Chicago, South Shore & South Bend


The Last Interurban: Story of the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad

The Chicago South Shore & South Bend (CSS&SB) is an electric passenger line which runs from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana.

Starting from Randolph Street (now called Millennium Station), the CSS&SB run out on the METRA Electric (former Illinois Central), to Kensington Junction. At Kensington the CSS&SB leave METRA owned tracks and turn southeast to 130th Street. From here the lines runs east into Indiana, through Hammond, Gary, along Lake Michigan to Michigan City. From Shops (the railroad’s headquarters in Michigan City) the line continues east to South Bend, where electric passenger operations end.



When your South Shore train pulls into the Gary Airport station, you might see something like picture above. The “Plan” is that  Hyperloop One and The Muhammad Ali Hyperlink will construct an Hyperloop from Louisville, Kentucky. The “last mile” into Chicago will be over the South Shore Railroad. Poor Louisville has been stuck for years with no AMTRAK service.


Control of the CSS&SB is currently with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD). The Anacostia & Pacific Corporation bought the line from the Venango River Corp. in 1990. Venango River took control of the line from CSX in 1984. Due to some bad management and financial difficulties, the CSS&SB declared bankruptcy and was going to discontinue passenger operations in 1989. Although the ICC approved the stopping of service, passenger operations continued anyway due to an agreement with the NICTD to continue service.

The CSS&SB line runs for 73 miles, plus the 15 miles of track that is shared with METRA north of Kensington Junction. Passenger service on the South Shore dates back to 1903, with the opening of the 3-mile streetcar line Chicago & Indiana Air Line Railway. In 1925, Samuel Insull purchased the line, renaming it the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad. The line was upgraded and the power system converted to DC, allowing South Shore trains to operate on Illinois Central’s electrified commuter line from Kensington to Randolph Street Station in downtown Chicago.

Four counties formed the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) in 1977 to provide funding for the South Shore’s commuter service, after the railroad filed a petition with the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon service. In 1982, the agency purchased a new fleet of electric M.U. cars from Sumitomo Corporation built by Nippon Sharyo. NICTD began managing the South Shore’s commuter service in 1989, after another proposal to abandon service was filed and this time approved. In 1990, NICTD purchased the right-of-way from new owners Anacostia & Pacific, who retained trackage rights for freight operations.

In November 1992, South Shore trains began using a new eastern terminal at the Michiana Regional Airport in South Bend.

Daily service is provided on an 89-mile route between Chicago, Michigan City, and the South Bend Airport, serving 19 stations. Between Kensington and Chicago’s Randolph Street Station, South Shore trains operate on METRA’s Electric Line, but use their own platforms at Randolph Street. The service is partially subsidized by METRA.

The South Shore is one of only two passenger rail systems in North America that operates exclusively on electric power. (The other is the SEPTA Regional Rail system in Philadelphia.)

Ridership on the South Shore averages nearly 12,800 passengers on weekdays, and the agency recorded a total of 3.6 million trips made in 2000.

Your ride on the South Shore will be shared with freights. Usually they run orange diesels and haul a lot of steel coil cars; some covered, some open. Some sidings are still wired even though no electric freights exist anymore.

Northern Indiana winters can be rough because of “lake effects” from Lake Michigan. The South Shore has a lot of experience with this. Crews are dispatched to clear snow, salt platforms, and salt parking lots whenever a moderate amount of snow accumulation is forecast. Line crews and diesel locomotives are kept on standby. Because it is mostly rural, service between Shops and South Bend is suspended first in an effort to keep passengers safe and minimize their exposure to extreme weather conditions. When trains are delayed, railroad police are assigned to keep the stations open. Because most of the equipment is nearly 20 years old, it is susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Coupling mechanisms, air compressors and toilets freeze, doors stick and motors short out.

Ten new cars are going into service. I saw a couple being tested between Shops and Dune Park. They follow a westbound train from Shops to the siding at Dune Park; then follow an eastbound train back to Shops. These cars will be added to existing trains to relieve overcrowding. 41 daily trains are now on the schedule.

