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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Metra launches Saturday excursions on Heritage Corridor

Metra launches Saturday excursions on Heritage Corridor

By | September 17, 2021

Five-week ‘Rails, Trails, and Ales’ program begins Sept. 18

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Commuter train rounds curve with buildings in background
Commuter train rounds curve with buildings in background
A Metra Heritage Corridor train arrives at Lemont, Ill., in May 2019. Metra is launching five weeks of Saturday excursions on the Heritage Corridor route this weekend. (Trains: David Lassen)

CHICAGO — Beginning this weekend, Metra will offer special weekend excursions on its Heritage Corridor line for five Saturdays, designed to give passengers the opportunity to explore bike and hiking paths, festivals, restaurants, breweries, and other features of communities along the route.

The “Rails, Trails and Ales” excursions will provide two round trips each Saturday on the Heritage Corridor, which normally does not see weekend service. Trains will depart from Chicago Union Station at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., with return trips leaving Joliet at 1:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Trains will make all intermediate stops in both directions. The trains will feature Metra bike cars to accommodate more cyclists.

“Fall is a great time in Chicago and we thought this special service would be a great way to help My Metra riders explore some areas that aren’t normally served by train on weekends,” Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a press release. “Bring your bike onboard and ride a bike path. Check out a weekend festival. Ride a zip line. There are scores of possibilities along the Heritage Corridor Line.”

Detailed schedules and a list of attractions accessible at each station are available here.

15 thoughts on “Metra launches Saturday excursions on Heritage Corridor

  1. It’s been a while, a long while. We once did visit Lockport, then a bit of an artists’ colony but more to the point a good healthy walk to (1) BNSF’s former ATSF main and (2) the lock on the Illinois River.

    This sounds great.

    1. So TRAINS, WHICH line is the Heritage Line? The Wisconsin Central (Soo Line to the uninitiated) the line that goes to Antioch? The North Western to Harvard, Geneva, or Kenosha? The C&A to Joliet? Last time I was in Chicago 2005 (for Bennett Levin’s trip) I did the entire commuter rail network–except the CSS&SB due to a wire break but the South Shore is an interurban and not really a railroad until they give up street-running in Michigan City. It confuses many to use modern and made-up names for these liens. Now are these extra trains or just a fare promotion of existing trains? I could see weekend resort traffic to Fox Lake if more people knew it was there.

  2. Great thinking and hope it works out. If it does then run some specials and promotions along the Northwest Line next Fall, it’s just ripe with trails, history, shops etc. Or better yet start promoting all the corridors more than just a line to get from Point A to B.

    1. Mark …. great post ….. but I think the point is that most METRA lines already have scheduled Sunday service. The point is that Heritage trains did not. Lines like METRA UP Northwest can and should be promoted for weekend excursions but it’s not necessary to add trains.

      Chicago central city has its issues — the suburbs by and large are wonderful. To expand on your post, taking METRA UP North Line to Braeburn means a good walk to the Botanic Garden which means free admission – the only charge is for cars.

      1. Thank you Charles you have some good ideas too on this post. I didn’t mean to add trains on the other lines but offer promotions such as history tours, tavern hops, festivals. Long as they’re doing something with the Heritage is a start and an open slate for expanding customers and opportunities.

  3. This is a great idea. The Heritage Corridor towns of Lockport, Lemont and Joliet have quite a few interesting places to visit. Glad to see Metra is improvising during this time of decreased commuting.

  4. Happy that CN is not trying to block this.
    Joliet, Lockport and Lemont downtowns all have cool places to check out and all are near or very near the BNSF main.

  5. Charles, the station nearest the Chicago Botanical Garden is Braeside. And if flowers and fauna are not one’s thing but getting exercise outdoors is, the other activity one can easily access from many stations along the route is walking or biking on the closely paralleling Green Bay Trail. For sure this Fall season program Metra is offering is tremendous in so many ways. The

    scenic in

  6. Don’t know what happened there. Finger went a little crazy trying to re-compose a thought. The Metra PR/Marketing folks and CEO Derwinski and the Operating Dept. deserve effusive praise for putting this together and getting CN to buy in. And for the railfans there’s the opportunity to ride to/from Joliet one way on the Heritage Corridor and the other on the Rock Island District. Or just ride out on Train HX-01, hang out and hope BNSF and UP lay on some “entertainment”, and return on HX-02.

  7. Don’t forget that Amtrak has always provided weekend service on this route, but only stops at Summit (3 trips S/B and 4 trips N/B) and Joliet (5 trips each day.)

  8. Maybe Metra could have one of its heritage units on these trains. Good p.r and would help those who’d like to photograph them but never know when or where to go.

  9. So I take it “Heritage” is Rock Island, probably the Suburban Loop and not the Main Line. Right? As of 2005 the C&A Route (GM&O to more recent people) used the same station in Joliet as the CRI&P. While the C&A was “In in the AM and Out in the PM Only” the Rock could be used to get back into town via frequent service on the Loop. The rare Main Line I got by riding out to Blue Island (I think it was) and then walking a few hundred feet to the IC’s Blue Island branch and going back in to get that.

    1. Turns out Heritage is the Chicago & Alton (OK–GM&O!) line to Joliet! They must have put more trains on it–patronage patterns in 2005 showed they could have used for trains.

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