Rock Island District

Route map:
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Rock Island District
Metra LaSalle Street Station.jpg
Rock Island trains at LaSalle.
OwnerMetra (LaSalle Street Station to Blue Island) CSX (South of Blue Island)
Stations15 (via Main Line)
24 (via Suburban Line)
26 (total) (1 under construction) Edit this at Wikidata
TypeCommuter rail
Operator(s)Metra, CSX, Iowa Interstate Railroad, Chicago Rail Link
Daily ridership32,100 (Avg. Weekday 2009)[1]
OpenedApril 1, 1870[2]
Line length40.0 mi (64.4 km)
6.7 mi (10.8 km) Suburban Branch (Gresham Jct.—Blue Island)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Map Rock Island District highlighted in red
LaSalle Street Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
3.1 mi
5 km
35th Street Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
47th Street Yard and Shops
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
6.7 mi
10.8 km
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
7.2 mi
11.6 km
Normal Park
7.8 mi
12.6 km
Hamilton Park
8.6 mi
13.8 km
Auburn Park
Under construction
9.8 mi
15.8 km
10.6 mi
17.1 km
11.3 mi
18.2 km
11.7 mi
18.8 km
10.9 mi
17.5 km
12.3 mi
19.8 km
11.4 mi
18.3 km
12.8 mi
20.6 km
12.0 mi
19.3 km
13.3 mi
21.4 km
13.8 mi
22.2 km
14.3 mi
23 km
12.9 mi
20.8 km
14.8 mi
23.8 km
15.2 mi
24.5 km
15.9 mi
25.6 km
Blue Island Coach Yard
16.4 mi
26.4 km
Blue Island–Vermont Street
Calumet Sag Channel
CSX Transportation
Indiana Harbor Belt
CSX Transportation
17.2 mi
27.7 km
18.4 mi
29.6 km
20.4 mi
32.8 km
Oak Forest
23.5 mi
37.8 km
Tinley Park
25.1 mi
40.4 km
Tinley Park – 80th Avenue
27.2 mi
43.8 km
Hickory Creek
29.6 mi
47.6 km
Hickory Creek
34.0 mi
54.7 km
New Lenox
Hickory Creek
EJ&E Railway
Joliet Coach Yard
40.2 mi
64.7 km
Joliet Amtrak

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" in honor of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad's Rocket passenger trains.[3]


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 $106 million in 2022). 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 (the Rock Island also ceased operations that year.) 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.[4]

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.[5] The overpass proposed by Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), which cost $142 million to construct, was completed in October 2014.[6]

In recent years, Metra has expressed a desire to electrify and modernize the line if funding became available.[7]


As of September 7, 2021, Metra operates 80 trains (40 inbound and 40 outbound) on the Rock Island District on weekdays, with 21 trains providing roundtrip service to and from Joliet, three to and from Tinley Park - 80th Avenue, and 16 to and from Blue Island-Vermont Street. Between Gresham and Blue Island, 17 of the Joliet roundtrips and all three Tinley Park trains operate via the main line, while four evening trains to and from Joliet as well as all Blue Island short-turn trains operate via the suburban branch.

On Saturdays, Metra operates 33 trains (16 inbound and 17 outbound) on the line, with 10 roundtrips to and from Joliet, six roundtrips to and from Blue Island, and an additional outbound train to Joliet. Of these trains, six Joliet roundtrips operate via the mainline, while the Blue Island short-turn trains, four Joliet roundtrips and an additional outbound Joliet train operate via the suburban branch.

On Sundays, Metra operates twenty-eight trains (14 roundtrips), eight to and from Joliet, and six to and from Blue Island. Of these, six of the Joliet roundtrips operate via the main line while the other two Joliet trains as well as all Blue Island short-turns operate via the suburban branch.

The Rock Island District consists of the former Rock Island main line to Joliet and the slightly longer suburban branch 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 weekday rush hours.

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 via the main line before making all stops to Joliet, bypassing the suburban branch entirely. Local trains run as well, making all stops on the suburban branch and terminating at Blue Island-Vermont Street. This cuts about 20 minutes off the trips from Blue Island to downtown.[8] 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 weekdays. Inbound deadheads are scheduled between the Joliet, Mokena-Front Street, and Tinley Park stations and run to Blue Island-Vermont Street.

There have been 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 other towns. A feasibility study was completed in 2003.[9][10] As of 2022, an extension only as far as Minooka has been considered feasible in the near future, and there are no currently active plans to carry out the extension.

