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The Signal

Welcome to The Signal, Metra's blog where you can learn more about the agency, our employees, stations and services. Each post will give our customers a deeper look at what makes Metra, one of the largest and most complex commuter rail systems in North America, move. You'll find semi-weekly features on the diverse group of men and women who work at every level of our organization, the stations you pass by during your trip around Chicagoland and the people who sit next to you on your daily commute.

We'd also love to hear from you. Have an idea for The Signal? Send it to social@metrarr.com.

(August 10, 2018) -   The computerized voice states the word so calmly it doesn’t sound like there’s cause for concern. “Defect. Defect.” Despite the monotone delivery, the announcement sparks a commotion. Track inspectors on board the... Read more
(May 25, 2018) - When a young Andy Fletcher first saw a Burlington Northern train being pushed through Morias Pass in Glacier National Park, he was hooked. Rather than becoming a railfan who photographs or records video of trains, he instead learned... Read more
(April 20, 2018) -   A curious parade has taken the place of train service on the Milwaukee District North Line. On the northernmost part of the route, along a 17-mile, single-track stretch from Rondout to Fox Lake known as the J-Line, Metra’s... Read more
(March 8, 2018) - Nicole Jefferson woke up 20 years into her career as a Metra Electric clerk in need of change.   “My daughter was off to school and I said to myself, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’” Jefferson recalled. She found the... Read more
(February 23, 2018) - Snowstorms and winter weather affect more than the road conditions in the Chicagoland area; they affect the railroad, too. One particular issue caused by winter weather is snow- and ice-clogged switch points, which can bring a... Read more
(January 26, 2018) - In the weeks since he officially became Metra’s CEO/Executive Director, Jim Derwinski has devoted some of his time to getting to know the agency’s employees and, in turn, letting those who make the railroad run get a little... Read more
(January 12, 2018) - Surprising your outgoing CEO with a locomotive outfitted in a vintage paint job in his honor requires a 12-pack of colored pencils, one expert painter and heaps of discretion. At least that was the case at Metra. Last month, the... Read more
(December 15, 2017) - A din of sirens echoing off the buildings in downtown Des Plaines preceded a stream of fire trucks, police vehicles and yellow school buses rolling down Lee Street to the Metra station. There was no emergency here; this parade... Read more
(December 8, 2017) - Imagine making a phone call from a moving train. That was probably too easy. Imagine walking to a wall-mounted phone, swiping your credit card and waiting for radio equipment to communicate with the Ameritech cellular phone... Read more
(November 21, 2017) - A parade of locomotives rolling from Georgia to Chicago continues. Earlier this month, Metra received the first of 30 rehabilitated F40PHM-2 locomotives from the Progress Rail plant in Patterson, Ga. Often referred to as... Read more
(October 27, 2017) - A piece of metal the size of a pencil eraser is all it takes to bring a train to a screeching halt. The air braking system on a train is made up of thousands of parts belonging to dozens of valves that control the flow of air... Read more
(October 13, 2017) - If you’re a passenger on the Milwaukee District North, Milwaukee District West, or North Central Service lines, you may have seen two locomotives sitting in the Western Avenue yard that don’t quite fit in. Beyond their road... Read more
(October 2, 2017) - Metra can take you to Mars, no special spacesuit necessary. OK. So it’s probably not the Mars you imagined. The terrain isn’t rocky or red and the trip seemed surprisingly short. Turns out, you’re still on earth, in Chicago’s... Read more
(September 15, 2017) - A surprise from 1977 has hit the rails. Metra on Thursday unveiled a special locomotive wrap on one of its F40PH locomotives to commemorate 40 years of continuous passenger service for the locomotive model that is the backbone... Read more
(August 18, 2017) - Tucked in the corner of the bathroom and beneath the stairs in every Metra car sits a small piece of machinery that enables all Metra commutes. The loading door motor is a critical part of every commuter railcar, opening and... Read more

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