Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (NICTD)

115th St / Kensington Station and Interlocking (Metra)
The NICTD South Shore no longer stops at this station effective February 15th, 2012.

This station was the first stop in to and last stop out of Chicago for South Shore trains from June 2nd, 1912, to February 14th, 2012. Initial Chicago service from Indiana was provided to 111th St / Pullman on April 4th, 1909, with passengers changing trains using overhead bridges to cross the tracks. The first Kensington Interlocking allowing CSS&SB trains to travel to Randolph St in downtown Chicago (pulled by Illinois Central steam locomotives until 1926) was opened to passenger service on June 2nd, 1912.

See 2011 construction photos at the bottom of this page.

The Metra Electric platform at Kensington. This platform is used for Metra Electric District trains. The station building is located under the tracks just north of 115th St. Storefronts have been built next to the entrance along the embankment. Entrances on 115th St under the rails, including access to the former Illinois Central intercity passenger train platforms, have been closed off.

Track 2 of the Metra Electric District line runs next to the platform. The tracks to the left are Canadian National Illinois Central (CN-IC) tracks. NICTD uses the crossovers through the CN-IC to bypass the platforms at Kensington.

North of the Kensington station platform are the signals at 1420. These control the CTC section of track between 115th St and 69th St on the Metra line. The rightmost signal controls Track 1 on the CN-IC line. The crossovers in the bottom right are the new connections between CN-IC Track 1 and Metra Track 3 and Track 4.

NICTD trains enter Kensington Interlocking from the southeast past these two signals. The signals are showing a train cleared to enter the interlocking on Track 1, proceeding past the station platforms toward Chicago. The backs of the first westbound NICTD signals are shown.

A small lightly used freight yard remains just east of the mainline. To the right (out of frame) is where the NICTD main line crosses over a road approaching the signals shown in the left picture, entering Kensington Interlocking.

Kensington Interlocking (Drawings are NOT to scale)
In 2012 changes were completed to provide a direct connection between NICTD and Tracks 3 and 4 of the Metra Electric service, plus provide a better connection to the freight lines. Signaling equipment and project management was provided by NICTD. Preliminary construction began in 2010 with most trackwork completed in 2011. The new connection was placed in service in January 2012.
See construction photos at the bottom of this page.

2012 Track Layout
Single diamond track crossing all CN-IC tracks. Path through CN tracks electrified to allow NICTD trains to bypass Kensington station.
New connection between CN-IC Track 1 and MED Tracks 3 and 4 for NICTD trains.

Full connectivity between all CN-IC lines.

2009 Track Layout
Single diamond track with no slip switches or direct connection between Metra (former IC Suburban Lines) and CN (former IC Passenger / Freight Lines).

Full connectivity between all CN-IC lines. Single track bottleneck for NICTD connection (including freight trackage rights). Connection between CN and MED removed in 2004.

Old Track Layout
Reconfigured in the late 1970's. CSSSB ladder tracks had slip switches to IC Passenger / Freight lines. Slip switches also used for connection to Blue Island from IC Passenger lines. Signalling focused on current of traffic.

Double track connection to CSS&SB (Kensington and Eastern). Former double track connection to Michigan Central from K&E also shown.

115th St / Kensington - 2009

Platform 2 viewed looking northbound. The platform track is Track 2.
All four tracks to the right are CN freight lines.

Platform 1 viewed looking southbound with Track 1

Photos taken in June 2009 show (to the left from left to right) Metra Track 2 (leading north to tracks 3 and 4), CN (Canadian National) mainline tracks 1 and 2 and CN "thoroughfare" tracks 3 and 4. CN's thoroughfare ends at 79th St. The CN main lines continue north crossing over Metra at 22nd St and taking the "St Charles Air Line" to a junction with Burlington Northern just south of Union Station.

In the photo to the right from right to left are Metra Track 2 (leading south through Kensington Interlocking to University Park and Blue Island) and CN main track 1. Behind the signal cabinet are CN tracks 2, 3 and 4. Between the tracks behind the signal cabinet is the top of the former staircase to the former intercity passenger train platform between CN (then IC) tracks 1 and 2).