Older cars are currently going through a three to four year modernization program which includes replacing many worn components and installing new AC motors. The program also includes new bridges to replace several 1908 structures and a new station in East Chicago. Money is needed to replace the power distribution system that was put into service before movies had sound and replace a signal system that was in place when Babe Ruth was still hitting home runs. The Hammond parking lot was recently increased to a capacity of 600 cars.

NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District) is funded as follows: Passenger Fares $13.5 million State of Indiana funding $10.2 million Federal funding $2.4 million Other (lease to South Shore Freight, etc) $5.1 million

Shown below is a simplified timeline of the South Shore
· 1901 – Chicago & Indiana Rail Line Railway Incorporated. A small streetcar line is built between Indiana harbor and East Chicago, Indiana.
· 1908 – Now called the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend, the line runs from Hammond to South Bend.
· 1909 – The line is extended to Kensington Junction with a connection to the Illinois Central.
· 1925 – Samuel Insull begins to reorganize line. Line is renames Chicago South Shore & South Bend.
· 1956 – Bypass is created around streets of East Chicago along new Indiana Toll Road.
· 1967 – Chesapeake & Ohio gets control of CSS&SB
· 1981 – C&O ends electric freight operation on line.
· 1984 – Venango Corporation buys CSS&SB from C&O

I have assembled some facts on the line based on some of my trips:



On the Illinois side, which is funded by METRA, the South Shore platforms at Randolph Street (Millennium Station) are now covered and lighting has been increased. There are still some track outages (Track 8 and Track 9 are almost ready). The entire project is part of Chicago’s Millenium Park project. Work on the station interior is on hold until revised designs can be approved by the City of Chicago.



Most unusual sighting here was a single CSX locomotive pushing several tank cars and a caboose. Also Canadian Pacific 9141 running light and NS pulling a group of double door boxcars out of South Chicago Ford Assembly.



Dearborn and Brunswick in Hammond, Indiana is the crossing of
– The CSX (former B&O Chicago Terminal)
– The NS (have seen their local in the Hammond station a lot as well as “NORX” coal trains.)
– The Indiana Harbor Belt (location of their Burnham Yard)

To get there (other than on the South Shore): if coming from the north or city, take the Dan Ryan to the Calumet (I-94) expressway. If coming from the south, get onto the Calumet Expressway (I-94). Exit at 130th Street eastbound. Drive east to Brainard Avenue, turn right. After turning right, the road turns about 45 degrees to the left. You will be heading southwest along the CSS&SB tracks. After crossing into Indiana, and crossing the IHB branch, Brainard Avenue becomes Indiana Route 132. Soon after this, turn right onto Dearborn Avenue. Cross the CSS&SB tracks and turn right on the next street, Brunswick. Drive to the end and turn left into the parking area by the crossing. Traffic level is not as great here as it used to be when the IHB, EJ&E, B&O, C&O, N&W, and the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad used to all cross here.


East Chicago

Most notable sight here is an old coal tower (either IHB or EJ&E?)


Clark Road:

This station is convenient to the Chicago-Gary Airport. If this airport were picked to be Chicago’s third airport, the South Shore would already be in place to provide fast service to downtown. Unfortunately, it won’t be picked because it is across the state line.



Old New York Central timetables (April 1, 1937, Form 1001) state that train #26 will stop at Gary on signal for passengers for Albany and beyond, also #25 will stop at Gary to discharge passengers”. (#25 and #26 are, of course, the 20th Century Limited). Gary station is still in place near the South Shore station, but all boarded up. Gary is where there is usually a train meet because the double main currently ends here.


Ogden Dunes

This station is near the Burns Harbor steel mills. Bethlehem Steel has a lot of railroad action that can be seen from the South Shore. Their railroad is called the Lake Michigan and Indiana Railroad Company. Recent sightings include black GP #8735 running light; three reddish switchers parked; a lot of coil cars; covered hoppers; scrap gondolas.


Dune Park

Here’s where I get off the train when I travel, so enough for now.



Chicago, South Shore and South Bend train running down 11th Street in Michigan City, Indiana.


