The South Shore Line is an electrically powered interurban commuter rail line (passenger) operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and the South Bend Regional Airport in South Bend, Indiana.
The Illinois Central Railroad-owned Kensington and Eastern Railroad was chartered in Illinois to complete the route, and was leased to the CLS&SB on April 4, 1909. That year the full line to Kensington, Illinois on the Illinois Central was completed, and from June 2, 1912, one, trains were coupled to IC steam locomotives and ran all the way to downtown Chicago.
The line entered receivership on February 28, 1925, and was bought at foreclosure by Samuel Insull's Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (incorporated June 23) on June 29. The power system was changed from AC to DC on July 28, 1926, allowing CSS&SB trains to operate directly to the Illinois Central's Randolph Street Terminal without an engine change, beginning August 29. That same year, the original line between East Chicago and Indiana Harbor was abandoned.
The CSS&SB turned a profit during World War II due to the industrial nature of Northern Indiana. However, highway competition and suburban growth led to ridership declines. By the 1950s all inter urban lines were seeing a decline in rail travel as auto travel increased. On September 16, 1956, a street-running section in East Chicago was removed with the building of a new alignment alongside the Indiana Toll Road. A truncation to west of downtown South Bend removed street trackage in that city from July 1, 1970. However, street trackage still exists in downtown Michigan City. In 1968, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O). In 1976, the South Shore filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)to end passenger service. It was not approved.
The NICTD is one of the few surviving interurban streetcar lines in the United States, with only the Norristown High Speed Line and SEPTA Suburban Trolley Lines in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area in the same category. The main yard, shops and dispatching office are in Michigan City, and NICTD corporate headquarters is in Chesterton.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway bought the line on January 3, 1967. The CSS&SB was one of six railroads with "long-distance" passenger services to decline joining Amtrak in 1971, and in 1976 they asked the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon passenger service. The ICC gave the State of Indiana a chance to reply, and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District was formed in 1977 to fund the service. The company went bankrupt, and passenger service was taken over by the NICTD in December 1989. In December, 1990, the track was sold to the NICTD, and freight service was taken over by the new Chicago SouthShore and South Bend Railroad, a subsidiary of short line operator Anacostia and Pacific.
As of November, 2005, there is an ongoing debate pertaining to plans to relocate trackage off the streets of Michigan City.
Concerns over the price of gasoline as well as the growing population of Northern Indiana has increased the ridership of the South Shore Line enough to require the addition of new passenger railway cars to the line. Plans are to add 14 new double-decker cars in 2008 and more than 100 cars over the next decade.
South Shore Line trains make the following station stops: (not all trains stop at all stations)Illinois
All stops between Randolph Street and Kensington are also served by the Metra Electric Line. Because of this, the east-bound South Shore Line is loading only between those two stops; west-bound is unloading only.