South Shore has reached the end of the line

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South Shore has reached the end of the line

Ryan Solano, Feature

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The South Shore Line is no doubt a pinnacle to our way of life. It is our gateway to field trips, baseball games, concerts, and nights on the town. Let’s not forget that it is also essential to many people holding a job in Chicago but living elsewhere. So it was a shock to hear that something so present in our community will be shutdown.

The closure will be in effect as of January 1, 2016. The reasoning behind this sudden change actually comes from a mandate passed in 2008. This mandate requires that all rail companies integrate a new safety system by 2016 called Positive Train Control, PTC for short. PTC will act as a back-up engineer in the case of an emergency. Mike Noland, the general manager of the South Shore Line, says, “The computer system will override them and bring the train to a stop.”

While this does sound good on paper, in  reality, both the deadline and cost of the project are just too difficult to achieve. And while congress may have required this, Noland claims that they are not funding it. As it stands, there is only one company offering the new technology to South Shore and it would cost roughly 120 million dollars. And that is not even including the one to two million dollars it will cost to maintain each year or the estimated 18 million dollars it will cost to operate the new system.

Currently, South Shore has only budgeted around 43 million dollars. This is only a fraction of what is required to stay in operation. There are hopes that someone will sell the technology for cheaper and a meeting regarding further action will be held October 2. If all goes well, South Shore may reopen in 2018 but there are no guarantees. In light of the situation, Noland had this to say, “If they could shut down the government I suppose they could consider shutting down the rail system.”

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