The South Shore Line (SSL) is a 90-mile electrically powered commuter rail line that operates from South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana, to Millennium Station in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Currently, the SSL commuter line operates for 17 miles on a double-track right-of-way from 115th Street in Chicago to Gary, Indiana. From Gary to South Bend (approximately 59 miles), the railroad is mostly single track, except for one 6.5-mile section of double track and three separate passing sidings that total 2.2 miles. Most of the SSL commuter line shares trackage with the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (CSS) freight service. The SSL commuter line borders and provides train service through the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. For approximately 2 miles in Michigan City, Indiana, the railroad track is embedded within 10th Street and 11th Street, and trains operate within roadway ROW alongside automobiles. The current track configuration within the roadways in Michigan City, coupled with a stretch of 36 at-grade crossing conflicts within 3 miles, present safety issues for commuters, motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Present SSL weekday commuter service includes 19 inbound trains and 20 outbound trains that serve Chicago. The SSL links northwest Indiana to centers of commerce such as the Chicago Central Business District. Currently, nearly 70 percent of daily SSL commuter trips are work-related. SSL commuters frequently experience delays and long travel times because of the limited capacity of the single track for the majority of the corridor. Existing capacity is already constrained, with future increases in ridership expected to compound problems.