19.3.06

THE VALUE OF THREE MAIN TRACKS. I had some business in Chicago a few days ago, and elected to run-down my ten-ride ticket by using the Naperville Zephyr. The train I was riding, No. 1262, is due out of Hinsdale at 9.55 with additional stops including La Grange Road at 10.03. If the eastbound Illinois Zephyr is on time, it uses the center track to West Hinsdale, crossing to the south track ahead of 1262 and making La Grange Road at 9.54.

When the Zephyr is a few minutes late, it gets interesting.

The Zephyr overtook our train around Western Springs on the north track (as there are no platforms on the center track, it cannot use that track at Naperville or La Grange Road.) In the illustration, Chicago is to the right of the diagram. I have shown tracks cleared for 1262 as far as Brookfield, but the Zephyr will not be able to leave La Grange Road, as there is a westbound hopper train coming at the Congress Park home signal on the center track. There are grade crossings to the east that are not supposed to be blocked with stopped trains. I have shown the center track signalled for the passage of the hoppers.

The Zephyr cannot continue east on the north track as there is a welding crew working on the rails west of Clyde Yard. The best solution for the dispatcher: hold the Zephyr at Congress Park for the hoppers, then cross it over to the center track, where it makes a fast run into Union Station, arriving ahead of 1262. All in a day's work on the racetrack.

The ten-ride will likely get a few more uses. Although a different train line comes within 15 miles of DeKalb, its service is primarily all-stoppers. The Naperville Zephyrs will get me to Aurora fast enough to compensate for the longer drive time.

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