Rock Island District
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|Rock Island District|
|Owner||Metra (LaSalle Street Station to Blue Island) CSX (South of Blue Island)|
|Termini||LaSalle Street Station|
|Operator(s)||Metra, CSX, Iowa Interstate Railroad, Chicago Rail Link|
|Daily ridership||32,100 (Avg. Weekday 2009)|
|Opened||April 1, 1870|
|Line length||40.2 mi (64.7 km)|
6.7 mi (10.8 km) Suburban Branch (Gresham Jct.—Blue Island)
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
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.
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.
The track is owned by Metra, bought from the bankrupt Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad for $35 million in December 1982 (equivalent to $93.9 million in 2020). 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[which?] to connect with the Iowa Interstate and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroads.
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.
The Englewood Flyover, an overpass located in the Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, eliminated delays for the Rock Island. The overpass replaced a diamond crossing with the Norfolk Southern's Chicago Line. The overpass proposed by Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), which cost $142 million to construct, was completed in October 2014.
In recent years, Metra has expressed a desire to electrify and modernize the line if funding became available.
The February 2018 timetable shows 33 trains out of Chicago each weekday, of which 9 terminate at Blue Island, 23 at Joliet, and 1 at Tinley Park. Originally the train that terminates at Tinley Park terminated at New Lenox. The February 2018 timetable also shows 34 weekday trains in to Chicago of which 22 start at Joliet. The remaining 12 start at Blue Island-Vermont Street. Weekend express trains run through to Joliet, while weekend local trains make a short run to Blue Island. A few locals however, run down to Joliet.
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.
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 23, 2015, Metra announced that the weekend express service would become permanent upon completion of the trial period on November 29, 2015.
The Rock Island District runs a few empty equipment move (deadhead) trains, most during the weekdays. Inbound deadheads are scheduled between the Joliet, Mokena-Front Street, and Tinley Park stations and run to Blue Island-Vermont Street.
There are proposals to extend the line from Joliet to LaSalle-Peru in LaSalle County with intermediate stations at Rockdale, Minooka, Morris, Seneca, Marseilles, Ottawa and several others. A feasibility study was completed in 2003.
|Zone||Location||Station||Connections and notes|
|A||Chicago||LaSalle Street||Chicago "L": Blue Line (at LaSalle), Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple Line lines (at LaSalle/Van Buren)|
CTA Bus: 1, 7, 22, 24, 36, 126, 130, 151, 156
|Chicago "L": Red Line (at Sox–35th), Green Line (at 35th–Bronzeville–IIT)|
CTA Bus: 24, 31, 35, 39
Pace: 773, 774, 775
|B||Englewood||Closed late 1970s|
|Auburn Park||Closed 1978, planned to reopen in 2023|
|Gresham||CTA Bus: 8A, 24, 87, N87|
|C||Brainerd||CTA Bus: 9|
|91st Street – Beverly Hills|
|95th Street – Beverly Hills||CTA Bus: 95|
Pace: 381, 395
(rush hours only)
|CTA Bus: N9, 95, 112|
Pace: 381, 395
|99th Street–Longwood||Closed 1985|
|99th Street – Beverly Hills|
|103rd Street – Beverly Hills||CTA Bus: 103|
|107th Street – Beverly Hills|
(rush hours only)
|CTA Bus: 9, 103, 112|
|111th Street – Morgan Park||CTA Bus: 112|
|115th Street – Morgan Park|
|Blue Island||119th Street||CTA Bus: 119|
|Blue Island–Vermont Street||Metra: Metra Electric District (at Blue Island)|
Pace: 348, 349, 359, 385
|E||Oak Forest||Oak Forest||Pace: 354, 364, 383|
|Tinley Park||Tinley Park||Pace: 386|
|Tinley Park – 80th Avenue|
|F||Mokena||Mokena – Hickory Creek|
|Mokena – Front Street|
|G||New Lenox||New Lenox|
|H||Joliet||Joliet||Metra: Heritage Corridor|
Amtrak: Lincoln Service, Texas Eagle
Pace: 501, 504, 505, 507, 508, 509, 511, 832, 834
- "Ridership Reports - System Facts". Metra. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
- Carlson, Norman (ed.). "Metra 2020: My Metra, Major Construction Projects and New Car Procurement". First & Fastest. Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. 37 (1): 10.
- "Did you know?" (PDF). On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-01-02.
- Metra. "Metra to open new station at 35th St. in time for White Sox home opener". Archived from the original on 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
- "P1 63rd and State (Englewood) Flyover" (PDF). CREATE. October 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Wronski, Richard (October 23, 2014). "'Flyover' aimed at cutting rail congestion". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Lassen, David (January 7, 2019). "Metra's big 'ask:' a $5 billion plan for improvements". Trains Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Sullivan, Dennis (May 28, 2015). "Weekend express trains starting on Rock Island Line". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Illinois Valley Commuter Rail Feasibility Study (PDF) (Report). CTE Engineers, LTK Engineering Services. August 2003. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
- O'Brien, Ken (January 24, 2002). "Will panel endorses extension of Metra". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
- Freund, Sara (August 12, 2019). "Construction on two Metra stations starts up again after state funding kicks in". Curbed. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
- "Cook County's Pilot Program Aims To Boost Metra Electric, Rock Island Ridership By Slashing Fares In Half". Block Club Chicago. 2021-01-29. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
- "Fair Transit South Cook | CookCountyIL.gov". www.cookcountyil.gov. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
- "RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANNUAL REPORT 2018" (PDF). Metra. p. 4. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- "RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANNUAL REPORT 2019" (PDF). Metra. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- "Metra's midday express service on Rock Island Line to start Monday". Metra. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
- Carlson, Norman (ed.). "Metra 2020: My Metra, Major Construction Projects and New Car Procurement". First & Fastest. Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. 37 (1): 9.
- Golden, Jamie Nesbitt (8 December 2020). "Construction Starts Soon On Auburn Park Metra Station Along Rock Island Line". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
- Ridership Trends - Annual Report 2017 (PDF) (Report). Metra Division of Strategic Capital Planning. February 2018. p. 32. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- J. David Ingles, Metra: "Best Commuter Train", Trains July 1993
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