This section generally covers railroads serving Chicago and most of the four states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan (Lower Peninsula), and Wisconsin.
For the larger railroads, separate pages are provided for the former railroads. And for the larger former railroads, pages are organized by historic operating divisions. The former operating divisions for New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad are grouped with either CSX or Norfolk Southern, according to the present railroad acquiring most of the routes in each area. New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad of course became Penn Central in 1968 and Conrail in 1976, which was finally divided in 1999 between CSX and Norfolk Southern.
Also included are abandoned lines and segments, with stations indicated in italics. Some larger railroads sold segments of trackage to newer short line railroads, but not all segments were sold. Some abandoned trackage is shown with the short line railroads, as the most concise way for completeness.
References are occasionally made to obscure branch lines and industrial lines. But these lines are not always fully explained, sometimes due to early abandonments or lack of adequate descriptions in employee timetables or other resources.
LARGE FREIGHT RAILROADS
The six largest railroads in the United States and Canada, all formed through mergers of numerous smaller railroads. Mostly freight traffic, with some Metra and Amtrak trains. Included are abandoned lines, including lines abandoned by former railroads later evolving to these railroads.
Burlington Route/Burlington Northern
Baltimore & Ohio
Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio
New York Central
Chicago & Eastern Illinois/Monon Route/Louisville & Nashville
New York Central
Nickel Plate Road/Norfolk & Western
Wabash Railroad/Norfolk & Western
Chicago & North Western
Chicago & Eastern Illinois/Missouri Pacific
Alton Route/Gulf Mobile & Ohio
Grand Trunk Western/Detroit Toledo & Ironton
Illinois Central/Gulf Mobile & Ohio
Elgin Joliet & Eastern
Wisconsin Central/Soo Line
PASSENGER AND COMMUTER RAILROADS
Railroads directly operated by passenger or commuter rail systems. Freight traffic usually was limited enough, that it became practical for the publicly owned passenger train operators to assume ownership of this trackage.
Metra (Northeast Illinois Commuter Rail Corporation)
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District
Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
BELT AND TERMINAL RAILROADS
Jointly owned railroads, handling freight traffic of multiple railroads in larger metropolitan areas.
Belt Railway Of Chicago
Indiana Harbor Belt
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis
Alton & Southern
MEDIUM SIZE FREIGHT RAILROADS
Established railroads which remained independent, without merging into the larger railroads.
Ann Arbor Railroad
Illinois & Midland Railroad
Kansas City Southern
Toledo Peoria & Western
Railroads basically abandoned as redundant to acquiring railroads.
Erie Railroad/Erie Lackawanna
Chicago Great Western
Minneapolis & St. Louis
ADDITIONAL DEFUNCT RAILROADS
Railroads liquidated, with lines sold to other railroads.
Chicago & Western Indiana
Detroit & Mackinac
Peoria & Pekin Union
SHORT LINE RAILROADS
Smaller companies operating former main line trackage, no longer wanted by the large railroads. In 1976, the bankruptcy of Penn Central and other northeast railroads led to the formation of Conrail, which was free to abandon routes with limited traffic potential. Thus began a new trend of forming short line railroads, which could operate certain routes more successfully than the large railroads.
Descriptions of the various methods of train dispatching and signal systems, including explanations of CTC and other methods of authorizing train movements.
Explanations of the track diagrams on this Web site, which are color coded according to methods of train operation.
Official Web site for CREATE, which is an acronym for "Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program". This is a plan created by nearly all railroads and relevant government agencies in the Chicago area, consisting of numerous improvements which will reduce railroad congestion in the Chicago area.