Freeport Subdivision

The Freeport Subdivision is a railroad line in Illinois which runs from 16th Street in downtown Chicago to Freeport, Illinois. It is owned and operated by the Canadian National Railway (CN). As of 2016 the line is almost exclusively freight-only, with only a small segment within Chicago, between 21st Street in Chinatown and Ashland Avenue in Bridgeport, hosting Amtrak and Metra passenger trains.

Freeport Subdivision
Freeport Sub from Berwyn.jpg
The Freeport Subdivision as seen from Berwyn, IL
TypeFreight rail
Opened1891 (1891)
OwnerCanadian National Railway
Line length113.5 mi (182.7 km)
Number of tracks1-2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed50 mph (80 km/h)
Route map

Chicago Subdivision
Orange Line
to the Chicago Loop
Bridgeport Yard
Chicago River
Orange Line
to Midway Pictograms-nps-airport.svg
Joliet Subdivision
to Joliet
Crawford Yard
Hawthorne Yard
Hawthorne Industry Lead
Scheck Lumber
Union Pacific / West Line
to Chicago
Union Pacific / West Line
to Elburn
Major Prime Plastics
Belvidere Subdivision
to West Chicago
Belvidere Subdivision
to Rockford
Canadian Pacific Railway
to Chicago
Canadian Pacific Railway
to Savanna
Belvidere Subdivision
to South Elgin
Illinois Railway
Rockford Branch
Dubuque Subdivision
to Dubuque

The line is 113.5 miles (182.7 km) long. At its east end it joins with the St. Charles Air Line and the Chicago Subdivision in Chicago's South Loop. From there to the interchange with the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad in Broadview, Illinois, it is double-tracked and CTC-controlled. From Broadview to Freeport, Illinois, it is single-tracked and track warrants are used. The maximum speed over the line is 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).[1] The section between 16th Street and 21st Street mostly handles traffic between CN's Chicago yards; Amtrak trains such as the City of New Orleans also use it when the St. Charles Air Line is out of service.[2]

The Illinois Central Railroad opened its line between Chicago and Freeport in 1891, giving it a direct route between Chicago and Iowa. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, successor to the Illinois Central, sold the line between Hawthorne Yard in Cicero, Illinois, and Freeport (and on to Iowa) in 1985 to the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad. CN, which had acquired the Illinois Central Gulf in the interim, reacquired the route in 1996.[3]

The Illinois Central operated passenger trains on the subdivision until the startup of Amtrak on May 1, 1971; Amtrak did not retain the Chicago–Sioux City, Iowa, Hawkeye.[4] Passenger service returned on February 14, 1974, with the introduction of the Black Hawk between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa.[5] This service ended on September 30, 1981.[6]


  1. ^ "Illinois State Rail Plan 2012" (PDF). Illinois Department of Transportation. 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  2. ^ "Chicago–Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program: Tier 1 DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement" (PDF). September 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Downey 2007, p. 91
  4. ^ Sanders 2006, pp. 241–242
  5. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 245
  6. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 249


External linksEdit