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Trackside Hot Spots Volume One

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All pictures displayed are video captures from actual program footage unless noted.

Program 115
Trackside Hot Spots Volume One

Porter, Indiana, our first Hot Spot segment, is located 44.3 miles east out of Chicago, around the southern end of Lake Michigan to the Northwest Indiana town of Porter. At the West End of town is a busy rail junction that can host 60 or more trains per day. Most of the action happens on the Norfolk Southern, with eastbound trains out of Chicago heading for destinations like Cleveland. A CSX line to Grand Rapids and Amtrak's own routing to Detroit also breaks away to the north at the junction. A freight line to Blue Island, Illinois also swings to the south.

Hayford Junction is located just outside of the Chicago city limits, east of Belt Railway's massive Clearing Yard. As freight passes in and out the Clearing Yard, it crosses a set of diamonds marking Grand Trunk Western's north south line. This is a great place to see a variety of motive power.

Route 59 station is located approximately 30 miles west of the Chicago Loop and is the first stop east of Aurora. A modern, commuter type station, it was originally constructed to ease the congestion at other nearby stations. Built in what was once a rural area, Route 59 features lots of parking (on weekends) and lots of wide-open space. But since the station was constructed, shopping malls and housing developments have been steadily creeping closer.

Long known as the home for the Electro Motive Division of General Motors; the City of La Grange, Illinois is also a busy junction point between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Indiana Harbor Belt. It is here that the Harbor Belt's trackage from Argo Yard, crosses under BNSF's high speed Chicago - Aurora mainline.

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Situated just below Lake Michigan, Porter, Indiana routinely gets dumped on by lake effect snows. One such snow storm had just ended when we arrived.

Amtrak operates the old Michigan Central line north out of Porter. In February of 1996, the very first F40PH, still moving under its own power, leads a westbound train onto the Conrail line for the run into Chicago.

Conrail operated the most trains through Porter over its Chicago - Cleveland mainline. At the junction, westbound trains could also take an alternate route on the old Michigan Central to Blue Island, Illinois.

Today all the Conrail trackage through Porter is now a part of the Norfolk Southern.

Classic Chicago neighborhoods border on the south and east side of Hayford Junction. Here, framed by trees, a freshly re-painted, BNSF GP60 leads a freight by the nearby neighborhood.

Belt Railway Of Chicago used its Alco C424's to haul heavy transfer freights around its system. New BRC management brought a new motive power philosophy and the Alcos are now history on the railroad.

The Route 59 Hot Spot is located on the Naperville/Aurora border. Constructed in the middle of a field astride Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Chicago/Aurora mainline, Route 59 is becoming more surrounded by malls and apartments.

Metra trains operate in a push-pull fashion over the BNSF. This eastbound is being pushed into Route 59. Amtrak trains pause one stop to the east at Naperville.

The triple track through the station isn't just for passenger trains.

This eastbound container train is passing a GP38-2 switching a nearby auto rack off-loading facility. Since this video was shot, the off load facility has been closed.

While taping a set of CSX units moving through LaGrange crossing on the Indiana Harbor Belt, a westbound BNSF freight timed it just right, creating this classic over-and-under action shot. Time on the site: 5 minutes. It was going to be a good day.

With two trains passing through below on the Harbor Belt, this eastbound rolled over the top. That shiny new GE diesel may look great, its dead. The SD40-2 behind is pushing it as well as pulling the train behind it.

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