Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

South Shore schedule to change again on September 5

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The South Shore passenger line is tweaking its schedule again, this time to increase on-time performance as well as to better distribute ridership, crews and equipment.

The current schedule took effect June 1; the latest changes, which affect nine trains, likely will become effective Sept. 5. The new schedule was approved Friday by directors of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, the public agency that owns and operates the South Bend-to-Chicago line.

This month a major media campaign is planned to inform riders of the changes, said NICTD marketing director John Parsons.

Specifically, Train 114 and Train 14 will be consolidated and restore all 2009 stops Train 14 previously had, now arriving in Chicago at 10:28 a.m. Train 20 will depart South Bend 10 minutes later, and Train 220 will depart Gary Metro Center 10 minutes later. All are westbound trains.

Regarding eastbound trains, Train 211 added last May and Train 11 will be consolidated and restore Train 11’s previous stopping pattern, also moving Train 11’s departure to 4:02 p.m. making it an official rush-hour train. Trains 115 and 215 will be flipped with 115 departing Chicago at 5:28 p.m. and running non-stop from Van Buren Street to East Chicago. Train 215 will depart Chicago at 5:32 p.m., making all stops except East Chicago.

Lastly, eastbound Train 107’s departure time will be changed from 10:10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Responding to a question from the audience, NICTD general manager Gerald Hanas said the schedule change will not result in layoffs as of now. He noted 7 to 8 percent of the workforce has been reduced through attrition, and hiring is and will be lean; the railroad is looking at eliminating two ticket-agent positions and making administrative changes.

There was good news for passengers in that a planned temporary weekend service outage Aug. 7-9 has been cancelled. Normal weekend train service at all stations will be available. However, additional weekend outages still are planned between South Bend and Gary Metro Center for Aug. 28-30; Sept. 18-20; Oct. 2-4; Oct. 23-25; and Nov. 6-8.

Beverly Shores, Dune Park and Portage/Ogden Dunes stations in Porter County are among those affected. Passengers are encouraged to drive to the East Chicago station and board there during the outage weekends, which are needed to change out wires during the ongoing $18 million modernization of the 1920s overhead catenary system that supplies electricity for train propulsion.

Parsons said NICTD also is gearing up for this season’s Notre Dame home football games kicking off against Purdue Sept. 4. This season is under NICTD’s new weekend train schedule so he urged fans to be aware of the changes, including a special westbound train departing South Bend exactly two hours after the conclusion of the football game even if an overtime occurs.

Overall South Shore ridership at 1,823,086 through June is down 3.5 percent total passengers over year-to-date 2009. Average weekday, peak and off-peak ridership all slumped by 2.3 percent and average weekend/holiday ridership slid by 10.9 percent.

Parsons said the exception to the statistics was the June 11 Blackhawks celebration in downtown Chicago. South Shore trains typically carry about 13,900 riders on a Friday but 21,000 people rode to celebrate with their Stanley Cup heroes. “Everybody was up-close and personal on those train,” he said.

 

 

 

Posted 8/2/2010

 

 

 

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