SSL rush hour trains are currently crowded. The SSL needs to be able to run more trains to accommodate all of its passengers. This problem will become even worse as ridership grows.
Travel time between Michigan City and Chicago on the SSL is longer than by car, making it a less desirable choice for travel. Double tracking will allow for quicker travel times.
Currently, the SSL from Gary to South Bend is mostly single track, except for one 6.5-mile section of double track and several passing sidings.The SSL and South Shore Freight Service share use of the same track. Without a continuous double track, SSL trains must wait for other passenger trains to pass before proceeding. Similarly, SSL trains heading in opposite directions must rely on the scheduled meet times and wait to proceed. If a delay occurs on the line, all of the trains behind it are affected.
There are several un-signalized, un-protected roadway crossings in Michigan City. The trains currently use embedded, street-running track in this area. Train speed in this section is limited to 15-25 mph, and safety is an issue for commuters, the freight service, pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles.
Benefits of the project include:
- Quicker travel times
- Increased service frequency
- Improved reliability
- Less need for temporary busing to get around planned maintenance
- Enhanced safety
- Opportunity for private investment and economic development resulting from faster and more frequent train service.