A closer view of the CN freight lines north of the station. (June 2009) The connection between the NICTD South Shore track 2 and Metra tracks 3 and 4 north of the station has changed this arrangement. Note that for CN, the Kensington Interlocking extends north to the switch shown here on CN Track 1.
See the construction photos at the bottom of this page for a look at the new connection.

Metra tracks can be seen headed north, left to right tracks 1 through 4, with 111th St station platforms visible between Track 2 and Track 3. The center tracks are used for local trains serving 75th St through 111th St. The next crossover is at 69th St, the diversion point for the Metra South Chicago branch. The first station north served by NICTD South Shore trains is at 63rd St (University of Chicago) with the first major South Shore stop in Chicago at 57th St.

A closer view of the CN freight lines south of the station. (June 2009) The NICTD crossover track is shown connecting between track 2 and crossing the freight lines. Kensington Tower is shown to the left. Just right of center is where South Shore trains climb the embankment, cross the CN (former IC) lines and join the Metra lines. A freight connector joins NICTD to the CN lines.

Kensington Signalling - 2009

Westbound signals at the end of the NICTD line as it enters Kensington Interlocking. Track 1 is controlled by a dwarf signal (capable of displaying lunar "Restricting" or red "Stop"). Track 2 by the three round signals (showing STOP).

The first eastbound signals on the NICTD line. CTC begins on Track 1 (with signals set to Clear for an approaching train). The Track 2 signal is covered. Track 2 is operated with Absolute Block Signalling to the next control point (CP 73.8).

A southbound (eastbound) NICTD South Shore train has received the signal to proceed through Kensington Interlocking to the NICTD South Shore Line.

The signals show clearance for a train to enter Kensington Interlocking from the NICTD line (Diverging Clear).

For more information on signals at Kensington, see the Kensington Signals page.

1998 Flashback

Kensington Station in 1998.

Just East of the station is Kensington Yard. A close up look at the interlocking signal as it appeared in 1998 is to the right.

2011 / 2012 Construction Photos


The new connections between CN-IC Track 1 and Metra Track 3 (foreground) and Track 4 (background). This photo was taken October 15th, 2011, just after the turnouts were installed. (Note the rails between the turnouts on the crossover are not connected.)

Looking south on August 27th, 2011, new catenary supports illustrate the path through the interlocking. The closest support shown here is over CN-IC Track 2. The two supports back crosses CN-IC Tracks 2, 3 and 4 with additional supports rounding the curve to the NICTD line. Note also the removal of the above ground signal wires that ran along CN-IC Track 4 (see photo above).
Below are photos taken further south along the platform showing the new catenary supports. The three track support in the left photo is where the crossover transitions from Track 3 to Track 4 southbound (with the south end support blocking the view of the signal control tower building). The supports in the right photo are on the curve connecting CN-IC Track 4 to the NICTD line.
Catenary was put in place on the new connection in November and December, 2011.

Left: An October 2011 photo shows new north facing signals have been installed on Metra Track 3 and 4 at 14-21 - the bottom signal on track 4 (left) is out of service and turned to the south. The signal on Track 3 includes a fourth light for a restricting signal. On December 4th, 2011, the overhead structure was expanded and signals were added over CN-IC Track 1 (see picture below).
Right: A new signal on CN-IC Track 1 at 14-37 includes a new two light top head (not in service and turned to the east) and a fourth light to display restricting.

On January 22nd, 2012, the new southbound signals at 1421 entering Kensington Interlocking from the north are in service. From right to left signals control Metra tracks 1 though 4 and CN-IC track 1. The crew is working on signals at 1437 near the end of the station platform.

On January 29th, 2012, the former entrance signal from NICTD stands with the heads covered. The former NICTD CP 75.3 signal is turned away from the tracks. Both of these signals were removed within the following week.


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