8/21/2007 Real Estate Development Chicago SouthShore & South Bend to develop industrial park in Indiana

The Chicago SouthShore & South Bend Railroad is taking on a new role: industrial park developer.

The 182-mile short line recently announced plans to develop the 105-acre “39 Railroad Industrial Park” in LaPorte, Ind.

Adjacent to an Indiana State Road exit on the Indiana Toll Way, the park will feature rail and highway access.

Owned by

Anacostia & Pacific Co. Inc. , Chicago South Shore interchanges with all the Class Is serving the Chicago area, as well as the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad; Belt Railway Co. of Chicago; Chicago Rail Link; Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway; Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.; Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd.; Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corp.; Manufacturers’ Junction Railway; and South Chicago and Indiana Harbor Railway Co.



Citizens for the Extension of the South Shore Line (CESSL) is a grass roots organization promoting the extension of the South Shore Line, Northwest Indiana’s commuter train system. The ultimate goal of CESSL is the extension of the South Shore Line south to Lowell and southeast to Valparaiso, all with more stops and more rail-cars to accommodate more riders.

The extension of the South Shore Line bears numerous benefits, all of which will ultimately be beneficial to the Northwest Indiana region as a whole. Economic development, quality of life, and environmental concerns are at the top of the list. Rising fuel costs, increased congestion on existing thoroughfares, concerns over green house gasses, global warming and the health concerns that accompany increased emissions all raise red flags, signaling a need for improvement in public transportation. Finally, and maybe more importantly, the extension of the South Shore line will help to make Northwest Indiana a more attractive place for families and professionals to relocate, for businesses to establish, and for tourists to visit and enjoy.

Lots of talk about the route that the expanded operation will take into Chicago. The city of Hammond bought the Monon right of way for use by a future commuter rail line. I don’t think they will sit by quietly and let the new service go literally right around them. They want a train station in the middle of downtown Hammond and they are probably the biggest supporters of it. Don’t expect any cooperation between the two adjencies (Metra and NICTD) either beyond their current agreements on the IC electric line to Chicago. Illinois won’t want any of their tax dollars going to help Indiana and vice versa. Just look at how Illinois is trying to build a third airport while Indiana is trying to sell Gary as a third airport. Both states would rather spend ridicules amounts of money on something that won’t work for either party rather than work together and maybe be able to make something a go.




The board of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) in 2017 approved a $1.6 million matching grant for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District‘s South Shore Line double-track project.
The double-track project calls for adding a second full track to the existing South Shore Line from Gary to Michigan City, Ind. The line, which runs from Chicago to South Bend, Ind., has double track only from Chicago to Tennessee Street in Gary.

Check out Penney’s blog about



Railfanning the South Shore

Because the South Shore was an interurban, there are a lot of great spots to see it all the way from Chicago to South Bend. there are a lot of great spots to see it all the way from Chicago to South Bend. The best place is at “Shops” in Michigan City. Here’s a good WebSite with photos and locations.



This is great! A sign like this on the Interstate sure tells something to travelers!


Did you ever hear of a “Roller”???

A car loaded shipped toward a prospective market without a buyer. While in route the carload is sold and when it reaches its intermediate destination it is rerouted to the buyer. That is where the CSS comes in. From the time just after WWII (maybe before) until the early 1970’s the CSS was the intermediate destination for a lot of lumber coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Loads of lumber would be shipped to the CSS at Gary. Then once at Gary the car would be rerouted to its destination. The CSS was perfectly suited for this kind of work, A road that was willing to handle the extra paperwork and would less likely to loose a car, A road with the connections to all roads entering Chicago from the west and direct connections to all roads leaving to the east. Say if the average freight car transit time from the Pacific Northwest to New York City area was 12 days. A lumber yard in New York would have to wait almost two weeks from the time the order was placed until the time that the car was deliverd to the lumber yard. If a car was purchased that was already in transit it would cut literally days off time. Besides lumber, coal was another commodity that was commonly handled this way.


