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Posted by: E8M 86 A-B
Posted on: Mar 17th, 2017, 12:58am
It is now over 54 years since the last of the "North Shore" (CNS&M) trains lowered their poles for the last time, in January, 1963.
At that time, the private auto and the associated network of freeways, highways, and turnpikes were thought to be the way of the future; why ride to and from work aboard a "clunky old electric train" (the North Shore trains had little problem in hitting between 80 and 90 MPH!) when you could easily drive door-to-door in your own flashy new De Soto FireFlite or Plymouth Savoy?
And, if you didn't care to drive, you could always choose a sleek, modern, air-conditioned bus, to carry you comfortably between Suburbia and Gotham.
That indeed was the tone of the times, the 1950's and 1960's, when private autos and pristine suburbs both personified the Great American Dream.
No one then, could have forseen the day when electric mass transit would be making a comeback (LA is an excellent example of this; the famed PE "Red Cars" were, at last, deemed old fashioned and antiquated, far inferior to modern autos and air-conditioned buses.
Like the "Great Third Rail" (the CA&E, whose passenger service suddenly expired in 1957, stranding hundreds of commuters in Chicago) the CNS&M entered the downtown Loop business district via the CTA El.
Though the CA&E was cut back to an El transfer before all passenger service was abandoned in 1957, the North Shore continued to offer commuters a one-seat ride into downtown.
Few, it seemed (except the die-hard commuters who rode the big electrics for years) mourned the passing of the speedy electric railway; yet, not long afterwards, the CTA started up the "Skokie Swift", which utilized overhead-equipped rapid transit cars to operate between Dempster and Howard (at Howard, "main line" "L" connections can be made for the remainder of the trip downtown; today, third rail has replaced the overhead wires once commonplace on "The Swift")
Though the "Swift" now provided a fast trip to and from work, school, or shopping, it was, indeed, short-sided not to extend "Swift" service further out into former North Shore territory.
When the fuel crises of the 70's reared its ugly head, mass transit (especially rail) experienced a "return to good graces", as many commuters who had been driving for years, now found mass transit a convenient option.
The sleek and modernistic "ELECTROLINERS" were barely more than 20 years old, not at all old for a railcar, when one considers the WW1-era electric MU's that were still hauling the "Dashing Dans" in and out of the Greater New York area at that time.
The two articulated trains went to Philadelphia, where they operated on the former P&W ("Red Arrow") out of 69th St. terminal, until the 1970's, now dubbed "Liberty Liners" (thankfully, both historic trains are preserved today)
Just imagine, if, today in 2017, had the "North Shore" not been scrapped in 1963, but, instead, revamped and modernized to continue efficiently serving area commuters in swift, non-polluting, electric multiple unit trains.
Of course, it IS important to remember that the CNS&M was operating in an era shy of the sizeable subsidies commonplace with today's commuter operations, both electric and diesel.
The old "South Shore", now in public ownership, continues to run to this day, albeit with modern MU equipment and updated infrastructure.
Had saner, more forward-thinking heads prevailed back in the early 60's, maybe.....just maybe...would the "North Shore" still be polishing the busy rails between the Loop and the suburbs.....it is indeed a thought worth pondering.......
Posted by: E8M 86 A-B
Posted on: Mar 17th, 2017, 1:19am
As the date of abandonment loomed nearer for stalwart North Shore commuters, placards were posted at stations proclaiming:
"OUR FIGHT IS NOT OVER! NSCA NOW GOES TO FEDERAL COURT! KEEP ON RIDING YOUR NSL.....SEND MONEY TO FIGHT"
(these placards were posted at North Shore stations by the "North Shore Commuters Association/Bank Of Highland Park, Illinois")