Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com


Getting 9 out of 21 Stations on the 5-10 Minutes late Metra BNSF Railway from Berwyn to Aurora

This is the part 2 (of 3) of February 17th, 2018s adventures.

After getting off Pace Bus 307 I get my photo essay of Harlem Avenue(19 Photos). I then start walking briskly down Windsor Avenue to Berwyn(30 Photos). There I get my pictures and head to the shelter on the outbound platform. A man is sitting there waiting for the train who talks to me and says on weekends the train is late as he expects. The train finally arrives about 5 minutes late as we see it’s lights in the distance though the Cicero Yard. I start thinking I’m going to plan my trip around spending an hour and 10 minutes in Aurora instead of just ten minutes before my a PACE bus up to Geneva.


I board and hand the conductor one of my ATM fresh twenties, getting a ten back and my weekend ticket.

From here, I’ve identified a stretch of 7 stations I can photograph with doubling back and some walking (there a few weekday/rush hour only stations that are quite close to stations served by most non-express trains) under the Saturday morning schedule. This is due to the fact that Outbound trains run every 2 hours in the AM, while Inbound trains run hourly, before reversing the pattern for most of the PM.

I take this train to Westmont-(22 Photos)

Since my train has arrived late I quickly walk to Fairview Avenue(25 Photos), getting there just a few minutes before the scheduled 9:47am Inbound train, as I do my photo essay, the train is running 5-10 minutes, followed by 15-20 minutes late announcements begin. I debate walking to Main St./Downers Grove but don’t feel like getting stuck there (it’s a bit of a ways from there to the next stop). The Inbound train finally arrives 15 minutes late.


From there I take the Inbound train 2 stops (getting a special BNSF Railway property seat check) to Clarendon Hills(37 Photos)


From there it’s a short walk to West Hinsdale(29 Photos) since the station’s are almost connected by the commuter parking spaces on Burlington Avenue.

This station only receives weekday rush hour service (no inbound trains after 8:56am) so I keep walking to Hinsdale(26 Photos), the main station for this village, which is crowded with people waiting to go inbound.

There I have a decision to make, do I wait for the next (presumed late inbound train) and get Western Springs? or walk to and from the next rush hour only station, Highlands? and possibly miss Western Springs (since I know I’ll make it back in time for it). I decide to take my chances and walk to Highlands(23 Photos)

I get back to Hinsdale  to a crowd still waiting for the next (late) Inbound train. A gentleman sees my camera and says “Hello fellow train nerd” before saying something unintelligible about headphones. The 12:55 Inbound train arrives early enough (about 5 minutes late) that I’m not worried about doubling-back and missing my outbound train.

I take this one station stop (skipping Highlands) to Western Springs(31 Photos), there I realize I’m a few minutes before the scheduled arrival time of the next Outbound train but still start my photo essay with the train still in the station and cross to the outbound platform as soon as I can. The next scheduled 1:11 Outbound train comes in about 5 minutes late again.


At this point it’s 1:15, and the train I’m sitting on is scheduled to arrive in Aurora at 2:01, over an hour before my 3:10 bus up to Geneva. I’m planning to stay on this train and spend an hour eating lunch in Aurora, but a quick look at Google maps shows few lunch options near the station. I then look at the bottom of the schedule and notice that there’s about 10 minutes of padding (Outbound train’s have a 19 minute run time Route 59 to Aurora, but inbound train’s are scheduled for just 8 minutes from Aurora to Route 59). So I examine Google maps for a place for lunch and plan to get off early and get another station.

Lisle(66 Photos), provides the closest downtown on the outer BNSF Railway line stations that are further apart and where walking between stations is infeasible.

There I walk the couple-blocks to Main Street and find an odd mishmash crepe/pizza place where I have both a decent savory crepe and a slice of pizza.

I then head back to the ‘Lisle Commuter Center’ where it starts snowing. As I wait the Emeryville-bound California Zephyr #5, followed immediately by the Chicago-bound Southwest Chief #4, passes (I can see the trains pass each other off in the distance), both running basically on time. My Outbound Metra train arrives basically on time at 2:31, as I breath a sigh of relief that my bus adventure to Geneva (and Union Pacific West Line) will work!


This train arrives at the Aurora Transportation Center(23 Photos) as it starts to really snow at 2:50, 10 minutes early as I predict. I get some photos (will like to return at some point when it isn’t snowing) before boarding Pace bus Route 802 at 3:03 since it’s already waiting.

