South Shore Line apologizes for recent delays

South Shore Line

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Shore Line opened its new double track service on May 14, and the roll out has been less than smooth for riders who have consistently faced 10- to 20-minute delays, sometimes much longer. 

Earlier this week, multiple trains were delayed, and a handful were even cancelled due to issues with the company's Positive Train Control system.

On Friday, company president Michael Noland issued an apology to riders. He says that while the South Bend to Chicago route has been an achievement, making the trip consistently in just an hour and 50 minutes, a time the rail company says is the best in the history of the railroad, many other routes have suffered. 

Read his full statement below.

Dear South Shore Line Riders,

The excitement of opening the new service made possible by the Double Track project is just ten days old, and, as most of you who have used the new service know, we haven't yet fully delivered on our promised improvements. We have added 14 additional trains to our weekday schedule, offering many more service choices. From a reduction in travel time perspective, we have examples of real success.

One example is train #8 out of South Bend, which is making the trip in 1 hour 50 minutes every day - the best in the history of the railroad, including a stop in Michigan City in just 67 minutes. Also, trains #102 and #104 are arriving on-time daily. That being said, we are running consistently late on many other trains, incurring an average of 10-20 minutes of delay, with some trains exceeding these delays. While most new trains are running according to the timetable better than our old schedule, we are not meeting the promised schedule. This is a false measure of success. We need to deliver the service that we promised, and I, along with the entire South Shore Line team, promise that we will do everything in our power to make this happen.

I must emphasize that our number one priority, as always, is safety. Safety will never be sacrificed to improve operational functionality. I also want to reassure our passengers that our performance issues are not due to a lack of effort. Our employees, especially our train crews, have been simply exceptional during this challenging time. They are working tirelessly to bring you the best service possible. The crews are keenly focused on communicating schedule issues, concerns, and opportunities to the larger team daily, and we are diligently incorporating their helpful ideas and addressing their concerns.

To date, we have identified over 40 different ideas that can enhance our service. Some of these ideas have already been implemented or will be in the next few days. These ideas are already translating into improved performance. We know that the additional ideas will further improve our performance as they roll out. Please be assured that we are fully committed to improving our service delivery and living up to the high expectations we have set.

While it may be a lot to ask, please give us the time to work out our schedule issues. It has been suggested to me that our schedule is unrealistic and that we should adopt a simple solution of adding more running time to our schedules. I can commit to you that all options to improve service are on the table, and, at the end of this process, there are trains for which we may add schedule time. But to do so right now would be taking the easy way out, and it would not maximize our incredible investment in the railroad.

We have already heard constructive suggestions from our riders - thank you to those who have contacted us. We would like to hear from other riders with schedule improvement ideas. We will soon release a passenger survey to gather your feedback and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Our process is one of focused, continuous, daily, and, at times, hourly improvement. We will continue to roll out the implementation of these optimizing ideas over the next month. I know it is a lot to ask, but we request that you continue to be patient with us and give us a chance to deliver on our promises.

On behalf of the 400 employees of the South Shore Line, we deeply appreciate your patience and understanding during this transitional period. We are committed to delivering you the best commuter rail service in the country. We have set a high bar to achieve success, but you should expect nothing less from this railroad, and we will accept nothing less.

Finally, I want to emphasize our commitment to maintaining an open dialogue with our riders. We will be updating you on the progress we are making to implement our service improvements on a biweekly basis. Your feedback and suggestions are invaluable to us, and we encourage you to continue sharing them.

Best regards,

Michael Noland
South Shore Line/NICTD

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