. Unless the funding was found, the relocation would have been postponed indefinitely since, without the engineering study, NICTD would not be able to get state and federal funds necessary to complete the relocation.[9] NICTD and the city continued to work on obtaining the funds needed.[10] In 2011 NICTD accepted bids for a $1 million study and expects to award the contract at the end of March. The study is expected to take 18 months.[11]

Service to Valparaiso and Lowell[edit]

At a legislative hearing in October 2008, NICTD officials said they would drop further study of a Munster-to-Valparaiso route, known as the West Lake Corridor, and begin study of a Gary–Valparaiso route. At the hearing, NICTD officials said the projected cost of $673 million for the Munster-to-Valparaiso route as well as low projected ridership would have made it ineligible for federal funding. The Gary-to-Valparaiso route would utilize the partially abandoned Nickel Plate Road rights-of-way. NICTD officials contend the shorter length of a Gary-to-Valparaiso run, as well as the chance to use existing tracks there, may make it a lower-cost alternative to the Munster-to-Valparaiso route. NICTD planned to apply for federal funding for a preliminary engineering study and environmental survey of the Hammond-to-Lowell leg in 2009. Building that leg had a 2008 projected price tag of $551 million.[12]

Equipment roster[edit]

South Shore Line
Coupling systemScharfenberg or Tomlinson?
A bilevel unit at Miller in 2011.

The South Shore Line operates with a roster of 82 rail cars built between 1982 and 2009 by Nippon Sharyo. Sixty-eight cars are single level and 14 are gallery style bi-level cars.[13] Most cars have high platform level double doors in the center and single doors at both ends. The single doors have employee operated traps that allow passengers to board at low level platforms. At high level platform stations, all doors on the cars in service open for faster boarding. At low level platform stations, only one door per car is opened.

Of the 68 single level cars, 48 are self-propelled cars with cabs at both ends. Forty-four of these cars were delivered between 1982 and 1983, with the final four (along with replacements for damaged cars) delivered in 1992; each car, which can operate independently, is identified by numbers "1" through "48," has a restroom and space for wheelchairs, but no support for bicycles. Illinois' RTA funded the purchase of eight of the single level cars, which are numbered 31–38.[citation needed]

In 1992, 10 trailers with no cabs, motors, restroom facilities, center doors, or wheelchair space were added to the fleet.[citation needed] Removing the restroom, wheelchair space, and center doors allowed these cars to carry more passengers than the full service cars; the trailers are numbered 201–210.

In 2001, 10 more self-propelled cars were added to the fleet.[citation needed] These are similar to the full service cars in design, except for having no restroom facility and having a cab on only one end. The single cab cars are numbered 101–110, with odd numbered cars having their cab on the east end of the car, and even numbered cars having their cab on the west end.

The maximum length of a single level car train is eight cars. When used, trailers are always placed between cab cars in a train. Self-propelled cars can operate as a single car train, although this is rarely done.[citation needed]

In 2009, 14 bi-level gallery style cars were added to the fleet, and are assigned numbers 301–314. These cars were purchased by NICTD at a discount (less than the potential cost of single level cars), as they use the same basic design as the 26 bi-level cars delivered to the Metra Electric District in Chicago in 2005.[citation needed] The gallery cars have a cab at one end and a single pantograph for collecting power from the overhead wire; a restroom and wheelchair space is also provided. A minimum of two gallery cars is needed to build a train, with one cab facing each direction. Due to power sub-station restrictions, the maximum length of a gallery car train is six cars; additionally, gallery cars cannot be mixed with single level cars in the same consist.

At the time the gallery cars were ordered, concerns over the price of gasoline along, with the growing population of Northern Indiana, led to increased ridership of the South Shore Line, requiring the addition of new passenger railway cars to the line. However, an economic recession put a sizable dent in ridership statistics.[14]

BuilderModelBuiltRoad Numbers
Nippon SharyoSingle-level electric multiple unit1982–1983, 19921–48
Nippon SharyoTrailer1992201–210
Nippon SharyoSingle-level electric multiple unit2001101–110
Nippon SharyoBi-level electric multiple unit2009301–314

South Shore and South Bend Railroad cars[edit]

Rate of accidents[edit]

In a measure of "rate of accidents" (excluding those at highway-rail crossings), the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District was the only railroad in the United States to report no accidents in 2009 and 2010.[15]

Fare policies[edit]

South Shore Line uses a zone-based fare system, with prices based on the distance traveled and stations' proximity to Millennium Station. For Hegewisch station (Fare Zone 3), fares are set by Metra. Tickets can be purchased either at the station (if there is an agent on duty) or on the train. Passengers can also purchase 10-rides, 26-rides and monthly passes. NICTD assesses a $1.00 surcharge for passengers who buy ticket on the train after boarding at stations where the agent is on duty. Children 13 years of age or younger, seniors 65 or older and passengers with disabilities are eligible for 50% reduced fares.

