South Shore train to visit some of my relatives in NW Indiana. As I waited on the train platform in East Chicago late in the evening Friday night, for the West bound train to arrive and take me back downtown to the hotel, I noticed a double set of tracks. This was present on both South side (between platform and slope down to the parking lot) and the the North side (between platform and the I-80 Toll Road).
Now, my father is a train fanatic. He loves trains more than any other form of transportation - which I think is from his youth growing up in WWII era Germany and Poland, and he taught me that the standard rail gauge is 56 inches in the US. My father also took this exact same train for dozens of years of his working life, several summer with me in tow to work minimal wage jobs in downtown Chicago with him as he worked at a Unionized bindery shop. I never remember seeing a double rail in all those years, but here it was, clearly laid out, on rather new rails. All 4 rails were shiny - so they were being used, regularly.
So I snapped the picture with my dumb phone, and emailed it to my dear wife, who easily forwarded to my blog's gmail (yes, I'll get an iPhone someday, maybe), and I asked my father "what is this?" I inquired to him if they've introduced a new narrow gauge, or if this was a second set of tracks, running in parallel. My father explained to me, that the South Shore laid new sets of tracks for the very profitable freight trains that use the same line, after a slightly wider freight train swiped too close to the platform and threatened passengers who were unaware (or perhaps who were trying to get hurt when a massive speeding freight train came past and the blaring announcement to 'STAY AWAY FROM THE EDGE OF THE PLATFORM' were perhaps falling on deaf ears). So there's the original set of passenger rails, and then there's a 2nd set of freight rails that are another 18 inches farther away from the passenger platform.
1 year ago