Riding the Green Line out to Oak Park to start a Metra Adventure

This is part 1 of what will be a 3 part series on my February 17th Metra adventures.

This past weekend, Louise and I spent in Chicago so Louise could go to a one-day conference on Saturday. I decided to spend the day doing another Metra Weekend Pass adventure. Looking at schedules I realized that the BNSF Line (except for Metra Electric, which seems silly to do when not combined with the South Shore Line) seemed like the obvious route to do since it has the most Saturday service of the diesel lines. I also looked at the Pace map and schedule and found that Pace Bus Route 802 could take me for Aurora up to the Geneva Station on the UP West Line, letting me get a few stations on this line as well (with minimal layovers) and letting me ride a second Metra route on my way back to Chicago.

Saturday morning came and we were not quite early enough waking up and getting breakfast in our hotel for me to make it down to Union Station to catch the 8:40 train (which would have let me make a few quick stops due to an inbound express train) so instead I left the hotel around 9:00, heading to the CTA, to connect to the BNSF line in the inner suburbs via a CTA to Pace Transfer.

Walking past the Grand(2 Photos) stop and seeing a soon to arrive train on the countdown clocks I decide to get on the ‘L’ here, reloading my Vetra card with enough money for today’s ‘L’ and pace rides.

I take the Red Line one stop to Lake(3 Photos)


There I follow the signs to Lake Street and the Loop ‘L’ taking advantage of the free transfer with my Ventra Card. I notice on the countdown clocks at street level the next Harlem/Lake Green Line isn’t due for 10 minutes so I enter State/Lake(8 Photos) on the Inner Loop and take an Orange Line train.


I take the Orange Line train one stop to the new Washington/Wabash Station(1 Photo), passing through the former area of the Randolph/Wabash station where I couldn’t notice any evidence of the former station from my train. I can see the Green Line approaching going the other direction (with the countdown clocks saying there isn’t a train more than 10 minutes) so I quickly use the underpass, and my attempted photos all except for one as I wait for the Green Line train to open it’s doors are too blurry to share.

I then get on the Green Line and ride it all the way out to it’s terminus at Harlem/Lake(23 Photos) in Oak Park, a station that I didn’t have enough photos of to write a summary for when I made the initial page. I start by getting off the ‘L’, getting some platform photos and exiting into the Marion Street station house.


The Marion Street Station house is shared with the Metra Oak Park(42 Photos) From there I use the ramps to begin my photo essay of the interesting station with a bare island platform and unique side platform with a clock tower, second waiting area, and odd old wooden shelter.


I eventually walk back to wait outside the unique 1960s Harlem Station house to wait for Pace Bus 307, which is scheduled for 10:05 but arrives a couple minutes late. I scan my Ventra Card at 10:07, paying 30 cents for the transfer.

From there it’s a ride down Harlem Avenue, where we suffer a 5 minutes delay waiting for a freight train to pass on a different (freight only) rail line.

Then I get off in front of Bank of America at Burlington Street, where I stop to get some cash to buy my weekend pass from the conductor and begin my BNSF and Metra adventure with a photo essay of Harlem Ave(19 Photos).

Here is a screenshot of the Ventra app showing my reload and three taps and charges for the trip out from Downtown to Berwyn.

Continuing reading as I board my BNSF Railway Train out to Aurora.

A few more Chicago Northside Metra Stations

I’m trying to get all the Metra Stations I’ve photographed out of my archive. In this update are four stations on Chicago’s Northside, within city limits.

On the UP North Line:

On the UP Northwest Line:

Finally, on the Milwaukee North Line:


A Drive through the Desert with a stop in Yuma

Christmas I spent with Louise’s family in the Mountains outside of San Diego. After consulting flights the Mesa non-stop made the most sense for me to fly out midday on Friday. Louise and her Dad flew to Phoenix the weekend before (I drove them and made some Metra stops), driving through the desert we made one stop in Yuma(26 Photos) at the unique Amtrak platform in front of a station that burned down.



Driving Back from O’Hare with a few Metra Station Stops

I’m having a quiet snowy New Years Eve home in South Bend, so I might as well make another website update.

Two weeks ago today (December 17) I went with Louise and her Dad to O’Hare to drop them off. Then I drove home, making a few Metra stops, with a goal of getting my final two missing Milwaukee West Line Stations in particular.

I leave the main airport parking garage and don’t manage to merge from the very left lane to the very right lane fast enough to get to the Mannheim Road exit. Instead I get off at the next exit that doesn’t lead to a tollway at River Road. I decide to skip Rosemont on the North Central Service since it’s a weekend and I believe all platform access is through an enclosed staircase from an overpass which I predict to be locked. I drive farther south and make a first stop at Shriller Park(25 Photos) on the edge of an intermodal yard and beneath an O’Hare runway flight path.


