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First section of South Shore Line's Double Track to open in coming weeks

South Shore Line

The first section of the South Shore Line's Double Track project could open in the coming weeks. The railroad has been closed between Gary and Michigan City, requiring trains to be replaced by buses, as crews build a second track.

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) President Mike Noland expects the section between Dune Park and Michigan City to reopen the week of October 16. "That will be a tremendous benefit to the project," Noland told the NICTD board Monday. "It will be a relief for our operating folks who are having to run a 26-mile bus corridor in the middle of a 90-mile railroad."

Noland said test runs have been successful, and more runs are planned next week to familiarize engineers, conductors and dispatchers with the upgraded route.

The complete Double Track route from Gary to Michigan City is scheduled to open in May of 2024. The West Lake Corridor branch from Hammond to Dyer is expected to open a year later.

NICTD is also sharing its plans for branding the services to passengers. Noland says the railroad plans to use the "South Shore Line" to refer to its entire system, with the existing service being called the "Lakeshore Corridor" and the West Lake branch being the "Monon Corridor."

"There's a lot of history that goes with the name 'Monon,' and we're restoring passenger service to this corridor that had been there 50, 60 years ago," Noland explained.

While the West Lake branch will use a portion of the former Monon Railroad, it won't take you to the town of Monon, from which it got its name. It's more than 70 miles away in White County.

"Lakeshore Corridor" is more geographically descriptive and is also a nod to the South Shore Line's history. Its official name was the Chicago, Lakeshore and South Bend Railway from 1904 to 1925.