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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Plan to move South Shore station at South Bend airport receives new life

Plan to move South Shore station at South Bend airport receives new life

By | August 3, 2022

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District to seek update of engineering, environmental plans

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South Shore commuter train on S curve
South Shore commuter train on S curve
A South Shore Line commuter train begins its circuitous route to the airport in South Bend, Ind. which takes more than 10 minutes for the final 2 miles. A proposal to move the airport station is being revived. (Trains: David Lassen)

CHESTERTON, Ind. — The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is reviving long-dormant plans to relocate the South Shore Line station at the airport in South Bend, Ind.

Train at station platform
A South Shore Line commuter train arrives at the South Bend, Ind., airport (Trains: David Lassen)

At its Monday meeting, the NICTD board of trustees voted to issue a request for proposals to update engineering and environmental planning for a project to move the station from the east side of South Bend International Airport to the west side. Because of the circuitous, low-speed route involved in reaching the current airport station, this could cut as much as 15 minutes off travel times.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that the airport station, which opened in 1990, was intended to be temporary because it could use an existing spur line. A study in 2008 never gained traction, and a 2017 effort met with opposition from property owners, as well as discussion whether the station should be moved into downtown South Bend. The city of South Bend eventually began initial engineering on a downtown location [see “South Bend OKs preliminary work …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 21, 2018].

But NICTD President Michael Noland says the cost of a downtown station — which would require extensive infrastructure work, since the South Shore now ends well short of downtown — could be more than $250 million, while the relocated airport station would likely cost $50 million to $75 million.

One reason for reviving the project now: federal money available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

A station relocation, along with South Shore improvements already in progress, could make it possible, could make it possible to get from downtown Chicago to the South Bend airport in 90 minutes.


4 thoughts on “Plan to move South Shore station at South Bend airport receives new life

  1. While they’re at it, the should move the Amtrak station from the neighborhood where no one lives to some place where it’s visible and accessible.

  2. The issue with the speed of the South Shore when reaching the airport is the fact that the line runs on what used to be an industrial siding for Bendix (now Honeywell Aerospace) and a former quarry. The consist has to slow to 15mph because the ROW runs between the employee parking lot and the actual plant.

    Also this siding crosses a very busy US-20 (Lincoln-Way) and sometimes has to wait for the intersection to clear and the gates to come down before crossing.

    So to “speed it up” they would either have to elevate it using the adjacent Ardmore Trail street and bridge it over US-20, or look at a new terrain route that leaves the mainline west of town around the Country Club Road substation and enter the airport from the west. That would make a nice return loop, but wouldn’t help reach Union Station or downtown,

    To reach Union Station downtown next to the baseball stadium, they would need to add catenary as today it ends at Meade Street east of the said Bendix-Honeywell plant. They used to have catenary that reached downtown at LaSalle and Niles, but that has been gone for ages.

  3. It needs to go downtown. The trains I’ve seen to and from South Bend appear to be mostly occupied by empty seats. But there’s no simple solution to getting downtown. The NS right of way has room for an additional track or two until you get to CP 437. At that point it becomes problematic. The former Union Station will never see use again for passenger trains. The best place for a South Shore station would be the downtown transit hub. But that would not work for Amtrak.

  4. South Bend Airport seems the best bet. Transpo Route 4 serves it from downtown every 1/2 hour weekdays 5.50 AM to 7.20 PM Weekdays, hourly from 6.40 AM to 5.40 PM Saturdays but no service on Sundays. Being an airport, there are taxi and limo services and five car rental companies. Outside the security area, you can grab a bite from Bar Fly or Studebagels* or create your own popcorn at The Pop Stop. KSBN Airport is open from 4.00 AM to the arrival of the last filght which they say is around 11.30 PM.

    * Studebakers were manufactured in South Bend

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