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Metra Electric Highliners

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The old Metra Electric Highliners are parked at the Rock Island Shops at 51st street, looks to be about 15-20.

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You know for all the new Highliners out there, I still haven't ridden one of the Metra Electric ones. I've only ridden in the 1970s Highliners from the IC days in my last two trips out to Chicago (this last week for my sister's graduation, and also last October).

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You know for all the new Highliners out there, I still haven't ridden one of the Metra Electric ones. I've only ridden in the 1970s Highliners from the IC days in my last two trips out to Chicago (this last week for my sister's graduation, and also last October).

There are still a bunch of the old ones out. It will take about two more years at least before all of the old Highliners are gone. I think the delivery rate of new cars will average 1 new car per week.

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You know for all the new Highliners out there, I still haven't ridden one of the Metra Electric ones. I've only ridden in the 1970s Highliners from the IC days in my last two trips out to Chicago (this last week for my sister's graduation, and also last October).

I'm glad this subject came up. I have ridden on the 1200 series Highliners that were purchased around 2005. And that was by sheer coincidence because there were only 26 of those cars. So, the chances of catching one of them was pretty slim. However, beginning in mid/late October of 2012, Metra received the first of a 160 car order of Highliner electrics. But strangely, I keep hearing about the old St Louis Car Co Highliners from the 1970s being sidelined for retirement/scrap at the Rock Island shops and other locations. But it seems hard to find pictures or YouTube videos featuring the new-est incoming equipment. I'm really curious to know how many of the newest cars are in operation for IC Metra. I'm planning on visiting Chicago in mid-July. So, I know I'll get plenty of chances to ride the 5000s on the L. But I'm also looking forward to a ride on the newest of the new Highliner electrics.

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The newer Highliners tend to run during Rush Hours on the Express Zone runs (Homewood, UP Zones). Outside of rush hours tend to be a crapshoot (but are just limited to the Main Line).

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The newer Highliners tend to run during Rush Hours on the Express Zone runs (Homewood, UP Zones). Outside of rush hours tend to be a crapshoot (but are just limited to the Main Line).

Thanks for the "heads up"!! Since I'll be staying in Matteson, IL (211th St/Lincoln Hwy), maybe I'll get fortunate and get a Matteson-Richton Express during the evening rush.

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Right now we are up to 1258, which would mean 32 of the newest cars. The majority end up at 18th street during the day and stay in 6 car consists. However there are a couple that get broken up in the morning (depending on the yardmaster at Randolph St) and used on the main line and Blue Island trains. It has been the norm lately that the 9:15 Blue Island train will be 2 cars and the following 9:30 University Park be a 4 car consist of new equipment. Like I said, it depends on the yardmaster. One of them, for whatever reason refuses to put them out when he is working, so don't expect to see too many on a Saturday morning, for example. Honestly, they are nothing special. Due to the ADA layout and larger bathroom, they have 18 less seats per car. 1201-1226 (the originals) ride very hard because the airbags had to be deflated after arrival because they were too tall and the pantographs kept getting tangled in the wires, primarily on South Chicago trains. The latest series do ride smoother, so there has been some type of adjustment. There are a number of operation issues which, unless you are an engineer, are a royal pain. As a conductor, they are okay, since there are less seats per car, although everyone wants to make everything a 4 seat situation by flipping seats, which you always have to do. As a passenger, I hate them and the 6000 series diesel line cars. 1st because they have 18 less seats per car, which can lead to major crowding during rush hour. The seats are hard and uncomfortable, the lights are too bright and the windows are too big. I guess you'll have to find out and judge for yourself, but they are not overly well liked by passenger and crews alike.

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I actually LIKE the 6000s,,7400s,, and the 8400s cab cars and the 1200s on the ME. I think the best Highliner cars are the ones on the South Shore. Though I love the big windows, I prefer the gray tint the NICTD cars have as opposed to the Green tint on Metra's cars. Since the IC (now ME) was the commuter line I rode the most , I came to appreciate the seats and the seating arrangements on the ME and the South Shore. I am not a big fan of the reversible seats that are standard on Metra's diesel cars and the 1200s. I'm glad the SS didn't follow that pattern when they received their Highliners. Trainman stated that ME riders weren't overly thrilled with the new cars, but I think they would be a happier bunch if they had cars like the SS,, end car trap doors notwithstanding. The only drawback to the Highliner electrics would be the sound of the electric motor when taking off or just before a complete stop. The St Louis cars never had that noise, but its common on all the 1200s,, all of South Shore trains, and now the CTA 5000 series cars. Once the train gains a good speed, the noise either disappears or is pitched so high it is not able to be heard by human ears.