After the passage of the Rebuild Illinois, $20 million was allocated for the long planned construction of a new Auburn Park station. Construction is expected to start in 2020.[11]

In the beginning of 2021, fares on the Rock Island, as well as the Metra Electric District, were cut in half for all passengers as part of a pilot program.[12][13]


From 2014-2019 annual ridership declined from 8,544,753 to 7,338,133, an overall decline of 14.1%.[14][15] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership dropped to 1,952,547 passengers in 2020 and 1,669,273 passengers in 2021.[16]



County Zone Location Station Connections and notes
Cook A Chicago LaSalle Street Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg Chicago "L": Blue (at LaSalle), Brown Orange Pink Purple (at LaSalle/Van Buren)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 1, 7, 22, 24, 36, 126, 130, 151, 156
Bus interchange City of Valparaiso: ChicaGo Dash
35th Street DodgerBlue flag waving.svg[17] Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg Chicago "L": Red (at Sox–35th), Green (at 35th–Bronzeville–IIT)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 24 Wentworth, 31 31st, 35 31st/35th, 39 Pershing
B Englewood Closed late 1970s
Normal Park Closed
Hamilton Park Closed
Auburn Park Closed 1978,[18] planned to reopen in 2023[19]
Gresham Bus interchange CTA Bus: 8A South Halsted, 24 Wentworth, 87 87th, N87 87th Owl
C Brainerd Bus interchange CTA Bus: 9 Ashland
91st Street–Beverly Hills
95th Street–Beverly Hills Bus interchange CTA Bus: 95 95th
Bus interchange Pace: 381 95th Street, 395 95th/Dan Ryan–UPS Hodgkins Limited
95th Street–Longwood
(rush hours only)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: N9 Ashland Owl, 95 95th, 112 Vincennes/111th
Bus interchange Pace: 381 95th Street, 395 95th/Dan Ryan–UPS Hodgkins Limited
99th Street–Longwood Closed 1985[20]
99th Street–Beverly Hills
103rd Street–Beverly Hills Bus interchange CTA Bus: 103 West 103rd
103rd Street–Washington Heights
(rush hours only)
Bus interchange CTA Bus: 9 Ashland, 103 West 103rd, 112 Vincennes/111th
107th Street–Beverly Hills
Givins Closed 1984[20]
111th Street–Morgan Park Bus interchange CTA Bus: 112 Vincennes/111th
115th Street–Morgan Park
Blue Island 119th Street Bus interchange CTA Bus: 119 Michigan/119th
123rd Street DodgerBlue flag waving.svg
D Prairie Street DodgerBlue flag waving.svg
Blue Island–Vermont Street Metra Metra:  Metra Electric (at Blue Island)
Bus interchange Pace: 348 Harvey–Riverdale–Blue Island, 349 S Western, 359 Robbins–S Kedzie Ave, 385 87th/111th/127th
Robbins Robbins DodgerBlue flag waving.svg Bus interchange Pace: 359 Robbins–South Kedzie Avenue
Midlothian Midlothian Bus interchange Pace: 354 Harvey–Oak Forest Loop
E Oak Forest Oak Forest Bus interchange Pace: 354 Harvey–Oak Forest Loop, 364 159th Street, 383 South Cicero
Tinley Park Tinley Park Bus interchange Pace: 386 South Harlem
Tinley Park – 80th Avenue
F Mokena Hickory Creek
Will Mokena
G New Lenox New Lenox
H Joliet Joliet Metra Metra:  Heritage Corridor
Amtrak Amtrak: Lincoln Service, Texas Eagle
Bus interchange Pace: 501, 504, 505, 507, 508, 509, 511, 832, 834

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ridership Reports - System Facts". Metra. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  2. ^ Carlson, Norman (ed.). "Metra 2020: My Metra, Major Construction Projects and New Car Procurement". First & Fastest. Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. 37 (1): 10.
  3. ^ "Did you know?" (PDF). On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-01-02.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "P1 63rd and State (Englewood) Flyover" (PDF). CREATE. October 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  6. ^ Wronski, Richard (October 23, 2014). "'Flyover' aimed at cutting rail congestion". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  7. ^ Lassen, David (January 7, 2019). "Metra's big 'ask:' a $5 billion plan for improvements". Trains Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Dennis (May 28, 2015). "Weekend express trains starting on Rock Island Line". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  9. ^ Illinois Valley Commuter Rail Feasibility Study (PDF) (Report). CTE Engineers, LTK Engineering Services. August 2003. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  10. ^ O'Brien, Ken (January 24, 2002). "Will panel endorses extension of Metra". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  11. ^ Freund, Sara (August 12, 2019). "Construction on two Metra stations starts up again after state funding kicks in". Curbed. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Fair Transit South Cook |". Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  14. ^ "RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANNUAL REPORT 2018" (PDF). Metra. p. 4. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  15. ^ "RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANNUAL REPORT 2019" (PDF). Metra. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Metra's midday express service on Rock Island Line to start Monday". Metra. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  18. ^ Carlson, Norman (ed.). "Metra 2020: My Metra, Major Construction Projects and New Car Procurement". First & Fastest. Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. 37 (1): 9.
  19. ^ 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.


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

External links[edit]

KML is from Wikidata