Ogilvie Transportation Center

The Richard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center is a passenger terminal in downtown Chicago, Illinois, currently serving the three commuter rail lines of Metra's Union Pacific District, which approach the terminal elevated above street level. The building occupies two square blocks, bounded by Randolph Street and Madison Street to the north and south and by Canal Street and Clinton Street to the east and west.


The 1911 Station

The Chicago and North Western Railway built the Chicago and North Western Terminal in 1911 to replace their Wells Street Station across the North Branch of the Chicago River. The new station, in the Renaissance Revival style, was designed by Frost and Granger (also the architects for the 1903 LaSalle Street Station).

The station's 16 tracks were elevated above street level and "reached by six approach tracks and sheltered under an 894-foot-long [272 meter] Bush train shed. The upper-level of the head house housed a concourse and other facilities for intercity passengers, including "dressing rooms, baths, nurses and matrons rooms, and a doctor's office. The centerpiece of the upper level was a stately waiting room, measuring 34 by 62 meters (102 by 202 feet), and rising 26 meters (84 ft) to its barrel-vaulted ceiling. In addition to the main concourse on the upper level, there was a street-level concourse for commuters.

During the heyday of rail travel, the Chicago and North Western Terminal was home to the C&NW's trains to Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St Paul, Madison and other cities of the upper Midwest, including the railroad's premier "400" series of trains. Until 1955, it was also the Chicago terminus of the trains the Union Pacific ran in conjunction with the C&NW, including the Overland Limited and the famed "City" trains. See below for some of the best known of the trains served by this station.

The 1984 Station

In 1984 the 1911 head house was razed and replaced with the glass-and-steel 42-story Citicorp Center, which was completed three years later in 1987. The station was re-named the Ogilvie Transportation Center in 1997, two years after the C&NW merged into the Union Pacific Railroad. The station was named for Richard B. Ogilvie, a board member of the Milwaukee Road and a lifelong railroad proponent, who, as governor of Illinois, created the RTA, which is the parent agency of Metra. The station remains known colloquially as North Western Station or North Western Terminal. One of the saddest days in the center's history occurred on Dec 8th 2006 when a total of four people, including the assailant, were killed over a dispute with a patent attorney firm located above the center. All rail services were suspended for many hours that day during the Friday afternoon commute.

1991 Rehabilitation

In 1991, Metra purchased the train shed from the Chicago and Northwestern Co. and conducted a survey to determine the conditions of the existing station. The examination included necessary repairs needed to improve its structural integrity and redesign measures to bring station up to date with modern mass commuting standards. After completing a thorough evaluation, Metra, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, and the Illinois Department of Transportation decided to completely rehabilitate the structure and in 1992, with the assistance of Federal funding, a contractor and management team were selected to begin the work.

Many engineering challenges had to be addressed and resolved, not only because of the train shed’s prominent location but also due to its high traffic volume as it was to remain operational to 45,000 daily commutes during the entire project. Such challenges included: the removal of original lead paint, the complete replacement of all 16 tracks (serving 200 trains a day), extensive structural steel repairs (under load), erection of a new steel canopy, complete exterior masonry restoration, new electrical and plumbing, and construction of a new pedestrian concourse. During the rehabilitation project which lasted 4 years and cost 100 million dollars, over 60 contractors spent more 800,000 man hours on repairs and new construction.

Also, due to the large number of documents and records generated (15 thousand repair requests, 2500 letters, 5000 inspection requests), the project adapted new computerized electronic methodology for its QAQC activity. While on site, project engineers and inspectors utilized portable devices that ran software called the Construction Manager to generate daily progress reports. They also captured all field construction and test activity digitally (voice, stills, and video).


Since its opening, the Chicago and North Western Terminal has served as a terminal for all the commuter and intercity trains of the Chicago and North Western Railway. In addition, on November 9, 1969, the day after Grand Central Station closed, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Pere Marquette Railway, Grand Central's two remaining users, moved their remaining intercity services into the C&NW's terminal. Those trains, which used the C&NW's branch to the St. Charles Air Line west of Western Avenue, last ran April 30, 1971, the day before Amtrak took over most intercity passenger trains in the U.S. Subsequent Amtrak services over the lines of those two railroads have run into Union Station.

Metra's three Union Pacific District lines - the Union Pacific/North Line, Union Pacific/Northwest Line and Union Pacific/West Line - now provide regular commuter rail service to the station along three former C&NW lines. In Metra's zone-based fare schedule, Ogilvie is in Zone A. Approximately 37,500 people board Metra trains at Ogilvie Transportation Center each day.

Bus Connections

CTA Buses

  • #14 Jeffery Express
  • #19 United Center Express
  • #20 Madison (Owl Service)
  • #X20 Madison Express
  • #38 Ogden/Taylor
  • #56 Milwaukee
  • #60 Blue Island/26th (Owl Service)
  • #120 Ogilvie/Wacker Express
  • #122 /Illinois Center/Ogilvie Express
  • #124 Navy Pier
  • #125 Water Tower Express
  • #126 Jackson
  • #128 Soldier Field Express (Game Days / Major Concerts Only)
  • #129 West Loop/South Loop
  • #130 Grant Park Treasures (Summer Service Only)
  • #157 Streeterville
  • #192 University of Chicago Hospitals Express

Major Trains of the pre-Amtrak Era

Chicago & North Western Trains

Union Pacific/Chicago & North Western Trains


External links


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