A car loaded shipped toward a prospective market without a buyer. While in route the carload is sold and when it reaches its intermediate destination it is rerouted to the buyer. That is where the CSS comes in. From the time just after WWII (maybe before) until the early 1970’s the CSS was the intermediate destination for a lot of lumber coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Loads of lumber would be shipped to the CSS at Gary. Then once at Gary the car would be rerouted to its destination. The CSS was perfectly suited for this kind of work, A road that was willing to handle the extra paperwork and would less likely to loose a car, A road with the connections to all roads entering Chicago from the west and direct connections to all roads leaving to the east. Say if the average freight car transit time from the Pacific Northwest to New York City area was 12 days. A lumber yard in New York would have to wait almost two weeks from the time the order was placed until the time that the car was deliverd to the lumber yard. If a car was purchased that was already in transit it would cut literally days off time. Besides lumber, coal was another commodity that was commonly handled this way.



South Shore yards at “Shops” in Michigan City


South Shore Railroad Reference Library

List of Indiana Railroads
List of Illinois Railroads
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad
Expansion to Valparaiso
Line Car 1100 Movement
A good history of the South Shore
Ryan Kertis’s Railroad Picture Archives!
Picture of South Shore train in Chicago
Late March 2009 trip to Northwest Indiana
Great Old Time Pictures
Modern South Shore pictures
South Shore / Illinois Central Interlocking at Kensington


I sort of knew a little about the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad. I had some reference material about twenty five years old and had read somewhere that it was now a regional transportation authority and that it had gotten new equipment.

My book told me that the C,SS&SB was the principle suburban service southeast and east of Chicago and that it operated electric Multiple-Unit passenger service between Chicago, Hammond, Gary, Michigan City and South Bend. It was referred to as the last interurban railroad operating in the United States. It also operated a profitable freight service using GE “Little Joe” electrics and former New York Central “R” Class freight motors.

Michigan City looked like a convenient place to find this line. I described to my friend what overhead catenary was (remember, he’s from Florida) and said the game plan was to find a the rail line and follow it to a station. We couldn’t get lost because it had to be between the Interstate and Lake Michigan. Almost into Michigan City, we saw a “train station” exit marked on the Interstate. We exited and saw the Amtrak station at New Buffalo. The Amtrak “bus shelter” was overwhelmed by the old station which had been turned into a museum (closed?). Proceeding back on our course, we saw the overhead wire and paralled it into Michigan City. Some of the time I couldn’t see it, but knew it was just off to the right. All of a sudden it ran into the middle of the street and just stayed there! We drove down the street with the track right in the middle of the street! Michigan City didn’t seem like a really nice place. All it had going for it was a nuclear power plant and a large prison. Going down the street with the track in the middle (11th Street), we finally saw the South Shore station. It was closed and boarded up and a Amtrak-like “bus shelter” was in front. There didn’t seem to even be a place to park a car for a few hours and certainly not overnight. We decided to go back to South Bend and see what was there. Again, we paralled the railroad as much as possible. Nearing South Bend, the railroad ran next to the road on a private right-of-way. Suddenly what looked like a siding crossed the road and headed towards the warehouses surrounding the South Bend Airport. We continued straight until we suddenly realized there was no more wire over the tracks. Just then, the track dead-ended at a rusting “trailer on flat car” loading ramp. We turned around and headed for the airport. The tracks finally ended at one end of the airport terminal where a new train station with an overhead canopy, benches a waiting room and ticket office were located. I had half expected the end of the line to be something like the boarded up 11th Street Station with rusting hulks of old NYC “R” Motors lying around. What a surprise.

Only five trains a day serve the Michiana Regional Airport in South Bend. A robust 16-trains a day schedule originates from “Shops” on Carrol Avenue in Michigan City. “Shops” is just what it sounds like: the railroad’s major yard/repair facility/etc. And to think I missed it when I went to Michigan City! A typical train from South Bend to Chicago takes two hours and twenty minutes. One way peak fare is $8.65 and off-peak is $4.30 (a lot less than the Long Island for a similar distance). Monthly commute is $241.65.

