metra electric

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19900421 26 Metra Electric, Park Forest South by David Wilson

Today, I rode on the final run of the Metra Electric highliners.

A bit of history: when the Illinois Central Railroad built Chicago’s first suburban route, running between the city and Hyde Park, it operated four daily round trips, which were pulled by steam engines. As the line expanded, it was electrified, and new self-propelled coaches were acquired. In 1971, the 1920s-era coaches were phased out and replaced by a third generation of equipment – the highliners, self-propelled bilevel coaches in gallery configuration.

Now, this third generation of equipment is being phased out of service, being replaced with a fourth generation of rolling stock – all made within the last twelve years, and complete with larger windows and modern amenities such as bathrooms. As of today, February 12, 2016, the classic highliners have been phased out of service entirely, after nearly forty-five years of continuous operation. I was privileged to ride on the final run of the Highliners, as they left Millennium Station for the last time.

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After the Blizzard of 1979 RTA(Metra) rebuilt these old Illinois Central Heavyweight Electric Passenger Cars into “Snow-Fighters” They were apparantly never used, and by 1988 they were stored in the old IC 83rd street yard where they were vandalized. They were eventually moved to Blue Island Yard and scrapped. Photo Credit : Lou Gerald and John Smatlak