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Trip Report

METRA in Chicago

February 9-13, 2002
Section 2 of 3


(Click small photos to see larger; all larger photos are less than 35K)

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Metra Again! Monday, February 11, 2002 (Continued)

METRA trains 105 & 112, Chicago (Union Station) to Antioch, Ill. And return.

Although I rode this line last year, I just had to do it again. It possesses a rural charm that is simply irresistible. I wrote about it last year, so just a brief capsule will be included here. Since I originally planned to skip this trip, I didnít record the radio channel that is used on this line. Hmmm, Iíll need to do a search as soon as I see the crew start talking. I must give credit here to Bill Vandervoort, who publishes a Railfans Guide to Chicago. The section "METRA Railfan tips" contains a wealth of information for each METRA line, that include radio frequencies used, station lists and signal rules. As Karl Maulden used to say, "donít leave home without it" I snap a photo of the departure sign before boarding. Once again, there is an on board-automated announcement of the trains destination and stops.

Antioch, IL, main street

We arrive in Antioch on time after an uneventful trip. I actually slept through most of it, so relaxing it was just riding this train, realizing the peace of the place I was heading for. I get off the train at the station, and walk into town. This is another place Iíd move to in a heartbeat if I could. I stop at the local Dunkiní Donuts and pick up a cup of coffee. They have a deal where you get a medium for only 25 cents! Wow some deal. I doubt Iíll do any better on this trip.

Wisconsin Central freight in Antioch

Returning to the station, I hear a train approaching from the south. Since there are no scheduled passenger trains due, Iím assuming itís a freight train. Last year, I just missed photographing the same train. A mistake I wonít repeat this time. With coffee in hand I head for a good photo spot, and set up in just enough time to catch Wisconsin Central GP units pulling a good size freight train.

Waiting Room, Antioch IL, METRA station

My all too brief sojourn in Antioch ends with the approach of METRA train #112 that will whisk me back to the windy city. A METRA police officer is riding back with us. From the bits and pieces of the conversation he had with the conductor, I got the impression that the METRA police department is, like most transit police departments: understaffed. Police services arenít always the highest item in the budget, but are very necessary for the protection of life and property. I would love to see more summonses handed out for things like jumping in front of trains. (Like the genius in Elgin did earlier today.) On this trip we encounter a 20-minute delay, following a fright train almost all the way back to Chicago. This helps me to decide on saving the trip to Geneva until tomorrow.

Chicago's Union Station

Arriving in Union station at 5:15 PM, I walk to the ĎLí and catch the next Brown line train to Diversey. One thing is for sure. The ĎLí is a mob scene at rush hour! Iím packed in like a sardine for the short ride. Iím thankful I donít have to do this every day! Between the ĎLí stop and my hotel is a Subway, so I pick up dinner: A cup of hot roasted chicken soup and a hot meatball sub garnished with Jalepeno peppers. As chilly as it is out tonight, I need something to warm me up, both physically and chemically!

Tuesday, February 12, 2002 (Lincolnís birthday)

I decide to sleep in this morning, having no valid reason to get up early. I hove only two more rail lines to ride, and I can do that with no problem even if I leave as late as 10:00 AM. I visit the breakfast bar in the hotel, and enjoy Danish and a cup of coffee. I bring another cup of coffee to my room with me and type a bit before heading out before 10. I decide to skip a ride on the line to Orland Park. Although I havenít ridden it yet, it doesnít generate a lot of excitement. It sits roughly between the Rock Island and METRA heritage lines that run to Joliet -- Iíve ridden both of those last year, and I consider the trip to Harvard a much better use of my Zone ĎKí ticket. I may do a trip to Orland Park tomorrow, but I wonít be crushed if I donít get to go there. So, I head for Ogilvie transportation center to catch the 11:30 to Harvard.

METRA trains #615 & 646 Chicago (OTC) to Harvard, Ill & return

Although I went here last year, and already went as far as Cary yesterday this beautiful piece of Illinois countryside keeps calling me back. Its charming lakes and rural towns provide a magnetic attraction. I love the country. Those of you reading this who live in Mc Henry County: How grateful you should be to live in such unspoiled beauty. You are fortunate enough to live in a place most people can only dream about!

Inside METRA's fantastic time-machine, aka Bi-level

By Cary, we have discharged most of our passengers. Here we pass a beautiful cluster of frozen lakes. Iím sure that this piece of country is pretty all year around, but winterís frozen splendor holds a special Charm, at least as far as I am concerned.

These trains are so relaxing to ride; the bilevel becomes a time machine that juxtaposes both past and present. It is a restful place for body and soul, this ride to Mc Henry. A release so to speak from the trials and tribulations of life. Here on the bilevel, racing through the Illinois countryside at 70 MPH, the world is at peace.

On the return trip, we encounter snow flurries at Crystal Lake, and they pop up intermittently all the way back to Chicago. We pick up a few folks at the stops; this is a local and our running times reflect that.

Discharging passengers, Harvard, IL Harvard's main street METRA station, Harvard, IL

After returning to Chicago, I make my way over to Union Station, and entering through the north, Iím greeted by a METRA Ďscream festí 4 SDP-40F Units fully wound up and screaming for all theyíre worth. All committed to the task of hauling tired commuters back to the Chicago Suburbs.

Continued in next section

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