METRA TIPS/PHOTOS

UNION PACIFIC - WEST LINE

Originally constructed as the Galena and Chicago Union Rail Road in 1848, this was Chicago's first railroad, before becoming part of the Chicago & North Western Railroad. West of West Chicago, the line was constructed northwest to Freeport, and was intended to eventually reach Galena. But the railroad changed its focus to instead continue the line directly west of West Chicago. This is now the UP freight main line to Omaha, connecting with the original UP, and has the heaviest freight volume of any of the UP commuter lines. Intercity passenger service beyond Geneva to Clinton, Iowa, was discontinued with the formation of Amtrak in 1971. Much of the line has 3 tracks, although there are no faster Metra trains scheduled to pass any slower Metra trains. Metra service ended at Geneva until January 23, 2006, when the service was extended 8 miles further west to Elburn. Many local stops existed in Chicago until 1958, when they were discontinued as part of a streamlining of the commuter service. The first suburb outside Chicago is the historic old town of Oak Park. And through Oak Park, the south portion of the right of way is now used by CTA's Lake Street Green Line. A few miles west of Oak Park is Proviso Yard, UP's main freight yard in the area. Immediately west of the yard is Elmhurst, which is a popular train watching spot. There are other good spots west of Elmhurst, where freight trains operate at a greater speed. Portions of the route once paralleled the Chicago Aurora and Elgin line, which was instrumental in the growth of many of the older suburbs in Du Page County. At the time, those electric interurban trains were more comfortable than C&NW's steam trains. But the interurban trains were discontinued in 1957, and much of the right-of-way was preserved as the Illinois Prairie Path. The Illinois Prairie Path parallels the UP through Glen Ellyn and Wheaton, but trees between the rights-of-way obstruct the viewing and photography possibilities. Wheaton is the seat of Du Page County, although a new county government complex has been constructed west of Wheaton, which is visible to the south by County Farm Road. Wheaton is also the home to Wheaton College. Geneva is the seat of Kane County, and is a historic old town along the Fox River, with many interesting shops and attractions within walking distance of the station. The river is crossed immediately before arriving in Geneva. Geneva's main business district is a few blocks north of the station, on 3rd Street. Weekdays are the best days to ride this line, as the more frequent Metra trains enable stopping over at different stations to watch freight trains.

Speed Limit: 70 mph


PHOTOS

Scenes along the line.


Metra Union Pacific West Expansion
Report from the extension of this line, January 23, 2006.