Franklin Park (Tower B-12)
Franklin Park (Tower B-12)
This busy junction is easily reached. Take the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) west to 25th Avenue (Lyman Avenue) in the suburb of Bellwood. Head north on 25th about five miles to Franklin Park and turn right on Franklin Street. Turn left at Edgington Street and go north a block to the tracks. Parking is available on the south side of the tracks. It's even easier to take a Metra Milwaukee West Line train from Union Station to the Franklin Park station and walk east a few blocks. The junction is three blocks east of Edgington. To reach the diamonds, continue east on Franklin Street to the point where it curves south. See the map below.
Franklin Park is the northernmost point on the joint Indiana Harbor Belt / CSX main line from Blue Island (IHB owns the line from here south to a point near McCook Junction; from there to Blue Island it is CSX property). The double track main enters from the south, curves west and feeds into the triple track Milwaukee West Line now owned by Metra, Chicago's commuter rail agency. Trains off the IHB travel to Canadian Pacific's Bensonville Yard, which lies just west of the town of Franklin Park. The yard formerly belonged to Soo Line and before that to the Milwaukee Road. The West Line was itself the property of the Milwaukee before Metra purchased it back in the 1970s. CP has trackage rights on Metra, whose ownership extends west to Elgin where its commuter trains terminate. From there, the tracks run to Kansas City and until early 2002 belonged to I&M Rail Link (a subsidiary of Montana Rail Link), who bought the line from CP in the early 1990s. The route was then purchased by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, and was renamed Iowa, Chicago & Eastern. In 2008, Canadian Pacific bought DM&E, so the line is now back in CP's hands.
At the junction, the Metra/CP tracks are crossed by Canadian National's ex-Wisconsin Central, ex-Soo main line (see picture below). The IHB main begins just west of the diamonds and curves south, running parallel with the CN/WC line. Traffic is fairly heavy on both Metra/CP and IHB/CSX, with the latter seeing close to 25 trains a day. In addition to its own trains, the IHB features trains of CP, Norfolk Southern, CSX and the Belt Railway. The CN/WC line also features Metra's recently inaugurated North Central commuter trains that enter from the north and cross over here to the Metra/CP line via a connector in the northeast quadrant. Transfer freights also use this connection to access Schiller Park yard about a mile north of here. South of here, the CN/WC route sees little traffic, and with CN's purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, it is expected to decline even more.
The Metra line sees many commuter trains during rush hours. CP freights are infrequent on weekdays, with most running after the evening rush. Belt Railway transfers are occasionally seen on this line as well. A tower was once located in the southwest quadrant of the Metra-CN crossing, but was closed in 1996. Fortunately, it was preserved and moved further west toward the downtown area of Franklin Park near the IHB connection. Nowadays, it is sheathed in vinyl siding and houses a small museum.
Prior to December, 2006, the IHB line ran a few blocks west of CN/WC and curved into the Metra line near Edgington Street. A snaky connector track connected CN/WC with IHB just south of the diamonds. Both the IHB main and the connection have now been eliminated and the tracks removed. The new alignment alongside the CN/WC reduces the number of grade crossings south of here, and consolidates train movements in the area to one location instead of two.
Metra/CP: 160.770, 161.520
IHB: 160.980, 161.070
At Edgington Street, you can remain on public property and see plenty of action. The crossing itself can be accessed by walking or driving further east on Franklin Street to where the street curves sharply to the right. The crossing is just to your left. Access is more difficult here, but a pretty good view of the diamonds can be had from Franklin Street. At both locations, you are south of the Metra/CP tracks making photos easy to come by.
For more on the Metra Milwaukee West Line, see Bensenville, Cragin and and Western Avenue. See also Other North Side Junctions for Pacific Junction.
For more on the CN/WC route, see Deval. See also Leithton at Other North / Northwest Suburban Junctions.
For more on IHB mainline junctions, see Blue Island Crossing, Dolton, LaGrange, and Hohman Avenue. See also Calumet Park at Other South Suburban Junctions, Gibson at Other Northwest Indiana Junctions and Argo and Chicago Ridge at Other West / Southwest Suburban Junctions.