Open main menu

The BNSF Railway Line is a Metra commuter rail line operated by the eponymous freight railroad in Chicago and its western suburbs. In 2010, the BNSF Railway Line continued to have the highest weekday ridership (average 64,600) of the 11 Metra lines.[2] While Metra does not refer to its lines by particular colors, the BNSF line's color on Metra timetables is "Cascade Green," a nod to the paint of the Burlington Northern Railroad.[3] In July 2017, the public timetable (published October 9, 2016)[4] showed 47 trains leaving Chicago each weekday, of which 31 run to Aurora. Of the 16 trains that do not reach Aurora, 5 terminate at Route 59, 1 at Naperville, 1 at Downers Grove-Main St., 5 at Fairview Avenue, 3 at Westmont, and 1 at Brookfield. The public timetable (published October 9, 2016)[4] also showed 47 trains arriving in Chicago each weekday, of which 29 start in Aurora. Of the 18 trains that do not start in Aurora, 6 start at Lisle, 1 at Downers Grove-Main St., 7 at Fairview Avenue, 1 at Highlands, and 3 at Brookfield.

BNSF Railway Line
Metra Train at Naperville.jpg
An inbound Metra train arrives in Naperville.
TypeCommuter Rail
TerminiUnion Station
Daily ridership65,300 (Avg. Weekday 2016)[1]
OwnerBNSF Railway (Leased to Metra)
Operator(s)BNSF Railway
Line length37.5 miles (60.4 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Route map

NCS to Antioch
MD-W to Big Timber Road
MD-N to Fox Lake
Union Station Amtrak
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
HC to Joliet
SWS to Manhattan
Halsted Street
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
Pinkto Loop
Western Avenue
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg
Pinkto 54th/Cermak
Morton Park
La Vergne
Harlem Avenue
Congress Park
La Grange Amtrak
Stone Avenue
Western Springs
West Hinsdale
Clarendon Hills
Fairview Avenue
Downers Grove Main Street
Saint Joseph Creek
DuPage River (East Branch)
Naperville Amtrak
DuPage River (West Branch)
Route 59
Amtrak to
Emeryville, Quincy,
& Los Angeles

The east end is Union Station in downtown Chicago. The line traverses Chicago and its western and far western suburbs to Aurora. BNSF Railway operates it under a "purchase of service agreement" with Metra, inherited from Burlington Northern. While Metra owns all rolling stock, the management and crews are BNSF employees. BNSF controls the right-of-way on the line and handles dispatching from corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The June 2007 timetable shows a 70 mph maximum allowed speed for passenger trains.

Metra has studied the feasibility of extending the line beyond Aurora, possibly as far as Plano, Illinois.[5]



BNSF Railway Line is in Cascade Green

The railroad between Chicago and Aurora was constructed in 1864 by the Chicago and Aurora Railroad, which evolved into the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The CB&Q operated the commuter service until the railroad merged into the Burlington Northern in 1970. Burlington Northern merged with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1995 to form the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. It later changed its name to the abbreviation, BNSF.

When the Regional Transportation Authority began subsidizing Chicago's commuter rail operations in 1974, Burlington Northern continued to operate its line under contract to the RTA. This arrangement continued when the RTA organized commuter rail under a service board that became Metra.

With fast and frequent Amtrak and Metra passenger trains, and BNSF freight trains, the three-track line is a favorite of rail fans, who sometimes call it the "race track."[6]

The Clyde station at South Austin Boulevard and West 29th Street in Cicero was closed on April 1, 2007 due to low ridership and its dilapidation. In the months before its closure, it was used by about 50 passengers a day.[7]


Annual ridership[8]
Year Annual ridership
2014 16,658,357
2015 16,400,290
2016 16,325,320
2017 16,235,817
2018 15,822,652
Average weekday ridership
Period Avg. weekday ridership
2008 63,400 [9]
July 2008–
June 2009
63,500 [10]
2010 64,600 [11]
July 2011–
June 2012
67,400 [12]
July 2015–
June 2016
65,300 [13]
July 2016–
June 2017
63,900 [14]
Average weekend ridership
Period Avg. weekend ridership
July 2011–
June 2012
24,600 [15]

Rolling stockEdit

The BNSF Railway's locomotive fleet consists mainly of the EMD F40PHM-2, with some EMD F40PH locomotives. Until 2012, MPI MP36PH-3S locomotives also operated on the line, however, they were all reassigned to the Milwaukee lines, the North Central Service and the Rock Island District due to operating difficulties. Rail cars include coaches from Budd, Morrison-Knudsen/Amerail, and Nippon Sharyo.


