Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chicago Sightings, part 1

I spent several days in the Chicago area last week, and I managed to do a bit of railfanning during my off time.

My hotel was near Metra's North Central Service (NCS) line, specifically the Prairie View station. On the morning of May 8, I got up early and shot a couple of southbound Metra trains.

06:24 Southbound Metra train 102: METX 105 (5 cars)

06:40 Southbound Metra train 104: METX 115, METX 418 (5 cars)

In both cases the cab car was leading and the locomotive(s) trailed.

I had a free evening Tuesday night, so I decided to take Bill Linley's advice and go to Lagrange to shoot at the intersection of the CSX/Indiana Harbour Belt line and the BNSF line. As I was crawling along the interstate, I noticed a yard to my right. It turns out this was the CP Bensenville Yard.

2007/05/08 17:45, Location: Chicago (Bensenville Yard)
-- Seen from highway: CSXT 8149, NS 9915, NS 2687, CSXT 8764, SOO 1537, SOO 1544, SOO 1547, UP 3236, UP 2864, UP 2370, CEFX 118

I arrived in Lagrange (map) just as an Amtrak train rolled by on the BNSF line, with two private cars on the tail end. No time for a picture - drat.

I parked at the local library and decided to watch the IHB line for a while. There were two CSX units in the little yard just west of the BNSF line. My first sighting was a Metra train on the BNSF line:
18:11 Metra: METX 187

Within a few minutes, a Canadian Pacific freight came crawling along.
18:13 Northbound general freight: CP 8620 (70 cars)

As I taped that, an Amtrak train crossed over it at 18:14.

The next train on the IHB line was a Norfolk Southern train. I'll have a video of that online shortly.
18:23 Northbound general freight: NS 7506, NS 9763

Just after that passed, the two CSX units ran light northward. Just after they went, a Metra train crossed overhead.
18:38 Northbound running light: CSXT 9023, CSXT 9032; Metra: METX 196

The rest of the action here was on the BNSF line. I stayed down on the IHB line for a while, then decided to go up to the Lagrange station to see the rest of the traffic.
18:44 METX 191
18:52 BNSF train: BNSF 5715, BNSF 5785

19:04 Metra 4xx: (7 cars)
19:11 METX 193

The nice thing about railfanning at the Lagrange station is that you can see signals in both directions. Although I'm not familiar with American signals, it's pretty obvious that when the signal is green, a train is coming. There are three tracks there, so the signals tell you what track to watch too. I waited quite a while for the next one, noticing a group of three guys looking down the line too. I assume they were railfans but they had no cameras nor did they seem to take any notes.
19:28 METX 200

19:45 General freight: BNSF 5093, BNSF 7072, BNSF 8060
19:50 Bare table train: BNSF 575

The light was really failing by this time, so I decided to head out. As I was walking to my car, I shot one more Metra train. The light was so bad that I shot at ISO 400 and ended up with shutter speed 1/20s and aperture F3.2.
20:06 METX 1x6

That was a great location - 14 trains in 2 hours.

See part 2 for more Chicago trains!

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