I continue driving south to my next stop of Mannheim(13 Photos), a very limited service stop on the Milwaukee West Line, with only weekday service. So no round-trip bike ride from Franklin Park will be required to finish these stations.

It’s another short drive down Pacific Avenue to the main Franklin Park(34 Photos) Station on the Milwaukee West Line, where I also visit Tower B-12 now relocated to a park across from the station. It’s the name of the junction between the Milwaukee West Line and North Central Service.


I consider walking but my camera battery dies, so I drive over, charging my camera in my cars outlet over to the much newer Belmont Ave./Franklin Park(26 Photos) on the North Central Service. This station is set back from the grade-crossing between industrial buildings, and has a strange futuristic station house.

I continue driving south on local streets (which takes about 20 minutes) to the Union Pacific West Line, where I make stops at Melrose Park(17 Photos) and Maywood(13 Photos), and enjoy Maywood’s brand new, opened in June waiting room.


I try to drive to River Forest as a final stop to finish this adventure but road work forces me to turn right instead of left so I decide to call it day.

The drive home feels long and makes real realize I’ll avoid driving (I’ll gladly take the Blue Line) on the Eisenhower Expressway in the future since my entrance to it is via an unmarked suicide on-ramp. I actually go west on the Eisenhower a few miles out to the I-294, the Tri-State Tollway to avoid driving through downtown Chicago. I stay straight on this as I-80 and I-94 join it, and stay on I-94 (deciding not to take the Indiana Toll Road) to Michigan City where I get off and take the four-lane US-20, that becomes Indiana Route 2 and Western Avenue home. Taking these roads home from ‘free’ I-94 generally takes the same amount of time as the toll road and saves more than $3 in tools since the Indiana Toll Road abolished EZ-Pass discounts in June.

A Snowy South Shore Line Round-trip to Gary to try and listen to the Rail Rangers

This New Years Weekend, I’m spending alone in cold and snowy South Bend. Louise is still in warm Southern California (I have in my queue a post about this trip with a visit to a unique Amtrak Station) where I was last weekend and will be returning to next weekend. The weather right now has been frigid in South Bend with the highs not getting above the teens all week, along with some super cold snow virtually every day.

Today I decide it is time for a little train therapy. The goal, to see what the APHRF Rail Rangers Trails and Rails-like program on the South Shore Line is like. This program has been operating Saturdays out of  Chicago (on the 8:40AM outbound train, returning on the 1:05pm train) for the past six months. I examine the schedules and realize that turning around in Gary aligned with the South Shore schedule perfectly, and I can even ride the Gary PTC Route 12 and get both Gary Metro Center and Gary/Chicago Airport, Clark Road Stations on the same trip with short enough layovers that catching hypothermia seems unlikely.

The trip starts by brushing off and driving Louse’s car (which I’m borrowing while she’s away) to the South Bend Airport(4 Photos). There I parked in the snowy $1 Daily parking lot and pay my $1 fee with a $1 bill to the pay box.


I then head inside to purchase my very expensive (relatively speaking) ticket to Gary Metro Center for $10.50 (a ticket all the way to Downtown Chicago is $13.50), since the South Shore Line makes stopovers expensive (Chicago to Gary is $7.00, although only covering about a third of the distance as from Chicago to South Bend). From there I board the train.

I find a very crowded Rail Rangers Car where I can’t conveniently sit near the two Ranges in black uniforms.

As the train leaves South Bend the rangers begin their program. Just one set of folks, a group moved from the set of four seats across the lavatory from the Rangers, to a different car. I sit down there. No one else moves and throughout the journey people were speaking loudly and not giving the presenters the respect I feel they deserved. I think this is the downside to a crowded New Years Eve-weekend train. The Rangers have a wireless microphone using what is clearly a portable speaker system. The audio cuts in and out, so I don’t fully get to enjoy their commentary. The program starts with them handing out a one-page handout (I think I’m going to purchase their detailed book next time I ride a train with them aboard) about the South Shore Line. What I could hear of the program I found similar to other volunteer ranger programs I’ve attended on Amtrak trains. Unfortunately the crowds on the train made it hard to enjoy. The script they have seems informative and well-written.

