Welcome to Photo Line!—This month's feature comes to us from photographer Don Seyller, a railroader from Chicago, Illinois. Chicago and commuter trains have gone hand in hand for since the first railroads offered the public a quick and inexpensive ride into the city. While there are fewer operators compared to the height of activity in the mid-20th century, commuter trains still play a vital role in moving Chicagoland residents to and from work and play. Metra provides service on eleven lines to more than 100 communities in northeast Illinois. Please join us as we explore the many faces of Chicago's Metra system. Photos by Don Seyller
Southwest Service layover at 14th Street, Chicago, Ilinois
Southwest Service (SWS) train tied up at BNSF’s 14th Street Yard during it’s midday layover. This is the second Saturday of running for Metra's SWS in September 2009. BNSF Railway is contracted by Metra to service the equipment that is used for the SWS. BNSF provides the mechanical personnel and the crews that service the Metra commuter trains. Trains layover at 14th Street after the morning runse, at night they tie up in Manhattan, Illinois. The iconic Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) rises with the city skyline in the background.
BNSF 2038 at 14th Street Yard, Chicago, Illinois
This is the switch engine that was being used at BNSF’s Suburban Services coach yard in Chicago, Illinois. The engine was resting for the weekend when this photo was taken on April 11, 2009. There is no switching done at the coach yard on the weekends because all of the trains are stored thirty six miles west in Aurora, Illinois. All the train sets will head out Monday morning and eventually make their way back to the 14th Street facility.
Metra 1243 at Roosevelt Road, Chicago, Illinois
Metra train 1243 screams out of Chicago’s Union Station and under Roosevelt Road heading for Aurora with a train load of commuters for points west. I took this photo while I was waiting for a train to pick me up and take me to the station so I can catch a train to take me home. I not only work for the railroad, I rely on them to get me home from work as well.
Headlight as seen through the rear door of a locomotive
This view was taken while I was working the service track at the 14th Street Yard. It was shot with a 10mp Nikon “point and shoot” camera that I can keep tucked away in my pocket. The locomotives are brought onto the service track in groups of three or four and the mechanical employees go to work on them like an army of ants. There is no playing around once the engines start rolling onto the service track. The locomotives have to be ready for the trains to depart. Zero delays are the standard we strive to meet.
"B" Yard is ready to rock!
This is August 2009 view of BNSF’s 14th Street Coach Yard looks north from "A" Yard. There are two yards at the 14th Street facility. They handle the nineteen train sets for the BNSF and five train sets that the BNSF services for Metra that run on the Southwest Service (which runs on Norfolk Southern trackage). Most of the trains in "B" Yard have received their engines from the service track, are getting their Class 1 air tests, the final mechanical repairs, (if any) and await their crews and scheduled departure times. The engine at the far left, (214) sits on the service track and is being sanded; the next engine to the right of the 214 is on the running track. That is the car and locomotive shop to the far left.
Coach 7410 and spare wheels at 14th Street Yard
Coach 7410 sits at the north end of the 14th Street shop. This coach and two others with one of the 400-series locomotives were on display for a company sponsored health fair for the employees and their families.
Hill Yard in Aurora, Illinois
This is a photo of tracks 11, 10, 9, and 4 west at the Hill Yard in Aurora, Illinois. The trains are tied up for the weekend. Only a few train sets operate for the weekend service, six on Saturdays and three on Sundays. They also have two sets ready as emergency standby equipment in case there is a problem with any of the scheduled sets. There are a total of nineteen train sets that tie up at the Hill Yard every night.
Hill Yard at night, Aurora, Illinois
It's almost three in the morning, the checks have been done, the head end power has been fired up and the trains are ready to depart BNSF’s Hill Yard. From there they will carry almost 40,000 people into the city of Chicago to work and pleasure, and in the evening bring them all back home. Tomorrow they will do it all over again. Aurora is where the trains tie up at night. The BNSF runs 106 commuter trains every weekday on the “racetrack” from Chicago to Aurora and back. The BNSF line is by far the busiest single line on the Metra system.