The Highliner is a bilevel Electric Multiple Unit railcar. The original series of railcars were built in 1971 by the St. Louis Car Company for commuter service on the Illinois Central Railroad, in south Chicago, Illinois, with an additional batch later produced by Bombardier. A second generation featuring a completely new design was produced by Nippon Sharyo beginning in 2005.

20160212 17 Last Run of Metra Electric Highliners (28668032122).jpg
A Highliner II on left and first-generation Highliner (now retired) on right at University Park.
In serviceHighliner: 1971-2016
Highliner II: 2005-present
ManufacturerHighliner: St. Louis Car Company, Bombardier
Highliner II: Nippon Sharyo
Family nameHighliner
Highliner II: Budd Gallery car
ConstructedHighliner: 1971, 1978-1979
Highliner II: 2005, 2012-2016
Number builtSt Louis: 130
Bombardier: 36
Nippon: 201+
Number preservedApprox. 24
Number scrappedMost First Generation cars scrapped, second generation cars still in service
Fleet numbers1201–1226, 1501–1663 (Metra)
301–314 (NICTD)
Operator(s)Illinois Central, Metra, NICTD
Line(s) servedMetra Electric, South Shore Line
Car body constructionHighliner: carbon steel
Highliner II : stainless steel
Car length85 feet (25.91 m)
Width10.5 feet (3.20 m)
Height15.83 feet (4.82 m) (to roof)
Floor height4.298 feet (1.31 m)
DoorsHighliner: 1 end vestibule, 2 center
Highliner II: 2 center
Maximum speed80 mph (130 km/h)
Weight140,000 lb (64,000 kg) (empty)
Traction motorsGeneral Electric DC Motor model 1258
Power output150 hp (110 kW) continuous, 160 hp (120 kW) maximum 1-hr rating per motor (4 per car)
Acceleration1.36 mph/s (2.19 km/(h⋅s))
Deceleration1.5 mph/s (2.4 km/(h⋅s))
Train heatingElectric heat, air conditioning
Electric system(s)1,500 V, DC Overhead lines
Current collection methodPantograph
BogiesHighliner: Outboard Bearing GSI 70
Braking system(s)Pneumatic, dynamic
Coupling systemTomlinson
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


In 1926, the Illinois Central's commuter rail lines were electrified, and began operating as the "IC Electric". For almost 40 years, the IC Electric continued to operate the original fleet of heavyweight cars, until the railroad decided that a more modern railcar was needed to resume commuter operations.[citation needed] The Chicago South Suburban Mass Transit District formed in 1967 in order to qualify for federal funding to purchase new equipment for the route. The original 130 car Highliner fleet had a cost of approximately $40 million; $26.6 million was funded by a federal grant, with remainder coming from the Illinois Central.[1] The railcars operated on electric catenary, and were more efficient than their heavyweight predecessors. A typical Highliner was able to seat 156 passengers, and run faster than the heavyweight fleet.

In 1976, the newly formed Regional Transportation Authority began to fund the IC Electric commuter service. In 1983, the RTA created Metra, Chicago's commuter rail service, and in 1987, Metra purchased the IC Electric line, forming the Metra Electric Line.

An additional batch of 36 Highliners was built from 1978 to 1979 by the Bombardier company. Starting in 2005, the aged original fleet, which was increasingly prone to breakage and experiencing soaring maintenance costs, began to be phased out. They were replaced by new Highliners built by Nippon Sharyo of Japan, the same company that is currently in charge of production of Metra's fleet of gallery cars. The last revenue run of the original Highliner cars was on February 12, 2016. Metra confirmed in a Facebook post that twenty-four cars are being sent to museums around the Midwestern United States, including the Illinois Railway Museum, while the other cars were sent to Mendota, Illinois to be scrapped.[2]

Highliner IIEdit

The Nippon Sharyo Highliners are similar in appearance to the passenger cars used on Metra's diesel lines. The South Shore Line electric railroad of Illinois and Indiana also purchased and operates the Highliner II to supplement its fleet of EMUs.[3]


Car Numbers Initial User Year built Builder
1227-1386 Metra 2012–2016 Nippon Sharyo
1201-1226 Metra 2005-2006 Nippon Sharyo
301-314 NICTD 2008-2009 Nippon Sharyo
1631-1666 RTA 1978-1979 Bombardier
1501-1630 Illinois Central 1971-1972 St. Louis


  1. ^ Houston, Jack (April 16, 1972). "Suburb Transit Districts Eye Public Funds". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Metra - Metra Train #117 operates past the 18th St station".
  3. ^ "MassTransitMag.com » Article » Indiana's South Shore Commuter Capacity Growing". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-04-25.

External linksEdit