As of January 2010, NICTD only accepts cash, though riders can buy tickets in advance using credit cards at NICTD's website. Vending machines that accept credit cards were installed in all major NICTD stations in 2010.

During the September 25, 2009 board meeting, NICTD voted to bring weekend and holiday fares in line with weekday fares on November 22, 2009, when the new weekend schedule would take effect. The weekend and holiday fares had been lower than weekday fares since 2003 as a promotion to encourage more riders. John Parsons, NICTD's marketing director, explained that the fare increase was needed to make up for a shortfall in revenue due to declining weekday ridership.[16] The new schedule reduces the number of weekend trains that travel from Chicago to South Bend, with half of them now terminating at Carroll Avenue station.

During the January 29, 2010 board meeting, NICTD discussed raising fares 2% on June 1, 2010, and an additional 2% on June 1, 2011.[17] Five public hearings were held in March 2010 to discuss this fare increase.

Station stops[edit]

The South Shore Line and how it corresponds to the Metra system

All stops between Randolph Street and 63rd Street are also served by the Metra Electric Line. Metra owns the track in this territory. Because of this, the east-bound South Shore Line is loading only between those two stops; west-bound is unloading only.

South Shore Line trains make the following station stops: (not all trains stop at all stations)[18]

Tail end of a South Shore train
IllinoisChicagoMillennium StationMetra: Metra Electric Line
CTA: 4, 6, 19, 20, 26, 60, N66, 124, 129, 143, 145, 147, 148, 151, 157, Red Line, and Loop L at State/Lake
Pace Buses: 855
ChicaGo Dash
Van Buren StreetMetra: Metra Electric Line
CTA: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 14, 26, X28, 126, 129, 130, 132, 145, 147, 148, 151
Museum Campus/11th StreetMetra: Metra Electric Line
CTA: 1, 3, 4, 12, 129, 130, 146
McCormick PlaceFlag Stop (Weekends only)Metra: Metra Electric Line
CTA: 3, 21
57th Street (Hyde Park)Metra: Metra Electric Line
CTA: 15, 28, 55, 170, 171
63rd StreetFlag Stop (Limited service)Metra: Metra Electric Line – South Chicago Branch splits
CTA: 63
HegewischCTA: 30
Pace Buses: 355, 358, 364
East ChicagoEast ChicagoEast Chicago Transit: 1, 2, 4
GaryGary Airport/Clark RoadFlag StopGPTC: 12
Gary Metro CenterGPTC: 1, 6, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23
MillerGPTC: 13
Ogden Dunes
Portage/Ogden DunesNone
PorterDune ParkV-Line: Orange Line route (Friday-Sunday only)
Beverly ShoresBeverly ShoresFlag StopNone
Michigan City11th StreetMichigan City Transit: 1, 2, 4
Carroll AvenueMichigan City Transit: 3
Hudson LakeHudson LakeFlag StopNone
South BendSouth Bend AirportGreyhound Bus
Coach USA
Allegiant Air
Delta Connection
United Express


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l
  2. ^ a b c Economic Adjustment Study: Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad Corridor, Final Report; Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District,; March 1980; pg 1
  3. ^ "NICTD Board Meeting Minutes July 31, 2009". Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. July 31, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  4. ^ "NICTD Board Meeting Minutes December 10, 2010". Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. December 10, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ "August 7–9, 2010 Temporary Weekend Outage Cancelled". Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. July 22, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ Maddux, Stan (February 14, 2008). "Michigan City weighs South Shore track route". Post-Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ South Shore re-route map
  8. ^ Wink, Laurie (June 9, 2009). "More South Shore details released". The News Dispatch. Retrieved August 22, 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ Ebaugh, Alicia (March 25, 2010). "Funding dire for South Shore study". The News Dispatch. Retrieved March 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ Field, Matt (August 17, 2010). "City prepares to study South Shore routes". The News Dispatch. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ Field, Matt (January 28, 2011). "Bids sought for NICTD study". The News Dispatch. Retrieved February 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ Benman, Keith (December 17, 2008). "Study: Valpo-to-Munster SS line would add few riders". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District Board meeting transcript (Page 7)
  15. ^ "Table 1-7 Train Accidents by Railroad, excluding HRC". Railroad Safety Statistics: 2010 Annual Report. U.S. Dept. of Transport. April 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ Poparad, Paulene (September 28, 2009). "South Shore raises weekend fares in slumping economy". Chesterton Tribune. Retrieved February 28, 2010. 
  17. ^ Ebaugh, Alicia (January 30, 2010). "NICTD mulls raising So. Shore ticket prices". The News Dispatch. Retrieved February 28, 2010. 
  18. ^ Economic Adjustment Study: Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad Corridor, Final Report; Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District,; March 1980; Appendix A


External links[edit]