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 TheGortex
1.) When were the painted coaches (RTA and Metra schemes) phased out?

2.) Do any of the old painted coaches run anymore, once in a blue moon?

3.) Where can I find the last painted coaches?

4.) Where is 555? On the UP Northwest line?

I am aware that 553 still runs, I see it every day on the UP North Line, and this does not apply to the C&NW coaches at the IRM.

  by doepack
The Pullman-era/RTA painted coaches began to be slowly phased out in the mid-90's, when the new ADA cars in the 7400 series were delivered. That's when some of the Budd equipment in the 7200 series began migrating over from the Milwaukee lines to CNW/UP. Up until a few years ago, it wasn't uncommon to see a strange mix of flat side/painted coaches paired with stainless steel equipment on the three UP lines.

Metra began receiving the new 6000s from Nippon-Sharyo in late '02/early '03, and the full order of 192 cars was delivered complete in 2005. The arrival of these cars allowed the full retirement of the old painted coaches, and are no longer in operation, having been relegated to history. Some were sold to Nashville's new commuter service, the Music City star, and others may have been sold elsewhere, but most of the rest have met their fate with the scrapper's torch. Still, even today if you're ever riding on UP/W as you roll past the California coach yard, you can still see a couple of them hanging around toward the shop area (you have to strain a little just to get a fleeting glimpse), but trust me, they've seen their last days on Metra revenue trains.

That should take care of questions 1 thru 3. Not too sure about 4...

  by c604.
I think the 555 was retired and scrapped a few years ago.

  by SlowFreight
More on question 3. Here's what I'm aware of, which is by no means an exhaustive disposition list:

-As mentioned, some of the later Pullman cars went to Nashville and operate essentially unrepainted.
-Some of the original St. Louit cars went to VRE in Washington and were refurbished and repainted. A second batch of later Pullmans arrived and operate unrepainted but relettered.
-Additional late Pullman cars went to MARC in Washington to operate the OTHER way out of Union Station, having been relettered and receiving striping on the ends. Neither D.C. operator received cabs that I am aware of.
-Many of the early Pullmans (easily confused with St. Louis cars for the window arrangements) and some cab cars wound up being owned by Midwest Transportation and Devleopment Corp. (see http://www.cl.ais.net/~dbehr/) These were leased out briefly to Caltrain and--I think--Montreal, but haven't done much since. When I spoke with the guy, he wouldn't say how many he bought, but acknowledged to having scrapped about half of the fleet due to age, deterioration, lack of business, etc.
-Other cars besides MTDC's have probably been scrapped--in particular cab cars (see photos in http://www.chicagoswitching.com/v4/arti ... ticleid=89)
-A mystery fleet of about a dozen were spotted on the San Diego and Imperial Valley in California about a year ago
-Wisconsin and Southern acquired at least three which they have repainted and operate
-Algoma Central is slated to begin operating several in Sault Ste. Marie - Hearst service, apparently, but I don't know when.
-Union Pacific supposedly retained several for work train service
-At least two different tourist lines have picked some up, but I don't remember who.

Feel free to add to this if anyone knows more--I'm always curious where this fleet disbursed to.

As an aside, the yellow and green cars acquired by Nashville are NOT suburban cars. Those are the former Great Lakes Western, nee Amtrak, originally C&NW intercity cars built in the same shells as the suburban fleet. I haven't been able to figure out what happened to most of that fleet after Amtrak retired them. It appears that the single-level diner with the bilevel roof ended up in a restaurant in Lake Geneva WI, but I never found it personally.

For a variety of reasons, probably having to do with cab signals and other equipment, transit agencies have preferred Metra's trailers to cab cars. Curiously, though, at least some of the old Rock Island cabs had been converted to trailers when brought over to the North Western lines ca. 1980.