|Locale||Chicago Metropolitan Area, United States|
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||11|
|Number of stations||239|
|Daily ridership||322,100 (weekday)
|Operator(s)||Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)|
|Reporting marks||METX, METZ, NIRC|
|System length||487.7 miles (784.9 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 81⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
Metra (officially the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation) is a suburban rail system that serves the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States and surrounding suburbs. Its railroad serves 239 stations on 11 different rail lines across the Regional Transportation Authority's six-county service area (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties) providing over 80 million rides annually. Metra has been honored with several E. H. Harriman Awards for employee safety, most recently with a Bronze award in class B (line-haul railroads with between 4 and 15 million employee hours per year) for 2005. Previous Harriman Awards conferred to Metra include Gold awards for 2003 and 2004 and a Silver award for 2002.
The commuter rail service in Chicago had slowly started to decline from the mid to late 1960s, and by the mid 1970s, they faced an uncertain future. The railroads operating the lines (the Burlington Northern, Milwaukee Road, Chicago and North Western, Illinois Central and many others) were barely making enough revenue from the services to continue them. This, coupled with a need for newer passenger equipment (the railroads were still using passenger cars from as far back as the 1920s ) left the future looking bleak and uncertain. As a result, Chicago formed the Regional Transportation Authority in 1974 to handle public transportation. In the beginning the fleet consisted of second-hand equipment, until 1976 when the first order of new EMD F40PH locomotives arrived. The F40PH fleet has been in service since its delivery.
In 1984 the RTA's rail operations were reorganized into Metra, and all commuter rail operations were handed over.
|Line||Chicago Terminal||End station||Length||Stations||Date of construction||Former owner|
|█ Heritage Corridor||Union Station||Joliet||37.3 mi||6||1947||Alton Railroad|
|█ BNSF Railway Line||Union Station||Aurora||37.5 mi||26||1864||Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad|
|█ SouthWest Service||Union Station||Manhattan||40.6 mi||13||1880||Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway|
|█ Milwaukee District/West Line||Union Station||Elgin/Big Timber Road||39.8 mi||22||1847||Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad|
|█ North Central Service||Union Station||Antioch||52.6 mi||18||1851||Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad ("Soo Line")|
|█ Milwaukee District/North Line||Union Station||Fox Lake||49.5 mi||22||1924||Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad|
|█ Union Pacific/West Line||Ogilvie Transportation Center||Elburn||36.7 mi||19||1865||Chicago and North Western Railway|
|█ Union Pacific/Northwest Line||Ogilvie Transportation Center||Harvard or McHenry||62 mi||23||1865||Chicago and North Western Railway|
|█ Union Pacific/North Line||Ogilvie Transportation Center||Kenosha||51.9 mi||27||1854||Chicago and North Western Railway|
|█ Metra Electric Line||Millennium Station||South Chicago, Blue Island or University Park||50.3 mi||49||1856||Illinois Central Railroad|
|█ Rock Island District||LaSalle Street Station||Joliet||40.2 mi||25||1852||Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad|
Until the 1960s, Chicago had six major intercity terminals. Three of them – Central Station, Dearborn Station and Grand Central Station – have closed, and Metra still uses the other three – LaSalle Street Station, Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center, and the Millennium Station (formerly Randolph Street Station), a terminal for commuter lines that operated through Central Station.
Since the 1960s, other routes have been rerouted into Union Station:
The Ogilvie Transportation Center, originally the Chicago and North Western Terminal, serves the three lines formerly operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway – the Union Pacific/North Line, Union Pacific/Northwest Line and Union Pacific/West Line.
Millennium Station (previously Randolph Street Station) serves the ex-Illinois Central Railroad Metra Electric Line, and the South Shore Line service to South Bend, Indiana, a former interurban railroad operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Despite the State of Illinois's current budget crisis, Metra is implementing vigorous expansion. Some of this expansion has already been realized: the Union Pacific/West line has been extended from Geneva, Illinois through La Fox to Elburn, and the Southwest Service line has been extended from Orland Park to Manhattan. Metra is also in the process of extending the McHenry branch of the Union Pacific/Northwest into Johnsburg.
Plans for a new station on the Heritage Corridor in Romeoville have been announced. The station and accompanying parking would be on property belonging to the Citgo oil refinery between Lemont and Lockport.
Metra is also planning new rail services, the SouthEast Service line from downtown Chicago to Crete and the first entirely intra-suburban commuter line, the Suburban Transit Access Route, or "STAR" Line, between Joliet and O'Hare Airport, linking Metra lines in the western suburbs.
The state of Wisconsin has discussed extending Metra's service to the cities of Racine and Milwaukee. Should all go well in cooperation between Wisconsin and Illinois, and should officials in Wisconsin find funding, Metra hopes to begin service by 2012.
Metra has a zone-based fare structure: fares are determined by the number of zones passed through on a trip. The zones are designated by letters from A (downtown stations and termini) to M. Each zone represents an added 5 miles from the terminus. For example, zone A is 0-5 miles from the terminus, and zone B is 5-10 miles from the terminus. As such, closer to the city there are multiple stations in a zone, up to 8 stations per zone. There are some exceptions to the rule, because of line geometries. For example, Prairie Crossing/Libertyville is a station on both the North Central Service and Milwaukee District North lines. Although it is 40.7 miles from the terminus on the NCS, in zone I, it is ticketed as zone H because the MD-N station is only 39.2 miles from its terminus (zone H). Harvard on the Union Pacific/Northwest Line is the only station in the M zone, and there are no stations in the L zone.
|100–127||F40PH||1976–1977||All diesel routes||Operating, to be rebuilt|
|128–184||F40PH-2||1979–1989||All diesel routes, many of which are assigned to the UP lines||Operating|
|185–214||F40PHM-2||1991–1992||BNSF, RI, Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West, and North Central Service. 214 pulled the first North Central Service train from Antioch to Chicago. The F40 PHM-2s are the last F40PH series locomotives built.||Operating|
|401–427||MP36PH-3||2003–2004||BNSF, RI, Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West and North Central Service||Operating|
|305, 308||F7||1949||All Diesel Routes||Retired, donated to Illinois Railway Museum|
|514–516, 518, 521||E8||1951–1953||All Diesel Routes||Retired|
|600–614||F40C||1974||Milwaukee Districts||611 and 614 remain on the property; 611 is named Village of Ontarioville, 614 Edward F. Brabec. An unknown number were brought back in service while MP36s were sent to Boise for overhaul.|
|3||SW1200||Milwaukee West, Milwaukee North||Operating|
|4–8||SW1500||RI, Milwaukee West, Milwaukee North, ME||Operating|
|7880||Coach (Former Parlor)||C&NW||1958||Pullman||Retired|
|7900-7901||Club Car (s)||C&NW||1955||St. Louis||Retired|
|1201–1226||MU Coach||Metra||2005||Nippon Sharyo|
|1501–1630||MU Coach||IC||1971–1972||St. Louis|
There have been several accidents that have caught regional, and sometimes national, attention:
One Metra Police Department officer has been killed in the line of duty, Officer Thomas A. Cook, who died of as a result of gunfire on September 27, 2006.