Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation

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Metra, or the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, is the rail-based commuter transit system serving the Chicago area. It is a division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), formed by the 1984 restructuring of the RTA.

History

In 1974, with the railroads loosing money on commuter trains, and other transit systems loosing money, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) was formed. The RTA subsequently signed "purchase of service" agreements with the various railroads servicing Chicago, which were all in place by 1976. The railroads would then continue to operate the commuter trains subsidized by the RTA and operating according to RTA standards. The Rock Island was finally modernized in 1979 with new bilevel cars and F40PH locomotives, and rebuilding of track which had badly deteriorated. The two rush hour commuter operations in Illinois, the Norfolk & Western (ex-Wabash Railroad) and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio received new bilevel cars and F40PH locomotives in 1979 which replaced former long distance equipment previously provided by the railways themselves.

The C&NW had developed a modern and comfortable commuter rail services on its own but no money was invested in new commuter locomotives. Rather, older F7 and E8 locomotives were kept operating through rebuilding. Chicago & North Western locomotives and rolling stock were acquired by the RTA on December 31st, 1977 and leased back to C&NW. The RTA and Metra enabled the C&NW locomotives to be finally replaced by 1989. The Burlington Northern E8 & E9 locomotives and rolling stock passed to the West Suburban Mass Transit District (WSMTD) in 1982 and in 1983 were rebuilt to HEP and E9Ar and the rolling stock converted to all-electric. They were also planned to be acquired by the RTA, however the locomotives remained WSMTD property until replaced by new leased Metra F40PH-2M on August 30th, 1992.

All locomotives acquired by the RTA were allocated RTA fleet numbers, but only two ex C&NW F7A actually carried their RTA numbers (305 & 308) and then only after withdrawal from passenger service.

The Rock Island entered bankruptcy on March 17, 1975. In 1980 the federal courts ordered it’s liquidation and it shut down 11:59pm March 2nd, 1980, with the ICC directing that the RTA takeover the Joliet commuter service. RTA signed up the C&NW to do so, but in the spring of 1981 C&NW bailed out during an RTA financial crisis. With no other railway willing to takeover the operation the RTA set up the Northeast Illinois Railroad Corporation (NIRC) in June 1981. RTA finally purchased the track to Joliet for $35M in December 1982 (Rock Island).

Milwaukee Road went bankrupt in October 1977. The RTA "purchase of service" agreement expired on June 30th, 1981 but was not renewed as potential purchasers of the railway did not want the commuter operation. From January 1982 the F40C locomotives and equipment passed to the NIRC as well as the seven withdrawn E9s. To preserve the service NIRC leased the property on October 1st, 1982 and Metra completed the purchase of the lines from Chicago to Pingree Grove and Fox Lake in August 1987 (Milwaukee West and Milwaukee North).

Today’s Metra organization stems from the RTA Amendatory Act of 1983, which decentralized Chicagoland’s transit network by creating three separate management boards – CTA, Pace and Metra. The Metra service mark for NIRC was introduced in 1984. Metra now directly operates most of the services except for those on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the former Chicago & North Western North, Northwest and West lines (now operated by Union Pacific) which are still "purchase of service" contracts.

As Illinois Central downsized in the 1980’s it approached Metra regarding its Chicago commuter lines. The electric lines from Randolph Street were physically separate from the main line and this facilitated their sale to Metra for $28M on May 1st, 1987 (Metra Electric District). The sale also included the former GM&O diesel service to Joliet but in this case not the tracks (Heritage). In 1993 Norfolk Southern leased the Orland Park line to Metra as its Southwest service and the NS employees were transferred to Metra.

On August 19th, 1996 Metra inaugurated the first all new commuter train service in 70 years when it started operating from Chicago Union Station to Antioch on the Wisconsin Central (now Canadian National Railway) line (North Central).

In 2006 extensions to the Union Pacific West Line to Elburn (January 23rd) and Southwest line to Manhattan (January 30th) were opened. In addition North Central and Southwest line services were expanded by the completion of work to double track the lines allowing expansion of services from rush hour.

Fleet Roster

Locomotives

Active

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Engine
horsepower
Gearing
top speed
HEP generator Notes
1-2 1939-46 EMD SW1
  • Ex-RI 4801, 4804.
3 1954 EMD SW1200
4-9 1967~72 EMD SW1500
  • Ex-SP 2643, 2676, IS 120-121, SP 2494, ?.
10-11 1966-69 EMD GP23ECO
73-93 1998 EMD F59PHI EMD 12V-710G3C-EC
3000 hp
56:21
110 mph
94-96 1988 GMDD F59PH EMD 12V-710G3A
3000 hp
66:20
83 mph
97-99 1988 GMDD F59PH EMD 12V-710G3A
3000 hp
66:20
83 mph
100-127 1977 EMD F40PH-3
128-149 1979-80 EMD F40PH-3
150-173 1983 EMD F40PH-2
174-184 1988-89 EMD F40PH-3
185-214 1991-92 EMD F40PHM-3
  • Delivered as F40PHM; rebuilt to -3 by Progress Rail in 2016-20.
  • 205 retired.
215-216 1977-81 EMD F40PH-3
217 1981 EMD F40PH-3
401-427 2003-04 MPI MP36PH-3C EMD 16V-645F3B
3600 hp
HEP generator
  • Delivered as MP36PH-3S; converted to -3C from 2017-21.
611, 614 1974 EMD F40C EMD 16V-645E3B
3200 hp
HEP generator
  • Ex-MILW 51, 54.
  • Stored since 2012.

