South Shore Line GP38-2s idle near the Michigan City shops.

(FranklinC55, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



This article is about the freight rail operator. For the commuter line with which it shares tracks, see South Shore Line.

The Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad (reporting mark CSS), also known as the South Shore Line, is a Class III freight railroad operating between Chicago, Illinois, and South Bend, Indiana. The railroad serves as a link between Class I railroads and local industries in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana. It built the South Shore Line electric interurban and operated it until 1990, when the South Shore transferred its passenger operations to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. The freight railroad is owned by the Anacostia Rail Holdings Company.


A former Chicago South Shore and South Bend "800" electric freight locomotive.

(The original uploader was Slambo at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The South Shore Line is the last remaining of the once numerous electric interurban trains in the United States. The South Shore began in 1901 as the Chicago and Indiana Air Line Railway, a streetcar route between East Chicago and Indiana Harbor. Reorganized in 1904 as the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend Railway, on Tuesday, June 30, 1908 its route reached South Bend, Indiana via Michigan City, Indiana. The company leased the Kensington and Eastern Railroad, an Illinois Central Railroad subsidiary, to gain access to Chicago. Passenger service between South Bend and Chicago began in 1909. The Lake Shore added freight service in 1916.

Samuel Insull acquired the bankrupt Lake Shore in 1925 and reorganized it as the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad, which it remains today. The railroad experienced two more bankruptcies, in 1933 and 1938. The post-World War II decline in traffic hurt the company, and it was bought by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) in 1967. In 1977, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) began subsidizing the passenger operations on the South Shore Line. In 1984, the Venango River Corporation purchased the South Shore from the C&O. Venango declared bankruptcy in 1989. In 1990, the Anacostia and Pacific Company acquired the South Shore. The NICTD purchased the passenger assets. The South Shore acquired the Kensington and Eastern Railroad from the Illinois Central Railroad in 1996.

The Surface Transportation Board classes the South Shore as a Class III railroad. The railroad operates diesel locomotives on the whole line. It also operates the former Indianapolis, La Porte and Michigan City Railroad and Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville Railroad, once part of the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate) system, from Michigan City southeast to Dillon (southeast of Stillwell), bought from Norfolk Southern in 2001. Via trackage rights it connects to many other railroads in the Chicago area, with connections to the Port of Chicago, Proviso Yard and Joliet.

The railroad's primary businesses are coal and steel. The coal is delivered to the Michigan City generating station owned by Northern Indiana Public Service Company. The railroad also serves steel mills along the line.


During more prosperous times, the railroad used posters to advertise their services, connections, events, and locations served. Many different posters by artist Oscar Rabe Hanson were printed in the early 1920s.


South Shore Line 2-8-0 No. 605.

(W. Lenheim Collection)


Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad Overview

Headquarters: Michigan City, Indiana
Reporting mark: CSS
Locale: Northern Indiana
Dates of operation: 1925–
Predecessor: The Chicago Lake Shore and South Bend Railway
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


South Shore Line ALCO-GE R-Motor No. 703 at their Michigan City Shops in 1966.

(David Wilson, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad Electric Locomotive No. 801 and coach number 1 pause in the yard between runs in this 1978 scene.

Twenty 800-type locomotives (also known as "Little Joes", but not on the South Shore Line) were ordered by USSR, but not delivered, during the cold war.

The South Shore purchased three of these almost 89 foot locomotives. Photo by Tony Organek.

(Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)