Todd's Railfan Guide to
Chicago IL

In General


In General

Chicago, what better place is there for railfanning?

Metra is a commuter railroad that serves more than 100 communities with 241 stations on 11 lines running from Chicago’s downtown..... serving Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in the Chicago area.  It is the sister agency to the Chicago Transit Authority, which provides mass transit rail (the L) and bus service to Chicago and some suburbs, and Pace, which provides bus service primarily in the suburbs.  The majority of information presented here is from the METRA website, and specifically from their FAX page.

The 11 line are shown below:

The 11 lines are covered on their own pages:
    BNSF Railway to Aurora

Trains run frequently during weekday rush hours and about every hour during off-peak times. They also operate on weekends on most lines.

One way fares to downtown range from $2.75 from the closest zone, Zone A, to $9.25 from the farthest zone, Zone M.  The fares are distance based and include 12 zones.

Tickets are available for purchase at all downtown stations and at all outlying stations where a ticket agent is on duty.  One-way tickets can be purchased on the train, but if an agent is on duty at the station where you boarded, the conductor will charge you an additional $3.  Ten-ride tickets and monthly passes also can be purchased online.

Holidays use the Sunday schedules.

Monthly permit and/or daily fee parking is available at most stations.  However, Metra does not administer permit parking at the stations.  Each township, municipality or city in which the station is located has different parking rules and regulations.  There is a link to each municipality on appropriate station page.

There is no checked baggage on Metra trains. Because of limited space, skis, non-folding carriages or other large items cannot be carried.  Baggage should not block aisles or other seats.  Please comply with train crew instructions.

Metra receives 55 percent of its funding from fares. The rest is from public subsidies, primarily a small regional transportation sales tax, which also helps to fund the CTA and Pace.

Where is Metra’s headquarters?   They are at 547 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago IL, 60661

Metra's photo policy can be found here.

Photography & Videography: For safety and security reasons, photography or videography on Metra property is only permitted in areas that are clearly open to public use.  Areas that are accessible only to Metra employees, including but not limited to, the right-of way and rail yards, are highly restricted areas and are not able to be accessed for photography or videography by the general public.  Metra will prosecute trespassers to the fullest extent of the law.

Metra's homepage is here.

As always, if you have something to add or correct, my email is here


In the map below, in the downtown detail, red stations are current stations, and depots of years gone by are in blue.



07/19/2012 Facts about Metra’s Highliner purchase

Nippon Sharyo has used state and local incentives and an order from Metra to start a new passenger railcar-building business in Rochelle, Illinois. The new facility was officially opened today in a ceremony attended by officials from Nippon Sharyo, Gov. Pat Quinn, federal and local officials and Metra Chairman Larry Huggins and Executive



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NEW 08/14/2012
Last Modified 27-Nov-2013