It took me a long time to adjust to the disels. I always thought thise cars looked funny because I was so used to the high center doors for high platform boardings on the ME and the SS

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1201-1226 (the originals) ride very hard because the airbags had to be deflated after arrival because they were too tall and the pantographs kept getting tangled in the wires, primarily on South Chicago trains.

They have air bags? Did not know that!

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A couple of quick points:

  • The big windows were supposedly a federal requirement after the MARC train crash, to help extracting passengers.
  • Supposedly the bathrooms were to be in only half the cars. Didin't it turn out that way?

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Right now we are up to 1258, which would mean 32 of the newest cars. The majority end up at 18th street during the day and stay in 6 car consists. However there are a couple that get broken up in the morning (depending on the yardmaster at Randolph St) and used on the main line and Blue Island trains. It has been the norm lately that the 9:15 Blue Island train will be 2 cars and the following 9:30 University Park be a 4 car consist of new equipment. Like I said, it depends on the yardmaster. One of them, for whatever reason refuses to put them out when he is working, so don't expect to see too many on a Saturday morning, for example. Honestly, they are nothing special. Due to the ADA layout and larger bathroom, they have 18 less seats per car. 1201-1226 (the originals) ride very hard because the airbags had to be deflated after arrival because they were too tall and the pantographs kept getting tangled in the wires, primarily on South Chicago trains. The latest series do ride smoother, so there has been some type of adjustment. There are a number of operation issues which, unless you are an engineer, are a royal pain. As a conductor, they are okay, since there are less seats per car, although everyone wants to make everything a 4 seat situation by flipping seats, which you always have to do. As a passenger, I hate them and the 6000 series diesel line cars. 1st because they have 18 less seats per car, which can lead to major crowding during rush hour. The seats are hard and uncomfortable, the lights are too bright and the windows are too big. I guess you'll have to find out and judge for yourself, but they are not overly well liked by passenger and crews alike.

Thanks for the in depth description! One thing is for sure: "New" is "good" most of the time. But "new" is never "perfect" any of the time. The newest incoming ME commuter cars and the Bombardier 5000 series are proof-positive of that. And I would venture to say that the arrival of the CTA 7000 series a few years from now won't be much different. Speaking of the newest incoming ME 1200 seriers, I remember reading about six weeks ago that at least a few of these cars were coming off the assembly line with inadequate lubrication in the axle gearboxes - a sure recipe for potential derailment as the wheels could possibly lock up, if I remember correctly.

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A couple of quick points:

  • The big windows were supposedly a federal requirement after the MARC train crash, to help extracting passengers.
  • Supposedly the bathrooms were to be in only half the cars. Didin't it turn out that way?

I realize that with the windows...they still suck.

Bathrooms are in the odd number cars only.

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I realize that with the windows...they still suck.

Bathrooms are in the odd number cars only.

If you don't mind me asking - what is it that you don't like about the large windows?

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If you don't mind me asking - what is it that you don't like about the large windows?

Strictly from a passenger standpoint, I like to rest my arms on the bottom of the window.

With the big windows, it is impossible to do, since I would be bent in two. From a conductor

standpoint, doesn't make too much of a difference.

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As long as there's griping about the 6000 series diesel line cars, I will add a few thoughts:

Temperature. Seems they are never warm enough in the winter, often not cool enough in the summer. The old Budd and P-S cars seem to be warmer in the winter, and more often than not, cooler in the summer.

I agree with trainman's observation on the bottom of the windows, I have the same problem.

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Right now we are up to 1258, which would mean 32 of the newest cars. The majority end up at 18th street during the day and stay in 6 car consists. However there are a couple that get broken up in the morning (depending on the yardmaster at Randolph St) and used on the main line and Blue Island trains. It has been the norm lately that the 9:15 Blue Island train will be 2 cars and the following 9:30 University Park be a 4 car consist of new equipment. Like I said, it depends on the yardmaster. One of them, for whatever reason refuses to put them out when he is working, so don't expect to see too many on a Saturday morning, for example. Honestly, they are nothing special. Due to the ADA layout and larger bathroom, they have 18 less seats per car. 1201-1226 (the originals) ride very hard because the airbags had to be deflated after arrival because they were too tall and the pantographs kept getting tangled in the wires, primarily on South Chicago trains. The latest series do ride smoother, so there has been some type of adjustment. There are a number of operation issues which, unless you are an engineer, are a royal pain. As a conductor, they are okay, since there are less seats per car, although everyone wants to make everything a 4 seat situation by flipping seats, which you always have to do. As a passenger, I hate them and the 6000 series diesel line cars. 1st because they have 18 less seats per car, which can lead to major crowding during rush hour. The seats are hard and uncomfortable, the lights are too bright and the windows are too big. I guess you'll have to find out and judge for yourself, but they are not overly well liked by passenger and crews alike.