By Dune Park the train has gotten so crowded that I’m doubling-up at my set of four seats. I also noticed the Rangers doubling up (they were originally sitting across from each other at a set of four seats). As we get further west the train stopped blowing snow (for awhile after departing South Bend there was virtually no visibility because of blowing snow) and the amount of snow on the ground clearly is less.

I am happy to get off the very crowded train at Gary Metro Center(54 Photos) where I do a full photo essay. The station feels fairly overbuilt with a long ramp providing fully enclosed albeit inconvenient access to the Gary Metro Center Transit Center, which is Gary PTCs hub. The signage in the station is extremely poor for Gary PTC bus bays which is not unexpected since Gary PTC has one of the oldest looking websites imaginable.


I do enjoy views across the Indiana Toll Road to the top of the ex-New York Central station which I’ve passed on the Lake Shore Limited.

I also go for a little walk across to Gateway Park to see steam Locomotive #765, and the Gary Land Company Building, the first permanent structure in the City of Gary.


I took my time, deciding a full photo essay of the Gary Metro Center Station was more important than catching the 2:04pm Route 12 Lakeshore Connector Bus. On my walk I photograph the bus pull into the Metro Center for it’s layover. There is no signage on which bus bay to board the bus at but I luckily find the bus at 2:03 , board, paying my $1.60 fare, since I’m traveling locally in Gary, (the fare to East Chicago is $2.25). All the other passengers have already boarded (I motion to the driver to open the doors) and the bus soon leaves.


I get off the bus about a block away from the station on Clark Road since another rider is getting on the bus there and I have plenty of time.

I walk down to the Gary/Chicago Airport (at Clark Road) Station(40 Photos) where the platform is nicely plowed and salted.


I try to buy a ticket at the TVMs but they don’t seem to like my credit card so I use the mobile app instead.

My train return train arrives basically on time, on the outside track. There is a bit of commotion as the train pulls into the station with the engineer overshooting the short boarding platform. The train backs up surprisingly quickly and a few people get off as I get on.


I board a nice empty train and am happy to see that the seat with an electrical outlet is free so I snag that to start typing up summaries of the two new stations I’ve just visited. The ride is largely uneventful until we get just beyond Beverly Shores. There they announce another passenger train is having air hose problems as we come to a stop. Eventually we cross the Amtrak line and begin street running in Michigan City.


We stop at 11th Street 5 minutes late at 3:30, where I notice a new overflow parking lot (with a new sign) on the north side of the tracks.

We finally get to Carroll Avenue at 3:43 and take another time hit, with the station work taking longer than it should. There is a large crowd waiting for the 3:40 inbound train on the platform which we seem to delay.

As we continue towards Hudson Lake we lose some more time I think primarily due to the snow, which picks up the further east towards South Bend we go.

The train crew distributes a survey the South Bend Airport is doing of train riders to see if anyone is takes the South Shore to take flights from the Airport (or is spending money at the airport). The reason is because NIMBY-ism has prevailed on the Airport Relocation project (relocating the South Shore Line to the opposite side of the airport, saving 10 to 15 minutes in travel time on the current airport merry-go-round slow tracks) because it will take away a few homes in the unincorporated community of Ardmore. So the project is delayed again with further studies.

We finally arrive in South Bend(12 Photos) at 5:26, 20 minutes late. Getting off the train is a bit chaotic primarily because of passengers already trying to get on for the 5:45pm trip back to Chicago (Train #508). I get some nice dusk in the snow photos as I get off.


I get to the car and see it hasn’t snowed anymore, the long term parking lot is behind me so those cars might have been parked for days.

I drive home and find these service advisories on the South Shore Website. It looks like there busing everyone from South Bend to Carroll Avenue on New Years Day 2018 because of the cold and forecasted snow. The delay of my train has also caused cascading delays further this evening.


Upload: Metra Milwaukee West through Mars

It’s been a busy December but this bitterly cold New Years Weekend I’m alone in South Bend so I’m hoping to get lots of website updates (focus in on Metra with a little Amtrak thrown in), since going to Chicago to go on transit adventures feels a bit unwise.

To start: On Halloween 2011, I was railfanning in Chicago and I went on a mainly CTA bus (and walking trip to get the Metra Milwaukee West Stations within the city of Chicago, here are some of them:




Riding the Milwaukee West Line from Bartlett to Bensonville

I woke up at my hotel room in Eligin West/Dundee (after going on a bike/Metra ride out there on Sunday), getting a bit of a late start (it is a rare Monday off from work after all) and after the usual free hotel breakfast got on my bike and rode to the Big Timber Road Station(16 Photos), this station opened in 1986 primarily to provide more Commuter Parking stations in the western suburbs, and only sees service on weekdays (another reason I chose the Milwaukee West Line to take this adventure on).