Zone Station Municipality County Notes
A Union Station Chicago Cook Connections:
  Metra trains: Milwaukee District / North, Milwaukee District/West, North Central Service, Heritage Corridor, and SouthWest Service
  Amtrak trains: California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, Illini and Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Lake Shore Limited, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, and Lincoln Service
  CTA "L" trains: Blue Line (at Clinton), Brown, Orange, Pink, and Purple Line Express (at Quincy)
  CTA buses: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, J14 Jeffery Jump, 19 United Center Express, 28 Stony Island, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 120 Ogilvie/Streeterville Express, 121 Union/Streeterville Express, 124 Navy Pier, 125 Water Tower Express, 126 Jackson, 128 Soldier Field Express, 130 Museum Campus, 151 Sheridan, 156 LaSalle, 157 Streeterville/Taylor, 192 University of Chicago Hospitals Express
  Pace buses: 755 Plainfield/IMD/West Loop Express
  Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach: Chicago-Madison and Chicago-Rockford (via Van Galder), Chicago-Louisville (via Greyhound)
Halsted Street Rush hour service only

  CTA buses: 8 Halsted, 18 16th/18th, and N62 Archer

Western Avenue Connections:
  CTA "L" trains: Pink Line (at Western)
  CTA buses: 18 16th/18th, 49 Western, and X49 Western Express
B Cicero Cicero Connections:
  CTA buses: 35 31st/35th, 54 Cicero, 54B South Cicero, and 60 Blue Island/26th
Morton Park Closed between 1938 and 1957
Clyde Closed April 1, 2007
LaVergne Berwyn Rush hour service only

  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley and 314 Ridgeland

Berwyn Connections:
  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley and 311 Oak Park Avenue
Harlem Avenue Connections:
  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley and 307 Harlem
C Riverside Riverside
Hollywood (Zoo Stop) Brookfield Points of interest:
Brookfield Zoo

  Pace buses: 304 Cicero - LaGrange and 331 Cumberland - 5th Avenue

Brookfield Connections:
  Pace buses: 331 Cumberland - 5th Avenue
Congress Park Rush hour service only

  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley and 331 Cumberland - 5th Avenue

La Grange La Grange Connections:
  Amtrak trains: Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg
  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley, 330 Mannheim - LaGrange Roads, and 331 Cumberland - 5th Avenue
Stone Avenue
D Western Springs Western Springs Connections:
  Pace buses: 669 Western Springs – Indian Head Park
Highlands Hinsdale DuPage Rush hour service only
Hinsdale Points of interest:
Downtown Hinsdale Historic District

  Pace buses: 668 Burr Ridge-Hinsdale

West Hinsdale Rush hour service only
Clarendon Hills Clarendon Hills Connections:
  Pace buses: 663 Darien-Clarendon Hills and 664 Willowbrook-Clarendon Hills
Westmont Westmont Connections:
  Pace buses: 662 South Central Westmont, 665 Darien–Westmont, and 715 Central DuPage
E Fairview Avenue Downers Grove
Downers Grove Main Street Connections:
  Pace buses: 461 North Downers Grove, 462 Southwest Downers Grove, 463 Southeast Downers Grove, and 834 Joliet/Downers Grove
Belmont Connections:
  Pace buses: 821 Woodridge-Belmont
  Grove Commuter Shuttle: West Route
Lisle Lisle Connections:
  Pace buses: 820 University Heights-Hobson Creek-Lisle, 825 Central Bolingbrook-Lisle, 826 South Lisle, 827 Green Trails-Steeple Run, 828 North Lisle, and 829 Lisle-Naperville Office Corridor
F Naperville Naperville Connections:
  Amtrak trains: Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, California Zephyr, and Southwest Chief
  Pace buses: 530 West Galena/Naperville, 676 Cress Creek, 677 Naperville–West Glens, 678 Naperville–Carriage Hill, 680 Naperville–Knoch Knolls, 681 Naperville–Saybrook, 682 Naperville–Brookdale, 683 Naperville–Ashbury, 684 Naperville–Maplebrook, 685 Naperville–West Wind Estates, 686 Naperville–Old Farm, 687 Naperville–Farmstead, 688 Naperville–Huntington, 689 Naperville–Hobson Village, 714 College of DuPage–Naperville–Wheaton Connector, and 722 Ogden Avenue
  Burlington Trailways: Chicago–Davenport
G Route 59 Aurora Connections:
  Pace buses: 534 Fox Valley Villages/Route 59 Metra Station, 559 Illinois Route 59, 672 95th St. Park & Ride/Route 59 Metra Direct, 673 Community Christian Park-n-Ride/Route 59 Metra Direct, and 675 Wheatland Salem Park-n-Ride/Route 59 Metra Direct
  Greyhound Lines: Chicago–Davenport
N/A Eola Eola Closed to passengers prior to 1971, closed entirely later
H Aurora Transportation Center Aurora Kane Connections:
  Pace buses: 524 West Aurora, 530 West Galena/Naperville, 533 Northeast Aurora, 540 Farnsworth Avenue, and 802 Aurora/Geneva via Lake


  1. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "Ridership Reports -System Facts". Metra. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  3. ^ "Did you know?" (PDF). On the Bi-Level: 3. June 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 2, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "BNSF Railway Full Timetable" (PDF). Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  5. ^ "A step closer on local Metra station". Oswego Ledger-Sentinel. March 12, 2009. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Mann, Leslie (March 23, 2011). "When that lonesome whistle blows, rail fans know where to line up". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  7. ^ Ruzich, Joseph (February 21, 2007). "Cicero's Metra stop to receive makeover". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  8. ^ "RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANNUAL REPORT 2018" (PDF). Metra. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  10. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  11. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  12. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  13. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Archived from the original on March 20, 2017.
  14. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data". Metra. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "Operations and Ridership Data" (PDF). Metra. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2019.

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata