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 hgondilon
I have not had a chance to ride METRA yet (I live on the East Cost) so I am hoping you all can save me a trip to Chicago just to satisfy my curiosity. On the East Coast commuter railroads have started changing their train arrival from clock times to time to arrival (12:00 pm on the old style, vs arriving in 6 min, for example). Has METRA made this switch yet?
  by lstone19
Are you talking about real-time signs at stations saying when a train will arrive? There are none so nothing to change. The only place where there are signs with real-time information are at the Chicago terminals and they only list departures by clock time (which at a terminal, is important since most people are looking for their train by its scheduled departure time - particularly in rush hour).
  by eolesen
Some Metra stations do have LED signs out on the platforms. On the UP-NW, I'm pretty certain Arlington Park, Barrington and Palatine have them, and I know Fox River Grove and Cary do.

I do believe they list the minutes until the next arrival. There are also automated announcements ("Voice of Metra") which are geo-location triggered when the train departs the upline station. Those do state the number of minutes until the next arrival, so I'm assuming the signs do as well.

Metra's new smartphone app lists both the calendar time of actual arrival and a countdown time.
  by lstone19
The only times I've seen the LED signs on the platform display anything other than something like "This is [name of stations]. Watch for trains" is when a "Voice of Metra" announcement is made when they display a text version of the announcement. There is no continuous updating of the time to next arrival.

As far as I can tell, the announcement of the next train is triggered at a fixed point ahead of the upline station. I've noticed at Roselle that the next inbound train announcement says 7 minutes for most trains but for the one I take most mornings, it says 8 minutes. But most trains are allowed five minutes from Schaumburg to Roselle while my morning train is allowed six minutes, hence the extra minute (my guess is the announcement at Roselle occurs at the same time as Schaumburg gets the "now arriving" announcement. But I don't hear the announcement all that often - I have my trip to station well timed enough that I'm rarely there more than five minutes before.

If I ever have a chance, I should go out there early and hear the announcements for 2208 at 6:26am (express Elgin-National St. to Roselle) and 2212 at 6:54am (deadhead from Elgin to originate Roselle). Also I know from experience that 2220 (deadhead from Chicago, reverse west of Roselle to originate Roselle - 7:37am - this was my regular train until about two years ago) gets no "arriving in X minutes" announcement and because where they reverse is east of where the "now arriving" message is triggered, as soon as they set the GPS up for the trip, the "now arriving" message plays immediately, even if they are not ready to go. On more than one occasion, they set it up before 2218 (does not stop at Roselle) had passed resulting in the "now arriving" message playing as 2218 was approaching the station at 70mph (not good at all).
  by eolesen
We only have one sign at my station, and I'm usually boarding from the other end of the train from where it is, so I'll take your word for it. Like you, I try not to be out on the platforms for more than about 2-3 minutes.

Trains from Barrington alert 9 minutes prior to arrival in Fox River Grove, and trains from Cary alert 4 minutes prior, which are the timetable times from both locations.

They're pretty good about announcing expresses that pass thru at speed.