Rock Island District

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Rock Island District
Metra LaSalle Street Station.jpg
Rock Island trains at LaSalle.
Type Commuter Rail
System Metra
Termini LaSalle Street Station
Stations 26
Daily ridership 32,100 (Avg. Weekday 2009)[1]
Owner Metra (LaSalle Street Station to Blue Island) CSX (Beyond Blue Island)
Operator(s) Metra, CSX, Iowa Interstate Railroad, Chicago Rail Link
Line length 40.2 (6.7 Suburban Branch from Gresham Jct. to Blue Island)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
0.0 LaSalle Street
Orange Line
3.1 Jones/Bronzeville (Flag Stop)
Green Line
Red Line
9.8 Gresham
SouthEast Service
10.6 Brainerd
11.3 91st Street – Beverly Hills
17.7 95th Street – Beverly Hills
10.9 Longwood
12.3 99th Street – Beverly Hills
12.8 103rd Street – Beverly Hills
12.0 Washington Heights
13.3 107th Street – Beverly Hills
13.8 111th Street – Morgan Park
14.3 115th Street – Morgan Park
14.8 119th Street – Blue Island
15.2 123rd Street – Blue Island (Flag Stop)
15.9 Prairie Street (Flag Stop)
ME to Millennium Station
Blue Island
16.4 Vermont Street
17.2 Robbins (Flag Stop)
18.4 Midlothian
20.4 Oak Forest
23.5 Tinley Park
25.1 Tinley Park – 80th Avenue
27.2 Mokena – Hickory Creek
29.6 Mokena – Front Street
34.0 New Lenox
40.2 Joliet Amtrak
HC Amtrak to Union Station
Lincoln Service
to St. Louis
Texas Eagle
to Los Angeles

The Rock Island District (RI) is a Metra commuter rail line from Chicago, Illinois, southwest to Joliet. Metra does not refer to its lines by color, but the timetable accents for the Rock Island District line are "Rocket Red". This refers to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad's Rocket passenger trains.[2]

The November 2015 timetable shows 34 trains out of Chicago each weekday, of which 9 terminate at Blue Island, 24 at Joliet, and 1 at Tinley Park. Originally the train that terminates at Tinley Park terminated at New Lenox. Weekend express trains run through to Joliet, while weekend local trains make a short run to Blue Island.

The track is owned by Metra, bought from the bankrupt Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad for $35 million in December 1982. The Regional Transportation Authority had signed a contract with the Rock Island in 1976 to fund service, and in 1980 the Chicago and North Western Railway began operating the Rock Island District. In spring 1981 the C&NW stepped away, and the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) was formed to take over operations. Through freight trains on the line are operated by CSX and Iowa Interstate Railroad on a trackage rights agreement. In addition, Chicago Rail Link has rights to operate local freight service on the whole district, and it also uses the line between Gresham Wye and Blue Island to connect with the Iowa Interstate and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroads.

The Rock Island District consists of the former Rock Island main line to Joliet and the slightly longer Suburban Line that loops to the west between Gresham and Blue Island. Most trains use the latter; the two stations on that part of the main line are served only during rush hour and during weekend express operations.

The Suburban Line was built in 1870 as a steam dummy line, splitting from the main line just north of 99th Street, running west along 99th and turning south to the present line at the S-curve just south of 99th. The crossing of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway midway along 99th was known as Dummy Crossing. In the early 1890s the line was extended north to 89th Street in conjunction with the expansion of the Chicago Terminal Transfer Railroad, and the portion on 99th was removed.

A new station at 35th Street and Federal Street opened on April, 3 2011 to serve U.S. Cellular Field and the Illinois Institute of Technology. It was named 35th Street/'Lou' Jones/Bronzeville Station after Lovana Jones who was an Illinois State Representative in the Bronzeville neighborhood.[3]

In June 2015, Metra began weekend express service on the Rock Island District. The six express trains that operate on both Saturday and Sunday run express from 35th Street to Blue Island-Vermont Street before making all stops to Joliet, bypassing the entire Beverly branch. Local trains run as well, making all stops on the Beverly branch and terminating at Blue Island-Vermont Street. This cuts about 20 minutes off the trips from Blue Island to downtown. On August 23rd, 2015, Metra announced that the weekend express service would become permanent upon completion of the trial period on November 29th, 2015.


During rush hour mainline and branch line trains are split. A few rush-hour trains make main line stops between Gresham and Blue Island - Vermont Street:

See also[edit]


  • J. David Ingles, Metra: "Best Commuter Train", Trains July 1993

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

Media related to Metra Rock Island District at Wikimedia Commons