Metra (officially known as the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation) is a regional rail system that serves the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States and surrounding suburbs. The railroad serves over 200 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.
In 1926, the Illinois Central Railroad electrified its commuter service between downtown Chicago and the neighborhood of Hyde Park. This would later become the Metra Electric Line. Forty-eight years later, in 1974, the Regional Transportation Authority was formed after a March 1973 referendum to provide financial support from local and county governments to railroads providing commuter service between Chicago and its suburbs. Purchase of service contracts with all the railroads operating commuter service in the area were signed in 1976.
In the wake of the 1980 bankruptcy and liquidation of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, the RTA also acquired ownership and operational responsibilities of that railroad's commuter operations (now Metra's Rock Island District) in 1982. The same year it also leased the Milwaukee Road's Suburban Mass Transit District lines (now Metra's Milwaukee Districts). In 1979, the RTA purchased 27 F40PH locomotives, as well as inheriting 14 F40C locomotives, 18 E8/E9 locomotives, and two F7 units. (They would later come in possession of 45 F40PH-2 locomotives between 1979 and 1989, and 29 F40PHM-2s in 1991-1992.)
The RTA Amendatory Act of 1983 created the current organization, with three management boards for Chicago area public transit: the CTA for city rapid transit and buses, Pace for suburban buses, and Metra for suburban rail. The Metra service mark, short for Metropolitan Rail, was adopted in 1984. Before then, Metra was briefly known just as the Northeast Illinois Railroad Corporation. Many Metra locomotives remained in the RTA paint scheme until the early to mid-1990s.
Metra purchased the Metra Electric Line and took over operation of the Heritage Corridor in 1987, then took over operation of the Southwest Service in 1993. In 1996 it began operating the North Central Service over the Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation, now part of the Canadian National Railway. Commuter service that had previously been operated on that line by the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway (the Soo Line) ended by 1971. From 1991-1992, Metra purchased 29 F40PH-2M locomotives, and came in possession of the Milwaukee Road's F40C fleet. In the early 1990s, the E and F units were retired (the F units being sent to the Illinois Railway Museum), and in 2005, the F40Cs were replaced by new MPI MP36PH engines.
Metra's other lines are still operated by the freight railroads that own the trackage. The Union Pacific Railroad operates three ex-Chicago and North Western Railway lines – the Union Pacific/North Line, Union Pacific/Northwest Line and Union Pacific/West Line. The other line, the BNSF Railway Line, is operated by BNSF. With over 60,000 daily passengers on 94 revenue trains, the BNSF line is Metra's busiest. Commuter service is also provided by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's South Shore Line to South Bend, Indiana, one of only a few remaining interurban streetcar lines in the U.S. From 1971 to 1991, Amtrak's Calumet provided commuter rail service to Valparaiso, Indiana, and provides intercity service to Chicago, including frequent Hiawatha service to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, used by some commuters to Chicago.
Until the 1960s, Chicago had six major intercity terminals. Three of them – Central Station, Dearborn Station and Grand Central Station – have closed. Metra still uses the other three – LaSalle Street Station, Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center – as well as 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 interurban streetcar service to South Bend, Indiana, operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
In 2008, plans were announced for a possible new station on the Metra Heritage Corridor to be located in Romeoville. The station and accompanying parking would be located on the property belonging to the Citgo oil refinery between Lemont and Lockport. Metra would also increase the number of trains in service on the Heritage Corridor line. The plan also calls for Pace Park and Ride bus service from Weber Road, on Romeoville's western boundary, east along 135th Street (Romeo Road) to the new station.
Despite the State of Illinois's current budget crisis, Metra is implementing vigorous expansion in the coming years. 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.
Metra is also planning to create new rail services as well, namely the SouthEast Service line from downtown Chicago to Crete as well as Metra's first entirely intra-suburban commuter line, the Suburban Transit Access Route, or "STAR" Line, which would operate between Joliet and O'Hare Airport, linking together Metra lines in the western suburbs. In 2010, Metra hopes to extend the Union Pacific/North Line to Milwaukee. Stops would include Milwaukee, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Caledonia, Racine, and Somers.
|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. Locomotive #214 pulled the very first North Central Service train from Antioch to Chicago.||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|
|514–516, 518, 521||E8||1951–1953||All Diesel Routes||Retired|
|600–614||F40C||1974||Milwaukee Districts||Retired, although engines 611 and 614 remain on the property. 614 is named Edward F. Brabec while 611 is named Village of Ontarioville.|
|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|
Metra, as all passenger rail, has a reputation for being a safe and reliable mode of transportation. However, there have been several accidents in the past that have caught regional, and sometimes national, attention:
|Officer||Date of death||Age||Tenure||Cause of death|
|Officer Thomas A. Cook||September 27, 2006||43||12 years||Gunfire|