|Metra SouthWest Service|
SouthWest Service #827 leaves Union Station in 2011.
|Daily ridership||9,500 (Avg. Weekday 2009)|
|Owner||Norfolk Southern Railway (Leased to Metra)|
|Track length||40.6 miles|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The SouthWest Service (SWS) is a Metra commuter rail line, running southwest from Union Station in downtown Chicago, Illinois, to Manhattan, Illinois. Metra does not refer to its lines by color, but the timetable accents for the SouthWest Service line are "Banner Blue," for the Wabash Railroad's Banner Blue passenger train. The trackage is owned by Metra north of a junction with the Belt Railway of Chicago at Loomis Boulevard, and is leased from Norfolk Southern Railway south of the junction (NS has trackage rights over Metra's portion).
In April 2013 the public timetable shows 15 trains leaving Chicago each weekday, three to Manhattan and the rest to Orland Park.
Metra started Saturday service on March 21, 2009, with six trains between Union Station and Manhattan.
The line south of the curve at the east end of the section aligned with 75th Street was built by the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway, which opened in 1880 to Chicago. That curve was a junction with the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, of which the Wabash owned one-fifth, and used to reach Dearborn Station in downtown Chicago.
After several reorganizations the Wabash Railroad was leased by the Norfolk and Western Railway in 1964; by then the only passenger train was the Chicago-Orland Park commuter service. For several years N&W used a track west of Dearborn station. In 1976 the terminal moved to Union Station, via a new connection at Alton Junction, and the Regional Transportation Authority began to subsidize the service in 1978. N&W merged into the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982, and for a while the line was known as the Norfolk Southern Line (NS). On June 1, 1993 Metra took over operations and renamed it the SouthWest Service.
The rail line expansion project, which includes 11 miles (18 km) of new track and at least two additional train stations, was completed (except for the Laraway Road station) in January 2006. The number of trains per day increased from 16 to 30, 15 in each direction. For years, Pace operated Route 835, whose bus service enhanced the limited train service in the SouthWest Service corridor. With the rail service expansion, ridership on route 835 became so poor that Pace eliminated it on August 17, 2007.
In the near future, SouthWest Service trains may shift from Union Station to LaSalle Street Station via a new connection at 75th Street. This would relieve congestion at Union Station and improve reliability for the SouthWest Service.
SouthWest Service trains make the following station stops:
- Union Station
- Oak Lawn
- Chicago Ridge
- Palos Heights
- Palos Park
- Orland Park 143rd Street
- Orland Park 153rd Street
- Orland Park 179th Street
- Laraway Road
- "Ridership Reports - System Facts". Metra. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- "Did you know?". On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009.
- http://web.me.com/willvdv/chirailfan/mmsw.html Metra Railfan Tips - North Central Service
- Hood, Joel (March 2, 2009). "Metra adding Saturday service to SouthWest line in March". Chicago Metra. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- "Metra Moving". Railway Track & Structures. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- J. David Ingles, Metra: "Best Commuter Train", Trains July 1993
- Arrivals & Departures, Trains August 1993