After South Bend and Michigan City, the South Shore goes through nine stations including Gary and Hammond before joing with the former Illinois Central at Kensington. There are five more stations before the trains end up at Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.

Some of these stations are “flag stops” equipped with a light for passengers to use at night.

Bicycles are not allowed but “babes in arm” are free. Handicapped and elderly pay a reduced fare but military personnel do not. Two under-eighteens are free with an adult during off-peak periods. Monthly tickets can be purchased by direct debit to your checking account.

The railroad is run by the “Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District”. The South Shore shares station stops in Chicago (ex-Illinois Central trackage) with METRA (the Chicago-area transit authority). At intermediate stations in Chicago, passengers must enter and exit stations through locked turnstiles. METRA tickets are encoded to unlock them but South Shore tickets are not. Passengers must use a nearby phone, called a Pal Phone, identify themselves as a South Shore patron, and have an agent unlock the turnstile.

The ride from South Bend to Kensington is either rural or through tired old cities like Gary or East Chicago. Kensington is where the historic town of Pullman is being restored. The town of Pullman (founded 1880 by George M. himself) was the realization of a vision by its founder of a manufacturing town that offered all class of workers a quality of urban life unequalled anywhere. 59th Street Station is the exit for the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. 23rd Street Station is across the street from McCormick Place, the largest indoor exhibit area in the United States. Roosevelt Road Station is adjacent to Soldier Field. Van Buren and Randolph Street Stations are in the heart of the Chicago “Loop”. Convenient connections can be made to the CTA trains to airports, Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park and hundreds of other attractions.



The South Shore’s line car is an old converted interurban



South Shore Freight locomotives rest at Shops



South Shore interurban crosses street at grade near Shops in Michigan City





Late Trains on the South Shore

What are all the different causes for delays to South Shore trains?

1. Track Construction.

2. Having to wait for late-running Eastbound/ Westbound train while approaching single track.

3. Having to wait for Metra trains.

4. Late turn of equipment (caused by train arriving at Randolph/ Gary Metro/ Carroll Ave./ South Bend too late).

5. Interfearence from stalled/derailled trains.

6. Red/ black/ malfunctioning signals.

7. Speed restrictions caused by extreme weather (Ex: Extremely hot weather).

8. Car blocking the crossing.

9. Mechanical failure.

10. Unusual circumstances (Example: A couple of months ago on a Sunday train from South Bend, the train was stopped at the Carroll Ave station because of somebody reported her money being missing. The conductor said “No one is boarding or leaving this train until we find the money! The cops are coming!”

11. A medical emergency.

12. Higher than normal passenger boarding.

13. Passenger being bounced from train for missing stop, disorderly behavior, boarding without ticket or money, etc., and slow to leave the train when ordered.

14. Being behind a late-running train.

15. I like the one where someone is faster than his buddies and runs like mad to the train, and then HOLDS the doors open until they catch up and get on board. That will slow you up. Usually the conductor hops on the PA and yells like mad.

16. Passenger applies emergency brake.

17. A common one: Adding/removing cars in middle of route (Usually at Gary Metro or Carroll Ave.).

18. One was a woman that decided to get off the train as it was leaving Hudson Lake by jumping out the little engineers window of the car, and they had to wait for police etc to get there. Turns out she was off her medication at the time.

19. The other was a guy that was so intent on not missing his train at Randolph St he ran down the platform after it and hung onto the ladder on the rear car until Van Buren…once again Police was called.


Old Flag Stops

A: discontinued between 1947-1961
17-Ford City
21-White Oak Avenue
B: discontinued between 1961-1971

15-124th Street
54-Lake Shore (pretty sure service ended in 62)C: discontinued between 1972-1991
17-Calumet Harbor
30.2- Gary Buchanan St
46-Port Chester
51.4-Tamarack Pines
67-Tee Lake
73.9 Lake Park
84-Chain O LakesService ended at Ambridge St, Dune Acres, Keiser, Laumier, Rolling Prarie and New Carlise in 1994.

Bridge, Hillside, Saugunay, Olive and Fisher closed prior to WW2.


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