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 Otto Vondrak
My friend just brought me a set of Metra timetables, and I just got a chance to look at them... am I seeing things? Some of these timetables have effective dates of 1996, 1999, 2004, 2003... maybe I'm just used to LIRR, MN, and NJT issuing timetables at least twice a year with the change in the clocks, but not changing a timetable since 1996?

Help this poor New Yorker understand.


  by MikeF
Help this poor Midwesterner understand -- why is it necessary to issue new timetables for Daylight Saving Time? To my knowledge, that has never been done around here. The South Shore timetable (currently effective July 31, 2005) includes two times for each train at South Bend, noting that the later time is in effect between October and April due to the fact that most of Indiana did not recognize Daylight Saving Time (that changed recently, though, so the next timetable will probably differ).

The dates on the timetables you were given are correct. Currently the Rock Island District has the oldest timetable, No. 11 effective Nov. 4, 1996.

  by doepack
Adding capacity to existing equipment where feasible has usually been Metra's initial way of repsonding to increased ridership demand.

Remember too, that Metra operates commuter service on four lines via a contract with Union Pacific and BNSF. Two of these lines have extremely heavy freight traffic, and Metra will have to provide additional compensation to both railroads should they desire to add more trains. Not in the budget yet, but it'll happen eventually. We midwesterners tend take things a little more slowly around here... :-)

BTW Otto, if you happen to have schedules for the Union Pacific West (Chicago to Geneva), Southwest (Chicago to Orland Park), and North Central (Chicago to Antioch) lines, you might want to hold on to those as collector's items. By the end of next month, all three routes will have new schedules reflecting expanded service...

Guys: As a rail timetable collector myself, I understand METRA's system perfectly-if it is not broken do not fix it! The LIRR for example can drive collectors batty with its frequent schedule changes. Examples recently are: SEP 12-NOV 13;NOV 14-DEC 11 2005 and the current DEC 12-MARCH 5,2006. - where all 11 TT forms were issued. For longevity for example I give the PC/CR Metropolitan Region-now Metro North. In 1982 and before into the mid 70s they would keep a single TT unchanged for sometimes 3 years or more. This changed under MNCR. I recall when METRA standardized by format and color code all their TTs in 1986 I believe. For example, I wondered why the IC Highliners were drawn on it elephant style-I realize that they are single units and can operate that way. Before METRA each RR had basically its own TT format. It is obvious that METRA updates the printing even though the date may be some time ago. January 2006 will be a major month of changes for METRA. Observations and comments from MACTRAXX
Last edited by MACTRAXX on Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by orangeline
First off, to all railroad.netters HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For me Metra means the BNSF. They do not change timetables very often; I have one from June 6, 1999 with the next one dated NOV 22, 2004 -- some 5 1/2 years between timetables! And the differences in scheduled times are generally not that great. For example, train 1256 leaves Fairview Ave at same time but arrives at Union Station 1 minute later in the '04 schedule compared to '99.

One reason for the schedule change was new trackwork between Congress Park and Brookfield replacing a similar arrangement between LaGrange Road and Congress Park. An issue with the older setup was that trains ending their outbound runs at Congess Park had to travel west about 1/2 way to the La Grange Road station before changing directions. This would cause the gates at La Grange Road to go down, tying up traffic on a very busy north/south La Grange Road (US 12-20-45) and nearby east/west Ogden Ave. (US 34). With the change, trains that used to end/begin runs at Congress Park now do so at Brookfield and a number of trains that once ran non-stop between La Grange Road and Union Station now make a stop a Congress Park.

Passengers are very conditioned to the trains running on a well-defined schedule. It always amazes and amuses me to see the same cars pulling up to let out passengers just as their train pulls in. And if the train's late (even by a minute) commuters tend to get very fidgety. Changing schedules just for the sake of change would smack of anarchy on Metra's part!

  by Yonge
The effective dates for Metra schedules are available on the Metra website: http://metrarail.com/schedule.html

  by Otto Vondrak
Thank you for the responses! Well, I guess that makes sense!

Metro-North generally issues two timetables a year for each line- Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven. The Port Jervis Line timetable is issued according to NJT's schedule, since they actually operate that service for MN. MN also issues special Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year's timetables. MN schedules actually change quite often, but in subtle ways. Compare an NYC timetable from 1965 with an MN timetable from 1995, and you'll find very few changes (except for the route being shorter and some stations gone!)... but MN adjusts the schedules to meet demand and to better utilize equipment. And since MN's trains run on MN's tracks controlled by MN RTC's without much freight to contend with, they have a bit more control over the situaton than say, Metra might with their contracted roads.


  by metraRI
Something new added to RI's schedule.

The date effective on the schedule now look like this:

Effective November 4, 1996
(Reprinted with no changes May 2006)

Maybe Metra finally noticed it's using a 10 year old timetable.... or passengers started to think that using a 10 year old timetable was a little odd.
Last edited by metraRI on Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by Milwaukee_F40C
For the lines that haven't had schedule changes in a long time, the system-wide map is now obsolete, because of the expansions.

  by BMT Standard
They also reprint the timetables when fares change.

  by Tadman
Mactrax brings up the issue of Highliners being coupled elephant style on the TT - this wasn't the case originally, it happened around 1993. I haven't looked at one laying around, but I think they reverted to classic format rather than elephant a few years back - I ride ME fairly often, and about one train per day runs with 7 coaches - and instead of putting the seventh on the end so the last two are elephant style, it's stuck in the middle leaving the train with three elephant-style coaches. Don't ask me - it's a mystery. Also, some of the retired H1's are coupled elephant style at KYD, and although one's pan is missing, they all had pans up yesterday for the first time in '06. They also appeared to be moved one trainlength north.

  by metraRI
I have not noticed this until now.. Metra quietly made changes to Heritage Corridor's schedule effective January 30th. HC trains were renumbered into a 900 series. When an HC train hit a truck back in June? I noticed they were reporting train #921, instead of #21 but I couldn't figure out why as the numbers were still not changed online at that time.