Day 3 : Monday 24th October
End of cheap bashing, from now on it was pay-as-you-go as there is no day-ticket during the week on Metra (why not I wonder - I am sure it would be worth having one for off-peak travel?).
Monday was a mixed loco and track bash on Metra. Having to buy tickets for each journey at first sounds a real bind but in the event we didn't have any problems - many of the stations being un-staffed it was normal practice to purchase the ticket from the conductor on board the train. The only thing to keep in mind is there is a $2 penalty if bought on the train from a station where there is an open ticket office. Our day took us out to the end of the line at Fox Lake - out with 420 to Lake Forest then 413, back with 413 as far as Western Avenue, the stop before Chicago OTC.
Metra 105 heading the other way to us at Lake Forest...no problem, we'd
scoop it for haulage the following day!
Metra 413 at Lake Forest. New, yet very loud and claggy!
Whilst we had seen a number, this was our first chance to sample Metra's newest loco type - the MP36PH built by MPI between 2002 & 2004. Despite looking pretty ugly they are very rateable, in fact they actually make more noise and clag than the much older F40's! In fact it seems most of the modern traction today in the US is extremely rateable from the point of view of noise...and many of the locos they have the same engine in them as our 66's & 67's. Yes, it is a real shame our locos are silenced - if they weren't I know I'd be really happy bashing 66's & 67's!!
Western Avenue is a photter and spotters paradise, especially in and around rush-hours as it is at the exit to two of Metra's main depot/yards so the stock and loco movements are significant. It is also on an Amtrak route so there are GE Dash9's to see too. On this day and the Tuesday we found ourselves there a lot.
Loco, or not as the case may be. A batch of Amtraks F40's were converted to
unpowered DVT's - 90368 here on the rear of a service passing through
Western Avenue being the former loco 368.
Metra 418 and 123 were scooped on the Big Timber Lake and Antioc branches, each being an out-and-back move. The latter is of some interest as, at Prairie Crossing, it crosses the Fox Lake branch (which we did earlier in the day) on a flat crossing. The platform for each line is about 10mins walk apart!
Metra 123 pulls into River Grove as we head on our way to Antioc.
We took 123 all the way back (to Chicago Union) then for the evening rush we headed out to Joliet (Metra 182) which in itself is quite interesting as there are two routes. We of course went out one way (the "Heritage Corridor" via Lemont) and back the other ("Rock Island Line"). The station is somewhat novel in having two platforms at right angles to each other...just a shame it was dark so photographs were not possible. Definitely somewhere I will go back to in daylight sometime. After a drink (or two) in the bar in the station we returned with Metra 208 to Chicago LaSalle (the third terminal used by Metra in Chicago) and back to the Rock Island Brewery for our evening meal.
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