The Board of the
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) approved NICTD
General Manager Mike Nolan to release a request for proposals for 26 new
rail cars at its meeting yesterday.
Nolan reported the
26 new cars will have higher seating capacity, which enables NICTD to
replace 32 cars that will be redirected for the West Lake Corridor with the
new cars. “I think our customers will appreciate them. Combined with the
rehab of 41 of our rail cars, with the completion of this rolling stock
acquisition, our fleet’s going to be in great shape,” Nolan said.
getting the proposals and recommending “a well-balanced, competitive
proposal” by the middle of next year.
In other business,
the Board approved a resolution banning the use of vape devices and
e-cigarettes on all train cars, stations and platforms, and restrooms. Using
these devices is still allowed in parking lots and designated areas, where
users must stand at least eight feet away from the building, per State law.
Nolan reported the
West Lake Corridor Project is moving forward since the General Assembly
doubled the state’s investment in West Lake Corridor and double-tracking by
dedicating $185 million with a potential for another $20 million in the 2019
An RFP for the West
Lake Corridor project has been released to three major
construction/engineering firms. Nolan anticipates receipt of the proposals
in early December and plans to make a recommendation at the Board’s January
Nolan reports the
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has been in touch since NICTD requested
entry into the federal grant engineering phase for the FTA’s Capital
Investment Grant (CIG) program for the double-tracking project.
The Double Track
Northwest Indiana Project will add a second set of tracks between Gary and
Michigan City in hopes of better efficiency for a total cost of $465
NICTD and FTA staff will work together on a detailed risk review before the
project can be green-lit. Nolan hopes engineering can start mid-November. In
the meantime, NICTD is working on the 264 property acquisitions required for
the project and coordinating local funding packages. Nolan said those at the
FTA are especially excited about the safety enhancement that will come as
part of double-tracking--every crossing in Michigan City will have gates,
lights, and bells.
improving, despite a year of extreme weather with the polar vortex--which
shut down the South Shore Line for five days--heavy rain, and extreme heat.
June declined 4.3 percent from the year-ago period, with a raw decrease of
71,244 passengers. The most dramatic decrease in ridership occurred on
weekend trains, with a 2.2-percent fall-off. May, April, and March 2019 saw
decreases of 4.8, 5.6, and 7.3 percent, respectively, from their respective
is still lagging behind last year, with 83 percent of trains running on-time
in June compared to 85.8-percent a year ago.
Weekday peak trains
ran 91.6 percent on-time in June compared to 93.4 percent a year ago, and
weekday off-peak trains ran 80 percent on-time compared to 85.3 percent a
year ago. Weekend trains, however, ran 74.8 percent on time this June, which
is an improvement over the year-ago 71.7 percent.
South Shore Line
trains are considered late if they run more than six minutes behind
Control (PTC) is a federally mandated system designed to stop trains
automatically before certain human-error incidents can occur. Implementing
PTC costs approximately $2.5 million per mile.
than 1,500 South Shore trains, 112 trains per week, have operated under PTC
on 61,000 track-miles with few issues. While almost every train was turning
in trouble tickets at the time of the program’s launch, the incidence has
decreased to approximately one in every eight trains.
Many of the issues
are human factors or problems initializing trains at the underground
Millennium Station, where wireless service is poor, though adjustments have
been made and NICTD is working with Metra on the wireless issues.