Union Pacific North Line
|Union Pacific North Line|
A southbound train departs Highland Park station
|Locale||Chicago metropolitan area|
|Termini||Ogilvie Transportation Center
|Daily ridership||41,000 (Avg. Weekday 2009)|
|Owner||Union Pacific Railroad|
|Operator(s)||Union Pacific Railroad|
|Line length||51.9 miles (83.5 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Union Pacific North Line (UP-N) is a Metra commuter rail line in the Chicago metropolitan area that runs between Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois, with some trains continuing to Kenosha, Wisconsin. It is part of the Metra system, but it is operated by the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). (Metra does not refer to its lines by particular colors, but the timetable accents for the Union Pacific/North line are dark "Flambeau Green". The colors came from the company colors of the Chicago & North Western Railway, while "Flambeau" refers to the C&NW's Flambeau 400 passenger train.) This line was known as the Chicago & Northwestern/North Line until C&NW was absorbed by Union Pacific circa 1995.
In April 2013 the public timetable shows 35 trains leaving Chicago each weekday, of which 9 terminate at Kenosha and 17 at Waukegan (there are a total of 70 trains per day on the line, 35 northbound and 35 southbound).
The route followed by the UP/North Line was constructed in 1854 by the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad. Passenger service between Chicago and Waukegan commenced on January 4, 1855. Initially, a single train operated each day, departing from a terminal in Chicago at Water & Kinzie Streets at 8:30 am and returning from Waukegan at 3:30 pm. The president of the railroad, former Chicago mayor Walter S. Gurnee, speculated on land in Lake County spurring the development of railway suburbs along the line. The railroad merged with the Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad in 1863, and was acquired by the Chicago and North Western Railway in 1866. Commuter rail services along the line started operating into the new Chicago and North Western Terminal (now Ogilvie Transportation Center) in 1911, and became part of Metra when it was formed in 1984. The trains—though owned by Metra—continued to be operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway until that railroad was bought by UP in 1995. UP now operates passenger services along the line for Metra.
Current and Future
In 2010, Metra began a project to replace 22 bridges between Clybourn and Rogers Park, which are at the end of their design lives and in need of replacement. In Metra's initial plan called for significantly reduced service for the duration of the project. Widespread frustration with this service pattern led to the project being delayed to investigate potential ways to keep existing service. Many people were angry that the original plan for the project would have centered the tracks in the existing right-of-way, preventing any possibility of rebuilding a third track without rebuilding the entire right-of-way or purchasing additional land. Metra claimed that in order to maintain existing service levels during construction, $100 million in additional funding would be needed. This funding was eventually procured and in 2011, Metra began work on a modified plan that will allow pre-existing service levels to be maintained as the bridges are replaced.
There have been ongoing plans to extend the line, possibly as far as Milwaukee for many years. Wisconsin's now defunct Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) had completed several studies of the project, but was disbanded in 2011. An Application for funding under the FTA's New Starts program was submitted in 2010, and the agency received federal money for preliminary engineering and construction. In 2011, however, a new Wisconsin budget passed which disbanded SERTA. $15 million in federal funding was returned. The project has since received little attention and is generally considered "Dead."
Car 553 is a club car operating exclusively on the UP/North Line. It is not actually owned by the railroad, but by a private club of commuters. UP allows the operation at no charge, apart from collecting ticket fares from the club members, who are in charge of maintaining the railcar. Club membership was once limited to wealthy male commuters from affluent North Shore towns such as Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Highland Park, but is now open to any commuter on the line for a $900 annual membership fee. It is the last privately owned railcar in American commuter service.
The southern terminus of the UP/North Line is at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago. The route traverses Chicago's northern neighborhoods and its northern and far northern suburbs to Kenosha, Wisconsin, although most trains originate or terminate in Waukegan, Illinois.
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- Metra Railfan Tips – Union Pacific/North Line
- "Did you know?". On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009.
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- Mason, Blanche (1919). "Historical Sketch of Highland Park". Highland Park Public Library. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
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- Wronski, Richard (September 25, 2010). "Metra's UP North bridge project pitting city riders vs. suburbanites". The Chicago Tribute. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "KRMonline - Reports". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Sandler, Larry. "It's official: Rail line from Kenosha to Milwaukee is dead". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Wronski, Richard (July 20, 2009). "Public Transit's Private Club". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Metra Union Pacific/North service schedule
Media related to Metra Union Pacific/North Line at Wikimedia Commons