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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.

(September 18, 2019) - Hundreds of switches line Metra’s railroad network. Most of the time, they work seamlessly to guide trains from one track to another. But when a single switch fails, it can delay thousands of customers. Metra performs regular... Read more
(July 12, 2019) - Of all the phone calls Metra Conductor Omarr Hardaway has had with his friend and former U.S. Army squad leader Bell, none compare to one he received this spring.  “We’re going to the White House,” Bell said.  Then came the voice... Read more
(May 10, 2019) - Like in any job, the life of a railroader has its ups and downs. While some days are routine within the glasshouse at Track 19, Metra’s hub for managing train traffic, crewmembers and announcements from Chicago Union Station’s north... Read more
(April 19, 2019) -   The rain started lightly, a few cold drops plopping onto hard hats and orange reflective vests inconspicuously from the dark skies above.   “Is it supposed to rain tonight?” Metra Track Foreman Luis Fallad asked.   Fallad and... Read more
(April 5, 2019) - Metra has changed the schedules for 10 of its 11 lines in the past three years alone.  Those schedule changes range from minor adjustments to reflect actual operating conditions or the addition of a station, all the way to more... Read more
(March 15, 2019) - When the polar vortex came roaring into the Chicago region in late January, bringing the coldest temperatures the region had experienced in more than three decades, businesses closed, schools canceled classes and the U.S. Postal... Read more
(March 8, 2019) -     We often receive questions about service disruptions as they are happening and as follow-ups the next day. We understand why: service disruptions add extra stress to an already long work day, interrupt scheduled plans and... Read more
(January 25, 2019) -   Late into the evening on Wednesday, Jan. 9, a group of Metra railroaders organized via email an early morning plan to place a special decal on Locomotive 405, which had just been painted in heritage colors of the old... Read more
(December 10, 2018) - Chicago, in all its beauty, has grit. It is Carl Sandburg’s “City of Big Shoulders;” it is Phillip B. Williams’ “city of African music festivals and Bud Billiken parades;” it is Frank Marshall Davis’ “overgrown woman wearing... Read more
(November 9, 2018) - Michelle Caffero used to feel claustrophobic at her job as the storekeeper of Metra’s Western Avenue Storehouse. But in the past three years, a dozen 30-foot long aisles of towering shelves have been condensed into a 20-foot... Read more
(November 2, 2018) - Some new players are nearly ready to be added to Metra’s locomotive roster. The first of 21 F59PHI locomotives Metra purchased from Amtrak has been spruced up with a fresh paint job and Metra branding, an important step in... Read more
(September 28, 2018) -   Dark clouds form over a group of Metra electricians as they duck to avoid striking their heads against an overhead wire system pulsing with 1500 volts of electricity. They’re riding 14 feet above the train tracks on top of... Read more
(August 31, 2018) - You first hear the whistle, a throaty bellow like a tornado heard through a long pipe, and over the tops of trees, you see the trail of ash-grey smoke dissipating into the air. Soon the sheer black locomotive churns into view... Read more
(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

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