Chicago Transit

Officials cut ribbon on South Shore ‘double track' to streamline commute times

The project checked in at more than $600 million, but will significantly reduce commuting times

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The South Shore train line has a long history of taking commuters from downtown Chicago and into Northwest Indiana, but it’ll do so even faster thanks to improvements officially unveiled Monday.

The service, which originates at Millennium Station at the intersection of Randolph and Michigan Avenue and carries passengers all the way to South Bend, will bring the new service into action on Tuesday, and it’s welcome news for passengers as it will cut up to 30 minutes off of commute times into Indiana.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, who rode the train for the first celebratory ride from Michigan City to Miller, praised the progress that the upgrades will allow along the line.

“On days like today you can feel it, it’s not just words, you can feel  the progress and the good that will come from it,” he said.

The faster track has been nearly 10 years in the planning and took more than two years to build. The cost was defrayed thanks to a partnership with the federal government. The feds pumped $200 million into the project, with state governments kicking in $340 million.

Another $80 million was funded locally, and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District kicked in $30 million, for a total outlay of $650 million.

Ridership because of COVID is down by 50% but Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District President Mike Noland is optimistic that the new upgrades will boost that number.

“We expect now with a continuous train ride, way better service, more train frequency, less delay and we’re going to attract riders,” he said.

The improved train has also ignited a business revival in places like Michigan City along the train route.       A new train depot along with residential condos are going up nearby.   

Indiana Rep. Frank Mrvan praised the investment’s dividends, saying that the changes are “all sparked by the double tracking.”

“We’re also creating work and wealth,” he said.

Passengers looking to take the train will pay $10 for tickets on the South Shore Line from Michigan City to Chicago, and the ride will now take less than an hour thanks to the upgrades. The additional service will go into effect Tuesday.

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