Retired

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Engine
horsepower
Gearing
top speed
HEP generator Notes
200-202 1948 EMD E7A None
  • Ex-RI 639, 641, 642.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
230 1941 EMD E6A Yes
  • Ex-RI 630.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
290 1948 EMD E7B None
  • Ex-RI 610.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
300-310 1949 EMD F7A
  • Ex-C&NW 406-414, 416.
  • Only 305, 308 repainted and renumbered.
320-322 1949 EMD F7A
  • Ex-RI 675-677.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
400 1949 EMD E7A
  • Ex-C&NW 5019B.
  • Repainted into RTA livery, but not renumbered.
401-429 1950-55 EMD E8A
  • Ex-C&NW.
  • Most units repainted into RTA livery, but not renumbered.
430-431 1953 EMD E8A
  • Ex-RI 660-661.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
440-447 1950-52 EMD E8A None
  • Ex-RI 646, 649, 652-655, 657-658.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
530-535 1961 EMD E9A
  • Ex-MILW 36A, 36C, 37A, 37C, 38A, 38C; acquired in 1982.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
540-543 1956 EMD E9A
  • Ex-RI 662-665.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
550-555 1953-62 EMD E9Ac
  • Ex-C&NW 501-506; acquired in 1977.
  • Née-UP E8B/E9B locomotives 910B, 913B, 925B, 935B, 960B, 962B; rebuilt with cabs in 1973.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
560 1956 EMD E9A
  • Ex-MILW 33C; acquired in January 1982.
  • Not repainted or renumbered.
600-610, 612-613 1974 EMD F40C EMD 16V-645E3B
3200 hp
HEP generator
  • Ex-MILW 40-50, 52-53.
9900-9925 1949~56 EMD E9Ar
  • Ex-BN 9935, 9938-9940, 9977, 9967, 9972-9973, 9976, 9980-9995.
  • Rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen to E9Ar in 1973-78.
  • Assigned MTA fleet numbers 500-524, but were never renumbered.

Electric Multiple Units

Active

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Seating Capacity Notes
1201-1226 2005 Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo Highliner II
1227-1386 2012-14 Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo Highliner II

Retired

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Seating Capacity Notes
1501-1630 1971-72 St. Louis Highliner Ex-IC/CSSMTD.
1631-1666 1978-79 Bombardier Highliner

Passenger Cars

Active

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Seating Capacity Notes
700-787 1950-65 Budd Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-CB&Q.
  • Currently being retired.
790-795 1965 Budd Gallery
Cab car
  • Ex-CB&Q.
  • Currently being retired.
796-815 1973 Budd Gallery
Cab car
816-820 1973 Budd Gallery
Coach
6001-6192 2002-05 Nippon Sharyo Gallery
Coach
7100-7121 1977-78 Budd Gallery
Coach
7200-7241 1961-64 Budd Gallery
Coach
7242-7256 1965 Budd Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-RI 140-154.
7257-7283 1974 Budd Gallery
Coach
7284-7381 1978-80 Budd Gallery
Coach
7382 1965 Budd Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-cab car 8222.
7400-7497 1996-98 Amerail Gallery
Coach
7700-7866 1960-70 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-C&NW 49-150, 201-224, 226-237, 301-329.
  • Currently being retired.
8200-8219 1961-64 Budd Gallery
Cab car
8220-8224 1965 Budd Gallery
Cab car
  • Ex-RI 110-114.
8225-8238 1974 Budd Gallery
Cab car
8239-8275 1978-80 Budd Gallery
Cab car
8400-8413 1994-95 Morrison-Knudsen Gallery
Cab car
8414-8478 1995-98 Amerail Gallery
Cab car
8501-8608 2002-05 Nippon Sharyo Gallery
Cab car

Retired

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Seating Capacity Notes
7600-7613 1955 St. Louis Gallery
Coach
7650-7681 1956 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Coach
7867-7871 1970 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-RI 155-159.
7880 1958 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-C&NW parlor car 225.
7881-7885 1969 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Coach
  • Ex-RI 115-119.
7900-7901 1955 St. Louis Gallery
Club car
8700-8763 1959-68 Pullman-Standard Gallery
Cab car
  • Ex-C&NW 151-200, 251-264.

On Order

Fleet Numbers Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Seating Capacity Notes
TBD 2024-27 Alstom Coradia Multilevel 200 cars purchased with an option for 300 more.

External links

Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation official website