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: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Tadman
Ever notice that Metra has the most complex headlight package this side of Southern Pacific? You get headlights, mars light, red stop light, markers, and rotating beacons in addition to the brightest red stripes. Where the heck did this all come from?

I'm guessing the red nose striping was instituted after the IC 1972 accident. I believe the mars light was a MILW thing, as all MILW equipment had mars lights, but many carriers did fifty years ago - nobody has them anymore. Even Amtrak quit with the big red stoplights, and I think most railroads ditched strobe lights in favor of flashing ditch lights (which are now no longer required either - I think they're solid on for most railroads).

That's a lot of maintenance to keep so many lights properly bulbed and free of cracks and chips.

Edit - it appears that Metra quit with the giant red stop lights for the MP36 order, but brought them back with the purchase of 215 and the F40 rebuilds.
  by byte
Technically what Metra uses are Gyra lights, not Mars lights (although I'm guilty of referring to them as the latter as well). Mars lights are no longer manufactured, and have a more complex beam pattern - that of a figure 8. Gyra lights, on the other hand, only spin the beam around in a wide circle. Mechanically it's less complex.
  by F40CFan
The North Western had yellow "mars" lights on the roofs of their cab cars and locomotives. They actually had 4 bulbs that flashed alternately to give the impression of a rotating light. They were in use into the Metra era.