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 7express
 
Going to be in Chicago for the 4th of July weekend and wanted to railfan a couple of Metra lines, which ones would be the best??
  by JohnD1
 
Ride the Metra Electric; they have frequent service all the time.

If you are there on Saturday, ride the BNSF 5:25 out of Chicago--Non-Stop to Downers Grove Main Street. It is not quite as far as the weekday one's non-stop to Route 59, but it flies. You arrive at 5:49. An inbound will pick you up at 6:45 pm giving you time to get dinner in Downers at the ....[nah, I just cannot go there].

Metra Sunday service is limited anywhere. Their web site can tell you that.

You can also ride the CTA. I especially like riding the Brown Line to Ravenswood. It is above ground the whole way, and you see a lot of yuppieville much of the way. Another enjoyable ride is from downtown to O'Hare. The units fly along the expressway at the end, now that the track has been rehabbed.
  by doepack
 
7express wrote:Going to be in Chicago for the 4th of July weekend and wanted to railfan a couple of Metra lines, which ones would be the best??
Wow, you're planning early, aren't you? :-D But, along with John's BNSF & MED recommendations, I'd also try the Western Ave. station on the Milwaukee district, my personal favorite. It's the first stop after leaving Union Station, and just about all trains from both the West and North lines will stop here. (Some North Central trains will stop here too, but it's a little more sporadic, you'll have to check the schedule). Best time to go is during rush hours, when you'll see plenty of revenue runs from both the Milwaukee and UP/W lines as they bang across the diamonds at A2, as well as equipment moves not only to and from Western Ave. yard, but UP's California Ave. yard. Speaking of which, the east end of this yard can be easily seen from the south platform of the Western Ave. depot, it's literally right in front of you. All told, both yards provide equipment for seven of Metra's eleven routes, so you can imagine how busy it can be. And lest I forget: Amtrak runs 16 trains a day through here on the Milwaukee side, 14 Hiawathas, plus the two Empire Builders...
JohnD1 wrote:You can also ride the CTA. I especially like riding the Brown Line to Ravenswood. It is above ground the whole way, and you see a lot of yuppieville much of the way.
A minor correction: The stations on the west end of the route at Rockwell, Fransisco, Kedzie, plus the terminal at Kimball are at grade level...
  by orangeline
 
JohnD1 wrote:You can also ride the CTA
If you fly into the city take CTA rail from either O'Hare or Midway airports to downtown.

I agree on the BNSF express. That's my "home" Metra line and those expresses can fly! Should you arrive on July 1 or 2, you'll have plenty of choices on most Metra lines. Enjoy your stay!
  by 7express
 
Just out of curiosity, will the Metra run any getaway holiday trains on the 1 or 2nd??

I live on the New Haven line of Metro North, 4th stop from the end of the line, and I love the holiday runs they send out before the major holidays (Independence day, Memorial day, labor day etc). Cuts a 90 minute trip to about 70.
  by doepack
 
7express wrote:Just out of curiosity, will the Metra run any getaway holiday trains on the 1 or 2nd??
Probably. Check the website for details sometime during the last week of June, it should be posted by then...
  by 7express
 
Ended up doing UP-W from Chicago to Elmhurst on July 4 and UP-N from Chicago-Waukegan on the 5, along with the CTA red line from Grand-Addison (went to the Cubs/Reds game on the 3rd). Great system, looking forward to heading back there.