Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by Scotty Burkhardt
In my opinion, Metra's most unique and least talked about route. I hope to spark some discussion on it by starting a thread on it.

Yesterday I was in Hyde Park and saw METX 5 and 2 TTX flat cars. I assume they were laying new ties in the area as the ballast looked to be recently layed.

I would aslso like to add that the new Stony Island station is coming along well and that the staircase from the 59th street platform to 60th ave has been torn down/sealed up.

  by PRRGuy
It seems like they're really doing a good rehab on this line as, I've been seeing m-o-w equipment on it all summer. I noticed the southbound mains near McCormick Place have been getting alot of attention and It seems like they've been moving south as now I see alot of work being done near Kensington As we enter the Metra Line. (slightly off topic) NICTD has been doing alot of work on the line from Kensington to Hegewish...new ties..high speed crossovers and new signals and soon to be CTC, so bye-bye train orders.

  by doepack
Metra Electric does indeed have a unique and interesting history. It's hard to imagine that this route was actually a steam road in the beginning, before electrification was completed in 1926. Very few, if any, tangible remnants from that era exist today, with the possible exception of the commuter platforms currently in use at Roosevelt Road. Although used only by Metra and NICTD trains today, these platforms were at one time within the domain of Central Station, originally built in 1856, which was once the home of Illinois Central's long distance passenger trains between Chicago and the south. More info can be found here:


During the decades following the Great Depression of 1929, many blacks migrated here from the south looking for a better life and more oppurtunities, and those who bought a one-way ticket to Chicago coming from Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia normally wound up on trains such as The City of Miami, The Seminole Limited, (between Chicago and Jacksonville), and the City of New Orleans. My grandmother was among those migrants, arriving here from Alabama in 1945, and she remembers Central Station as being "the biggest building I'd ever seen in my life". Coming from a small town in the south, I'm sure many other people felt the same way.

With the 5/1/71 formation of Amtrak, I believe some intercity passenger trains still used the station, but all had moved to Union Station by 1972, and the station building was demolished two years later. Meanwhile, the Seminole Limited was trimmed back to Carbondale in 1969, and was renamed the Shawnee, which was transferred to Amtrak by that name two years later. It is now known as the Illini. As for The City of Miami, it was actually a joint operation between IC and Central of Georgia, with the latter road running the train east of Birmingham. Today, Norfolk Southern owns and operates most of the trackage between Birmingham and Jacksonville, although I don't know for sure if passenger service on this segment survived into the Amtrak era, if it did at all.

But getting back to Metra Electric, I believe the South Chicago Branch is the only line on Metra's system where commuter equipment is not stored overnight. After shuttle 353 finishes its final run at 93rd St., it deadheads back to Randolph St. But at one time, rush hour equipment did lay over on nights and weekends on a short spur around 81st St., or so, don't remember the exact location, or when this practice was discontinued.

  by Tadman
My favorite Metra Line as well. It's nice to see the rehab. There was talk at one time of the Blue Island branch going away, but it looks like ME is here to stay and prosper. Especially considering the manufacturing base along the main line has almost completely disappeared, it's surprising people still remain to ride the train, but things like this never cease to amaze me. If anybody drives through Harvey as much as I do, it will shock you how much the factories along Halsted are gone. Whiting has sold to a counterweight manufacturer, Trackmobile is gone, Buddha is gone, Republic is gone... Although it should be noted Whiting has moved to Monee, further down IC, but is not rail-served anymore. In the crane industry, we don't ship by rail much at all these days.

  by doepack
Actually, it really isn't all that surprising with the continued population growth in the south suburbs that more people are using Metra Electric as part of the daily commute to work. What is interesting however, is the effect that these closed or relocated factories have had on ridership demographics over the last 2 decades. Since the majority of displaced workers were men with families, more women had to assume the breadwinning duties by taking jobs in the city. As a result, women now make up the majority of Metra Electric commuters, especially among those that live in the south suburbs along the main line.