News & Reviews News Wire News photos: Metra operates congressional special

News photos: Metra operates congressional special

By David Lassen | December 10, 2023

Rare Sunday move on North Central line shows off O’Hare route, sees train turned from usual direction

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Blue and white locomotives lead commuter train
SD70MAC No. 507 and holiday-decorated “Chicago” paint scheme F40PH-3 No. 104 lead a Metra special train through Elmwood Park, Ill., on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. David Lassen

CHICAGO — In a rarity on a number of fronts, Metra operated a special train today (Sunday, Dec. 10) for members of Congress between Chicago Union Station and the O’Hare Airport station on the North Central Service line. The train, using one of Metra’s decorated holiday train sets generally led by F40PH-3 No. 104, the specially painted Chicago commemorative unit, had one of the commuter operators new SD70MACH units, No. 507, on the point. It was a rare weekend Metra move on the North Central line — albeit just a small fraction of that route, after leaving the Milwaukee West line at tower B-12 in Franklin Park, Ill. At least equally rare, the train was turned from the normal direction for operations on the North Central line, meaning it was led by its cab car leaving Union Station and its locomotives entering the station.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) said in posts on X (formerly Twitter) that the train trip was part of the Bipartisan Policy Center Congressional Exchange and was to discuss the infrastructure needs of Metra and other rail lines. The route offered Metra a chance to show off the potential for service between downtown and O’Hare it hopes to develop  [see “Metra’s big ‘ask’ …” Trains News Wire, Jan. 7, 2019, and “Creating a New Path,” Chicago: America’s Railroad Capital, Updated 2023 edition.

White locomotive with holiday lights
Metra’s Chicago unit, with holiday lights, at the station end of platform 5 at Chicago Union Station on Sunday, awaiting departure with a congressional special. Bob Johnston

5 thoughts on “News photos: Metra operates congressional special

  1. When SEPTA started RR service (real RR; actually serves the Airport with stations at the terminals) they set up carry-on (carry on the train) corrals in some of the cars.

    When they intertwined the Airport trains with other lines, the special carry-on cars reverted to coaches. Some airlines use Center-City hotels and they use the rail service. Wouldn’t you like to know your Pilot commuted to the Airport on the train?

  2. Politically, Metra to O’Hare is a problem.

    They did build a shelter. CDOT offers a shuttle bus to the terminal. They could have included a walkway through the new parking garage to reach the recirculator, but like I said, politically, they prefer people use the CTA to reach O’Hare.

    Having used the CTA to reach O’Hare, can’t say the cars are designed to bring luggage along as it will take a seat or block the aisle. If the car is crowded you will get the stink eye.

    Metra is only slightly better. You can leave your bags in the handicap/wheelchair area of the car, but usually only if you can sit nearby to keep an eye on it. Typically, people just turn over the opposite bench and wheel the luggage next to them. The overhead rack can only handle carry on bags only.

    Remember when Metra announced the new stations on the Chicago South Side, a civil war started between the then mayor and county board chair. Shortly after CTA announced yet more enhancements and extensions to the southside.

    So if Metra is looking to either increase/improve or enhance O’Hare service, other than a shuttle bus, don’t expect much more from CDOT or the City.

    1. Luggage space? Well, how far do you take it?

      Dial back Logan Airport to before the Silver Line. The Blue Line has no luggage space. Suppose it did? The Blue Line goes essentially nowhere, other than to connect to other subways. My ride home from Logan to North Quincy was four seats (before the Silver Line). From the terminal, the Logan bus shuttle (luggage rack). Then the Blue, Green, and Red Lines (no luggage racks).

      At Denver, the A-Line to the airport has luggage racks, can’t say the other lines, haven’t been on any of them.

    2. @Charles says: “Luggage space? Well, how far do you take it?”

      Just as one car of each transit set has a bike rack with a sticker on the car denoting it, for the new Coradia based cars, simply do the same. Have an assigned area and a sticker on the one car in the consist that can take luggage.

      Use those cars for the trip that has O’Hare as a stop.

You must login to submit a comment