I got on the 9:36 train, realizing I probably needed the 8:36 train to complete my goal of riding all the way to Franklin Park (I have all the stops after that one already photographed from a CTA bus adventure a number of years ago). I take this train to Bartlett(46 Photos)


I then got on my bike and just started riding, stoping at each Metra stop, it was largely an uneventful bike ride of stations in quick succession:

As I approached Bensonville I realized it was nearing 2:00pm and the train I needed to take to give myself enough time to get the Evening Express train home to South Bend, the only westbound train on weekdays with a bike car. First I road by this park with some old locomotives in it:

I then got to the Bensonville(17 Photos) Station where the ticket office has closed.

It was an easy ride into Union Station, where I used the North Exit.


I then biked across the loop with a quick-stop for a late lunch. It was then an easy, under two hours ride (with just one other bicyclist in the car) on the 3:58pm Evening Express home to South Bend. Where I got home at 7:00pm happy to have some time to relax before having an intense 5 days at work (I took Monday off to work a Saturday event).

A Sunday Metra bike ride – the UP North Line to Ravina, biking across to the Milwaukee North Line to the Milwaukee West Line to Elgin for the Night

This past June 4, 2017 I found myself with a Monday I had to take off from work (working an event the following Saturday), and no plans, my friend Robbie needed to go to Chicago to catch a flight after visiting so I decided to spend the night in a suburban Chicago hotel and try and fully bike and ‘finish’ a Metra Line.

I previously shared some photos of the Chicago railyards from earlier in the day. This blog post begins at around 3:00pm when I leave Robbie to take the Blue Line out to O’Hare and I decide to start with a little Metra jaunt on a different line (armed with an $8 Weekend Unlimited Pass) before heading out to Elgin for the night. The choice of where to ride is easy, only the Union Pacific North Line has a single train leaving downtown Chicago in the 3 o’clock hour (a semi-express) of all the 6 Metra Lines that run on Sundays out of Union Station and the UP Lines out of Ogilvie Transportation Center. Most Sunday service on Metra is every 2 hours. Entering Ogilive Transportation Center(3 Photos) is eerily empty since there’s just one train about to leave, and it’s a Sunday afternoon.

I head up and board the train, still unsure of my destination. Looking at my phone (for maps, I realize it makes sense to ride the  and timetables I get off at Ravinia(24 Photos)

Then it’s a very easy ride down a bike path to the special event Ravinia Park(14 Photos)

It’s then under a half-mile to Braeside(17 Photos), the next regularly stop down the same bike path.

After it was not a very fun 3 mile bike ride across very busy Lake-Cook Road to the namesake Lake-Cook Road(20 Photos)

I then rode south one more stop to Northbrook(17 Photos)

From there I took the 5:33pm Inbound train, which was a bit of an adventure. At around the Mayfair Station the train lost HEP. After about a 5 minute delay while the engineer climbed to the rear locomotive, (since as an Inbound train we were running in ‘push’ mode), and then a smaller further delay at Graryland it was announced that we would be continuing into Union Station without Air Conditioning or ventilation. A wise choice for just a short ride, compared to stranding passengers within 20 minutes of their destination.

I get off at Western(24 Photos) at 6:14 (6 minutes late) to transfer to the Union Pacific West Line. As I wait a number of announcements are made that this train is running late due to mechanical difficulties (the trainset I got off of was turning at Union Station).  My train due at 6:49, arrives before the Milwaukee North Line train (scheduled for 6:44), with my train making tons of “This is a Milwaukee West Line train to Elgin, not the train to Fox Lake” announcements as it stopped.

I have a preview of the stops I’m going to biking between and photographing tomorrow before we get to National Street(26 Photos)

I get off and get some photos of the station, plus a few across the River as I head to a hole in the wall Mexican Restaurant to pick up dinner. I then get a few photos of the Elgin(19 Photos) station in the darkness.

It’s then an okay ride in the dark (I have bike lights), including through the campus of Judson University to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Elgin/West Dundee, the only frustrating part of the ride is I could have taken bike trails the whole way had a bridge across the Fox River been mapped by Google.


The other end of the UP Lines – The Ogilvie Transportation Center and Clybourn

In addition to the last Kenosha Update, in this update I have a page for the UP Line’s Chicago Terminus and the first stop on the UP North and Northwest Lines which has a very strange platform arrangement: