Included are lists of stations, crossings and junctions, mileposts, number of tracks, signal systems, and track diagrams for signaled lines. Also included are brief histories of each line, including construction, double tracking, and installation of signal systems.
Also included are links to "Lost Stations", covering former train stations along the routes. Including zoomable Google Maps. And included are links to histories of signal towers and interlockings along the lines.
This section generally covers railroads serving Chicago and most of the four states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
This section is presently being expanded, adding lines further from Chicago serving the four above states. Pages for the added lines are marked with UC for Under Construction.
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 evolved to Penn Central and then Conrail, which was finally divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern.
More concise information for longer distance routes is at the pages for Amtrak Routes, and for Historic Main Passenger Routes.
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.
Links marked with S or T include historical information on lost passenger Stations and interlocking Towers. Information on towers serving multiple railroads is not directly duplicated, but instead linked to a relevant page for the primary operating railroad. Information on the actual operating railroads is as accurate as possible, but not always available. Often when there is uncertainty and one of the railroads is an obscure long abandoned railroad, the tower is more likely listed with the more familiar railroad.
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.
PASSENGER AND COMMUTER RAILROADS
Railroads directly operated by passenger or commuter rail systems. Most lines include limited freight traffic.
Chicago area commuter routes no longer with significant freight railroad potential.
Former Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad.
A few segments outside the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak has operating jurisdiction.
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
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
Elgin Joliet & Eastern
Two jointly owned railroads handling freight traffic of multiple railroads.
MEDIUM SIZE FREIGHT RAILROADS
Established railroads which remained independent, without merging into the larger railroads.
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.
Railroads basically abandoned as redundant to acquiring railroads.
ADDITIONAL DEFUNCT RAILROADS
Railroads liquidated, with lines sold to other railroads.
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.
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.