South Shore Line busing to end April 9, double track opens

NOW: South Shore Line busing to end April 9, double track opens

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- South Shore Line leaders announced Monday construction to the double track should wrap by early April, with new service lines starting in May.

The South Shore connects South Bend to Michigan City and all the way to Chicago. Right now, passengers must bus for part of the trip to Chicago as crews work on the double track.

But that all ends April 9, and with two tracks instead of one going back and forth, plus more trains, ride times to Chicago should speed up to only be about 90 minutes.

The busing ends April 9 but the current train schedule will continue. Then, on May 14, the new train service will start. This means seven additional trains westbound and eastbound, more rush hour trains, and hourly trains during non-peak hours.

Now, that the train ride can compete with how long it takes to drive to the city.

Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber, explained how this project leads to shorter rides into Chicago.

“It’s significant for us, and I think we benefit as much as any county up and down the line with a quicker trip into one of the biggest economies in the world,” he said. “You know, the challenge with one-way traffic was you just couldn’t get up to speed fast enough because you always had a train coming the other way, so, the fact that we can now do two-way traffic means we get up to speed faster, which makes that trip shorter to Chicago.”

The beginning stages of plans to move South Bend's station are underway, which can help further cut down travel time.

"For many, many years, we've had plans to move our station, it's at the airport, from the east side of the airport terminal to the west side of the airport terminal," Noland said. "When we get that done, we'll save 13-15 minutes of travel time on every single train to and from South Bend."

Noland said a 60-day extension was granted to finalize an agreement with South Bend Airport authority to keep the South Shore Line at the airport for decades to come.

Monday, ABC57 confirmed with South Shore Line President Michael Noland that future plans to extend the South Shore Line into downtown South Bend are officially part of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's strategic plan.

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