CrossRail Chicago is our vision to create a dedicated passenger main line to and through Chicago by connecting Metra's Electric and North Central routes and upgrading them to modern standards.
It would be the foundation for local, express, and high-speed trains linking hundreds of stations to O'Hare, Downtown, and McCormick Place.
The entire route would be upgraded to modern standards with overhead electrification.
It would separate passenger trains from freight trains, providing fast, seamless travel on clean, quiet electric trains.
CrossRail will build a diverse, broad coalition for passenger-rail investment by unifying isolated (or even competing) constituencies around a single program.
CrossRail will serve people traveling between many different places and for many different reasons. Broadly, they can be simplified to three broad markets:
- Visitors traveling to or from Chicagoland
- People accessing O'Hare
- Frequent users within the metro-area
The majority of Chicago's visitors come from the Upper Midwest. And three-quarters of those people drive. Likewise, many Chicago-area residents leave the city by car.
CrossRail Chicago parallels the Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways, the Midwest's most congested highways. CrossRail's fast, frequent, and afforable trains will make these trips faster, safer, and more productive.
A recent study by the Federal Railroad Administration demonstrated that the Midwest can support a high-speed rail network that would add hundreds of trains a day to Chicago's already crowded terminal district.
CrossRail would add much-needed capacity for these trains and create a suburban station at O'Hare.
O'Hare International Airport is a unique asset for North America, with non-stop service to much of the world.
By allowing Metra, Amtrak, and high-speed trains to reach the airport, CrossRail Chicago will make it easier for businesses throughout the Midwest to reach their overseas customers and vendors.
And, the O'Hare railroad station can become the Northwest Suburban station for a high-speed rail network.
Cook County has some of the best employers in the country, but workers are often unable to reach these jobs in a reasonable amount of time. For neighborhoods that struggle with high unemployment, access to transportation means access to opportunity.
If paired with improvements to CTA and Pace buses, CrossRail Chicago would create affordable and convenient connections to the region's biggest employment centers.
In particular, CrossRail Chicago will offer an affordable and convenient way for Chicago Southside and South Suburban residents to reach the job-rich suburbs along the I-90 corridor.
CrossRail would let Metra serve many more people by offering frequent trains (every 10-15 minutes) throughout the day, with both all-stop local trains and limited-stop express service. These trains should have fare integration and timed connections with CTA and Pace buses.
Many cities around the world have already upgraded their commuter-rail networks to provide flexible, all-day service, often called Regional Rail. CalTrain in the Silicon Valley and Toronto's Go Transit are in the process of converting to Regional Rail.
Metra's routes to Antioch, Elgin, and Fox Lake will benefit from from the A-2 flyover and other improvements related to CrossRail, including being able to run express within Chicago.
The South Shore, which is in the midst of upgrading the Kensington - Michigan City segment to Regional Rail standards, will see faster speeds into Chicago and potential direct access to O'Hare.
Amtrak trains from southern Illinois and eastern states will see more reliable and faster access to Chicago and a new path to O'Hare.
The new electrified tracks will provide the critical access needed to get high-speed trains into the region.
Many pieces of CrossRail are already being planned by multiple agencies. A coordinated planning effort would yield better results more quickly. Here is a quick overview of the bigger components.
Chicago Union Station is the hub of North America's railway network and the continent's fifth-busiest railroad station. More people board trains at Union Station than airplanes at Midway Airport, making it a critical transportation asset.
CrossRail will add through tracks, high-level platforms, and set the stage for electrifying the whole facility.
Located two miles from Union Station at Western Avenue and Kinzie Street, A-2 is where Union Pacific-owned tracks from Ogilvie Transportation Center cross Metra-owned tracks from Union Station. It is one of the busiest and most complicated rail intersections in North America, with 350 trains crossing paths every day.
Learn More at: HSRail.org/MetraA2
O’Hare is the Midwest’s gateway to the world. It has more international destinations than all other airports in the Midwest combined.
CrossRail Chicago will build the tracks needed to get regional, Amtrak, and high-speed trains to the airport. A new station can be attached to the remote-parking garage. Ultimately, a new tunnel should be dug to a station directly under Terminal 2.
Metra's Electric and Rock Island routes are under-utilized assets that can be upgraded for faster speeds and more frequent trains—helping to separate passenger trains and freight trains.
The 16th Street Connector will use existing rights-of-way to provide a direct connection to Union Station from these routes.