Well this past week during my visit to Chicago, I did get a chance to ride the newest 1200 series MEs both to and from downtown. They're nice. But I like the old highliners better and will miss them when they're gone.

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Well this past week during my visit to Chicago, I did get a chance to ride the newest 1200 series MEs both to and from downtown. They're nice. But I like the old highliners better and will miss them when they're gone.

Well this past week during my visit to Chicago, I did get a chance to ride the newest 1200 series MEs both to and from downtown. They're nice. But I like the old highliners better and will miss them when they're gone.

I have to agree, I don't care much of the new 1200s but I do like them though but I don't like the upper lever seating arrangements on the 1200s that are much like CTA Rail 5000s. 1200s got less seating on the upper lever than 1500s. I like old High liners period. I like the Chime engine sound on the outside of them, especially when their A/C is on. I really going to miss them much myself.

My Grandfather, an Retired Veteran/ CTA Rail Mechanic had a house he lived at for over 50 years @ Grand Crossing Area on S. Dorchester/ E. 68th St where my Father grew up as his childhood at in front of the CN/ Electric line, I remember always seeing 1500s with old brown/ orange scheme on them. From my Grandfather's House from the upper level I can see the South Chicago line goes up or down into the tunnel.

I'm just glad for now that I still see mostly Old 1500s out at Evenings, most time of the day. It's going to bring me down tears when they're gone as much I felt with CTA Budd 2200s which they're nearly same age (1-2 years apart).

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I have to agree, I don't care much of the new 1200s but I do like them though but I don't like the upper lever seating arrangements on the 1200s that are much like CTA Rail 5000s. 1200s got much less seating on the upper lever than 1500s....

The problem is that the roof has to be lowered to give the pantograph enough clearance. On the 40 year old cars, that was over the cab and vestibule. However, on the newer ones, that is at the back of the car, and hence cuts down on headroom on the second level. That has to be at the back of the car, because the engineer's cab is on the second level, as is the case with the cab trailers on the diesel lines.

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The problem is that the roof has to be lowered to give the pantograph enough clearance. On the 40 year old cars, that was over the cab and vestibule. However, on the newer ones, that is at the back of the car, and hence cuts down on headroom on the second level. That has to be at the back of the car, because the engineer's cab is on the second level, as is the case with the cab trailers on the diesel lines.

The second level seating is really about the same. The difference in the number of seats comes in the cars with the bathrooms and also the ADA. The extra sidewinder seats on the upper level actually started on the 6000/8500 series cars on the diesel lines and have 6 less forward/backward flips in each 1/2 car

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The second level seating is really about the same. The difference in the number of seats comes in the cars with the bathrooms and also the ADA. The extra sidewinder seats on the upper level actually started on the 6000/8500 series cars on the diesel lines and have 6 less forward/backward flips in each 1/2 car

Being on the diesel lines, I assumed a certain number of longitudinal seats upstairs. I suppose qwantae didn't. The question now is whether there are fewer seats in the back compartment than the front, or just less headroom.

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Having ridden both the diesels and the electrics, I have to agree with Busjack that you lose some upper level seating with the pantographs being at the rear (or noncab) end of each car. Obviously due to ADA and the washrooms, there is less seating on the newer cars compared to the older ones, but there is even less on the electric Highliners due to the pantographs. Next time I ride a South Shore Highliner, I have to pay close attention to the upper level seating. On the lower level , you lose a few more seats on the ends of the cars due to the doors for low level platform boarding and alighting.

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My Grandfather, an Retired Veteran/ CTA Rail Mechanic had a house he lived at for over 50 years @ Grand Crossing Area on S. Dorchester/ E. 68th St where my Father grew up as his childhood at in front of the CN/ Electric line, I remember always seeing 1500s with old brown/ orange scheme on them. From my Grandfather's House from the upper level I can see the South Chicago line goes up or down into the tunnel.

I'm just glad for now that I still see mostly Old 1500s out at Evenings, most time of the day. It's going to bring me down tears when they're gone as much I felt with CTA Budd 2200s which they're nearly same age (1-2 years apart).

These cars take me back to my young adult years in the mid seventies when I worked at Traveler's Aid Society on La Salle and Van Buren streets. I frequently took to Blue Island local from 75th and South Chicago to Michigan Ave and Van Buren to get to work. With the retirement of the 2200s and the soon-to-be retirement of the 2400s, it's like pieces of my youth are quickly disappearing. :(

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