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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

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South Shore Line announces return of full service, end of busing between stations

Railway construction concludes, facilitating improved travel for Notre Dame students to Chicago

After more than two years of construction, the South Shore Line announced on April 9 that all railway tracks are fully operational, bringing an end to the temporary busing between Gary Metro Center and Dune Park.

The South Shore Line — a commuter rail service run by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) — operates between Millennium Station in Chicago and South Bend Airport. Because of the South Shore Line’s proximity to campus, many Notre Dame students use the line when they need to travel to Chicago.

“Right now, we are very pleased with how things have gone. All parties involved are pleased with it, and at this point it is looking on time and in budget,” David Wellman, the communications manager for the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NIRDA), said. 

Construction on the tracks began in late 2021, and the busing between stations began in February, 2022. The construction is part of a 20-year strategic business plan put together by the NICTD and the NIRDA. Part of the plan was to transform the single track portion of the railway between Michigan City and Gary into a continuous double track. According to the South Shore Line’s website, this will allow for the line to add 14 weekday trains for more frequent service, reduced delays and improved travel times.

“It’s really been an all hands on deck project. We‘ve been proud to lead this, but we have a bunch of great partners. We’re going to be seeing the fruits of these projects in terms of economic development it will bring probably very soon,” Wellman said. 

Upon the completion of this project, Wellman said he does not anticipate any more track construction that would shut down the railway between South Bend and Chicago in the foreseeable future. 

Although this marks the conclusion of the construction, for many tri-campus students, the construction over the past few years has proven cumbersome for traveling to and from the city.

“It’s literally the most inconvenient thing ever,” senior Ashley Cho said. 

Cho takes the South Shore Line every time she flies home to Los Angeles. Because there are no direct flights that leave from South Bend International Airport, she flies out of Chicago whenever she travels home.

“​​Unless you’re from one of those hubs that fly in and out of South Bend, it’s so hard for flights,” Cho said. “There is no reason for a train to take three and a half hours.”

Senior Roman Fresquez most recently took the South Shore Line over spring break. After returning from spring break in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Fresquez and his friends spent the day in Chicago to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The group took the South Shore Line back to South Bend. 

“The flight from Mexico to Chicago felt shorter than the ride from Chicago to South Bend,” Fresquez said. 

As seniors, both Cho and Fresquez won’t be able to capitalize on the return to the fully operational service for much longer as students. However, Cho said she’s looking forward to using the fully operational service when she returns for game days as a graduate. Fresquez, on the other hand, recognizes how younger students and other commuters will benefit from the finished construction. 

“I’m unhappy that I’m leaving and I don't get to experience it, but I guess I’m happy for everybody who gets to who doesn’t need to take the bus anymore,” Fresquez said.