Beginning Aug. 1, Metra will launch a trial program to enhance midday service on the Rock Island Line by adding express trains that will speed the trip between suburban stations and downtown Chicago by 15 to 20 minutes.
Metra is modifying its schedule to add three inbound express trains and two outbound express runs during the midday. The three inbound trains will make all stops from Joliet to Blue Island and then express to the 35th Street/Lou Jones Station or the LaSalle Street Station with the option for passengers to request a flag stop at the 35th Street/Lou Jones. Three additional inbound trains will originate in Blue Island, make all stops along the Beverly Branch, stop at Gresham and serve 35th Street/Lou Jones with either a flag stop or scheduled stop. Suburban customers going to a Beverly Branch station and branch riders heading to the suburbs will need to transfer at Blue Island. The schedule has been designed to make that transfer easy and convenient.
Two midday outbound express trains have also been added. These trains will offer express service from LaSalle Street to Blue Island and stations further south with the option of flag stops at 35th Street/Lou Jones. Two midday outbound trains will also accommodate riders along the line’s Beverly Branch. These trains will also make flag stops at 35th Street/Lou Jones. Customers boarding these outbound trains at a Beverly Branch station needing to travel further south can make a convenient transfer at Blue Island.
Customers wishing to make transfers should tell their conductor on the first leg of their trip so their ticket can be marked appropriately. In addition, at stations marked as flag stops, the train will stop to discharge passengers only if the passengers notify the conductor and will stop to pick up passengers only if they are visible to the engineer on the platform.
“Reducing travel times will encourage more people from the south suburbs to take the train. The added inbound express trains are ideal for recreational trips into the city and the addition of the 1:30 p.m. outbound express will be popular for those working a half day,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “This is another example of how we are identifying opportunities to meet market needs within the bounds of our existing resources.”
The enhanced schedule was driven by the success of the weekend express service added last year, which has proven to be popular with customers.
The service improvement will operate as a six-month pilot project. Ridership will be evaluated before any decision is made to make a permanent change to the Rock Island schedule. The added service is expected to cost about $290,000 annually.
A summary of the changes accompanies this release. New timetables will be available shortly on Rock Island trains and stations. The new schedule also can be found at metrarail.com.