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PHOTOS: CHICAGO LINE NORTHWEST - Part 2

Posted by Jersey Mike on Fri Nov 8 08:47:04 2019

In Part 2 of my 2018 trip to Chicago I will be exploring the METRA Union Pacific (formerly Chicago Northwestern) Northwest line that runs between the old CNW station and Harvard, IL about 60 miles away. Similar to the old PRR Main Line out of Philly or the former Erie Railroad lines in New Jersey, the UP Northwest line is a pretty impressive chunk of infrastructure that stops dead at the end of the commuting zone because it has become largely irreverent in today's modern freight network. While UP still owns and operates the route, there are only about two through freight trains on the line per day. However the passenger density is sufficient to support a three track main line all the way to the intermediate terminal of Barrington.

I was able to cover the UP-Northwest in two phases. The first was a mid-day outbound run to Park Ridge where I could take photos out the back. The second was a morning run from Jefferson Park to Barrington, followed by an express run to Clybourn for video purposes. You can find the gallery of still photos here (mirror).

We begin with METRA F40PH-2 #165 blocking my view of LAKE ST tower upon departure of the CNW Station.



Passing under a classic CNW signal bridge on the 4-track trunk line between the UP-North line junction at Clybourn. Note how the former CNW used the left handed or European style of traffic flow. Also note the Automatic Train Stop inductor shoes as both the North and Northwest lines are ATS equipped.



CY tower at Clybourn still controls the split between the UP-North and Northwest lines as well as several interlockings on the UP-Northwest line.



The UP-Northwest Line crosses the METRA Milwaukee North line at grade at MAYFAIR interlocking. The tower here closed in the 1990's with control being passed to CY tower.



Here we see METRA F40PH-3 #149 passing under UP-NW line automatic signal bridge 120. the 3-track line operates under a 2+1 configuration between MAYFAIR and BARRINGTON with only the center track signaled for movements in both directions. While many of the signal bridges are original, the notable horizontal CNW signals have all been replaced with modern Darth Vader types.



Signal blocks are at 1 mile intervals until one gets past Des Plains.



METRA gallery cab car #8428 at Forest Park. Stations on the line take the form of a side platform and station building on the inbound local track (so that passengers can keep warm while waiting) and a island platform serving the express track and outbound local track.



To ride the express runs, one has to get up early. CTA Blue Line 2600-series #2652 departing Jefferson Park.



Jefferson Park station from the parking lot. Why the hell are all the towns near Chicago named "Park" when the areas all around them look urban?



Shortly after arriving at Jefferson Park I caught inbound METRA train with F40PH-2 #154 and gallery cab car #8470.



Once on the outbound local I was able to catch inbound trains from the rear facing railfan window like METRA F40PH-2 #161 here with an inbound train at Forest Park.



Lightning painted METRA F40PH-3 #177 with an inbound train on the express track near Dee Road.



METRA F40PH-2 #172 with an inbound train also near Dee Road.



The morning sun makes its first appearance at Des Plains. In the winter months the morning sunrise aligns perfectly with the line.



Crossing the twin diamonds of the Iron Triangle at DEVAL interlocking. The single track is the former SOO/Wisconsin Central line now used by Canadian National to access the Chicago market from the north. The double track is the former CNW "New Line" that allows Wisconsin traffic to bypass downtown Chicago and access Proviso Yard directly. The interlocking plant was Locally controlled by a tower until 2005 when the tower was damaged by a fire. Control was passed to CY with DEVAL tower being ultimately demolished.





METRA F40PH-2 #160 on the inbound local track near Cumberland. Gallery cars with the narrow windows are older Budds and Pullmans, while the larger window cars are MK or Nippon Sharyo.



My ride for the outbound trip, METRA cab car #8452 seen here departing Barrington.



Some carbon steel Pullman coaches are still in service! METRA #7869 at Barrington along with F40PH-3 #144.





Barrington is at the north end of the 3-track raceway.



Don't be fooled by early arriving locals. Always wait for the express. METRA cab car #8463 with F40PH-2 #168 at Barrington.





Note the crowds lined up for METRA cab car #8467 and its attendant express train.



I used a GoPro to shoot video in two parts. One from Barrington to Des Plains and one from Des Plains to Clybourn. Due to the extreme cold tempatures I ran into some battery issues so please excuse the occasional jump cut.





METRA F40PH-3 departing Clybourn on the express track.



The Clybourn station has two sets of platforms for the UP-NW and UP-N lines.





The morning action is pretty much non-stop. Here we see another inbound UP-NW express train with METRA gallery cab car #8426.



CY interlocking, tower and METRA F40PH-2 #162 with a UP North Line train.



F40PH-3 #133 pushing its train under the southbound CY interlocking signal bridge while outbound #162 appears on an outbound UP-N train in the background.



Two more METRA gallery cab cars, #8472 and #8463, platform on opposite tracks.





F40PH-2 #168 with the UP-NW CY signals.



Clybourn is located at the east end of the Chicago High Line knockoff "606 trail" and the area is experiencing rapid gentrification.



I used the 606 trail to walk from the Clybourn METRA station to the Blue line stop at Damien.



To cap things off here is a photo of 3200-series car #3378 on the Orange Line at Lake St.



Well that's it for my 2018 Chicago trip. Next week it's time to hit up New York City for another adventure on the Nostalgia train.


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