Union Pacific / North Line

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Union Pacific / North Line
Highland Park Metra train 070915.jpg
A southbound train departs Highland Park station
Type Commuter Rail
System Metra
Status Operational
Locale Chicago metropolitan area
Termini Ogilvie Transportation Center
Stations 27
Daily ridership 41,000 (Avg. Weekday 2009)[1]
Owner Union Pacific Railroad
Operator(s) Union Pacific Railroad
Line length 51.9 miles (83.5 km)[2]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
51.6 Kenosha
KD Line
to Rockford
44.5 Winthrop Harbor
42.1 Zion
35.9 Waukegan
33.7 North Chicago
Canadian National Railway
32.2 Great Lakes(Lake Bluff)
30.2 Lake Bluff
28.3 Lake Forest
25.7 Fort Sheridan(Highwood)
24.5 Highwood
23.0 Highland Park
21.5 Ravinia(Highland Park)
20.9 Ravinia Park(Highland Park)
20.5 Braeside(Highland Park)
19.2 Glencoe
17.7 Hubbard Woods(Winnetka)
16.6 Winnetka
15.8 Indian Hill(Winnetka)
15.2 Kenilworth
14.4 Wilmette
13.3 Central Street(Evanston)
North Shore channel
Mayfair division
Purple Line
to Linden
12.0 Davis Street(Evanston)
11.5 Dempster(Evanston)
11.0 Main Street(Evanston)
10.3 Calvary(Evanston)
Purple Line
to Howard or Loop
Yellow Line
9.4 Rogers Park(Chicago)
8.4 Kenmore(Chicago)
7.8 Rose Hill(Chicago)
7.1 Summerdale(Chicago)
6.5 Ravenswood(Chicago)
Brown Line
to Kimball
6.2 Ravenswood-Wilson(Chicago)
5.5 Northcenter(Chicago)
Brown Line
to Loop
4.6 Belmont Avenue(Chicago)
3.5 Deering(Chicago)
Chicago River (north branch)
UP-NW to Harvard or McHenry
2.8 Clybourn(Chicago)
UP-W to Elburn
MD-N NCS MD-W Amtrak
Green and Pink lines
0.0 Ogilvie Transportation Center(Chicago)

The Union Pacific / North Line (UP-N) is a Metra line in the Chicago metropolitan area. It runs between Ogilvie Transportation Center and Waukegan, Illinois, with rush-hour trains continuing to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Although Metra owns the rolling stock, the trains are operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. (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.[3]) This line was known as the Chicago & Northwestern/North Line until C&NW was absorbed by Union Pacific circa 1995.

The current timetable has 35 weekday trains leaving Chicago, 17 of which terminate at Waukegan, 9 at Kenosha, 3 at Highland Park, 5 at Winnetka, 1 at North Chicago.


The route followed by the UP/North Line was constructed in 1854 by the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad.[4] 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.[5][6] 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.[7] The railroad merged with the Green Bay, Milwaukee & Chicago Railroad in 1863, and was acquired by the Chicago and North Western Railway in 1866.[6][8] 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.

All stations on the line except for Ravinia Park are open daily.

Current and future[edit]

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. Metra's initial plan called for significantly reduced service for the duration of the project.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] The project has since received little attention and is generally considered "Dead."

In late 2015, the Racine City Council unanimously approved a study to extend the line from its current terminus at Kenosha to Racine.[13]

Car 553[edit]

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.[14] 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.

The Green Bay Trail parallel the Union Pacific / North Line, using the former right of way of the North Shore Line for over 51.9 miles (83.5 km) from Chicago Loop to Kenosha, Wisconsin.


  1. ^ "Ridership Reports – System Facts". Metra. Retrieved April 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ Metra Railfan Tips – Union Pacific/North Line Archived September 12, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Did you know?" (PDF). On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009. 
  4. ^ "Gurnee History". Village of Gurnee. Retrieved September 16, 2007. 
  5. ^ Mason, Blanche (1919). "Historical Sketch of Highland Park". Highland Park Public Library. Retrieved December 3, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Giles, H. H. (1879). "Wisconsin Railroads". The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin. Chicago: Western Historical Company. pp. 173–185. 
  7. ^ Ebner, Michael H. "Lake County, IL". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved September 21, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Chicago & North Western – A Capsule History". Chicago & North Western Historical Society. Retrieved September 16, 2007. 
  9. ^ Wronski, Richard (August 24, 2010). "New Metra Union Pacific North schedule snarls commute for many". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ Wronski, Richard (September 25, 2010). "Metra's UP North bridge project pitting city riders vs. suburbanites". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Reports". Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Commuter Link. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  12. ^ Sandler, Larry (July 25, 2011). "It's official: Rail line from Kenosha to Milwaukee is dead". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ Asiyanbi, Heather (November 4, 2015). "City Council Unanimously Approves Metra Study". Racine County Eye. Archived from the original on November 11, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ Wronski, Richard (July 20, 2009). "Public Transit's Private Club". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on October 23, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata