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Metra Electric train.jpg
A Highliner on the Metra Electric line berthed at a station in Chicago, Illinois.
Manufacturer St. Louis Car Company, Bombardier, Nippon Sharyo
Family name Original: Highliner
Stainless: Budd Gallery car
Constructed Original: 1971, 1978-1979
Stainless: 2005, 2012-present
Entered service Original: 1971-present
Stainless: 2005-present
Number built St Louis: 130
Bombardier: 36
Nippon: 201+
Formation Married-pair
Fleet numbers 1201–1226, 1501–1663 (Metra)
301–314 (NICTD)
Operator(s) Illinois Central, Metra, NICTD
Line(s) served Metra Electric, South Shore Line
Car body construction carbon steel (original), stainless steel (new)
Car length 85 feet (25.91 m)
Width 10.5 feet (3.20 m)
Height 15.83 feet (4.82 m) (to roof)
Floor height 4.298 feet (1.31 m)
Doors Original: 1 end vestibule, 2 center
Stainless: 2 center
Maximum speed 80 mph (130 km/h)
Weight 140,000 lb (64,000 kg) (empty)
Traction motors General Electric DC Motor model 1258
Power output 150 hp (110 kW) continuous, 160 hp (120 kW) maximum 1-hr rating per motor (4 per car)
Acceleration 1.36 mph/s (2.19 km/(h·s))
Deceleration 1.5 mph/s (2.4 km/(h·s))
Train heating Electric heat, air conditioning
Electric system(s) 1,500 V, DC Overhead lines
Current collection method Pantograph
Bogies Original: Outboard Bearing GSI 70
Braking system(s) Pneumatic, dynamic
Coupling system Tomlinson
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Highliner is a bilevel Electric Multiple Unit railcar. The original series of railcars were built in 1971 by the St. Louis Car Company for commuter service on the Illinois Central Railroad, in south Chicago, Illinois.


A second generation Nippon Sharyo Highliner on Metra Electric at Bryn Mawr.

In 1926, the Illinois Central's commuter rail lines were electrified, and began operating as the "IC Electric". For almost 40 years, the IC Electric continued to operate the original fleet of heavyweight cars, until the railroad decided that a more modern railcar was needed to resume commuter operations. The original Highliner fleet had a cost of approximately $40 Million. The railcars operated on electric catenary, and were more efficient than their heavyweight predecessors. A typical Highliner was able to seat 156 passengers, and run faster than the heavyweight fleet.

In 1976, the newly formed Regional Transportation Authority began to fund the IC Electric commuter service. In 1983, the RTA created Metra, Chicago's commuter rail service, and in 1987, Metra purchased the IC Electric line, forming the Metra Electric Line.

The original Highliners were rebuilt from 1978 to 1979 by the Bombardier company. Starting in 2005, the original fleet began to be phased out. They were replaced by new Highliners built by Nippon Sharyo of Japan, the same company that is currently in charge of production of Metra's fleet of gallery cars. The Nippon Sharyo Highliners are similar in appearance to the passenger cars used on Metra's diesel lines.

Currently, the South Shore Line electric railroad of Illinois and Indiana is purchasing new Highliners to supplement its fleet of EMUs.[1]


Number Built Initial User Year built Builder
160 Metra 2012–Present Nippon Sharyo
26 Metra 2005 Nippon Sharyo
14 NICTD 2008-2009 Nippon Sharyo
36 RTA 1978-1979 St. Louis/Pullman
130 Illinois Central 1971-1972 St. Louis/Pullman


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