More Metra MACs Arrive in Chicago

Agency officials tell Railfan & Railroad that the first SD70MACH locomotives will begin testing this spring. Photo Courtesy of Metra.

More Metra MACs Arrive in Chicago

By Justin Franz 

CHICAGO — Metra expects to begin testing its new SD70MACH locomotives this spring, the railroad tells Railfan & Railroad. As of this month, there are three of the six-axle passenger locomotives on the property and a fourth is currently in Colorado being tested. 

Sean Cronin, senior director of mechanical capital projects, says the locomotives will first be tested on the BNSF and Milwaukee District lines out of Chicago. After testing they’ll be put in service on the BNSF Line, home to the famous triple track “Racetrack.” 

Metra has purchased 15 and could eventually acquire up to 27 of the unique SD70MACHs. The locomotives are being rebuilt by Progress Rail from former Kansas City Southern/Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana SD70MACs. This isn’t the first time Metra has used six-axle locomotives for passenger power. In the past, the agency has used former Burlington Northern E9s and Milwaukee Road F40Cs. When the SD70MACHs do enter service, they are sure to be some of the most unique locomotives in passenger service in country. 

“The main challenge with this new fleet will be some differences in maintenance of a 4-axle locomotive versus a 6-axle locomotive,” Cronin said. “Progress Rail is currently performing some initial training with Metra personnel on the maintenance of the SD70s.”

The locomotives are being rebuilt to Tier III emission standards and will be capable of 79 miles per hour, the top speed on the Metra system. 

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the number of units ordered. 

This article was posted on: January 19, 2023