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Metra Orders 160 New Cars for Electric Line

Homewood and Flossmoor will not be seeing any of Metra's newly refurbished cars on the Electric Line. Instead, we're getting 160 brand new ones.

Yesterday, . After some follow-up questions today, we’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The Bad

Not a single one of the newly refurbished cars will ever run on the Metra Electric Line. Michael Gillis of Metra explains why:

… the Metra Electric Line is, as its name implies, electrified. It uses electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars, which are electric self-propelled coaches that draw power from an overhead catenary wire system. It does not share equipment with the other 10 Metra lines, which have diesel locomotives pulling bi-level passenger cars.

The Good

For those H-F residents who might be to be missing out on the refurbished cars, you can take a deep breath knowing that, according to Gillis, Metra spent $585 million ordering 160 brand new cars for the Metra Electric line. The new cars are promised to share some of the features of the rehabbed Metra cars, such as power outlets, Gillis said. Commuters can expect to see the new cars on the Electric Line towards the end of this year, according to Metra.

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Bill Moser July 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM
We were promised new cars years ago, about the time they took out the turnstiles when we found out that we were the only line to have them. We got the then-new cars a couple of times a day, but not on all trips. A conductor told me they weren't compatible with the main computer system. Whether that was true or not I can't say. But I do know the electric line gets the short end of the stick consistently.
Alex Esche July 19, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I've thought about the pollution of the electric line versus diesel locomotives when I started taking the train in Homewood last Fall. For a commuter path, it seems electric power would waste a lot less electricity than a diesel stopping and starting, but I don't have enough information.
Flossmoor Mike July 19, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I ride the electric line every day and feel the old cars are far more comfortable than the new ones. I hope this generation of new cars is better than the last batch.
FlossmoorMom July 19, 2012 at 06:14 PM
NOO! I hope that we don't get the same "new" cars that they run now...they are so uncomfortable. I love the old ones with the soft seats! lol
Mike July 19, 2012 at 06:41 PM
That's interesting and explains why there have been so many differences between our line and the west and north lines. Given the economies of scale, I can now see why many of the capital improvements occur on those lines first. In the meantime, I suppose we can all be delighted with the fact that our line is using a more efficient and eco-friendly technology.
GladvilleGirl July 19, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I used to ride the electric line every day (and I was around when the bridge went out and we were all forced to discover the amenities other lines had and we didn't). The new cars seemed like good news, but my sister (who is now the regular commuter) tells me that they use the new cars with the bathrooms at poorly planned times. The express trains don't need bathrooms nearly as much as the late night make all the stops trains! Seriously unfun: coming home from a night out with friends and realizing you have to use the non-existent facilities somewhere around 63rd street.
FlossmoorGuy July 20, 2012 at 01:17 AM
The "Old" cars are much better than the "new" cars. I hope that they learned from the 26 awful ones that they bought a few years back. The upper deck is much nicer on the old cars; the seats are more comfortable, and the A/C can usually keep up with the summer heat. The new cars are uncomfortable and hot. Does anyone know if the new cars are improved over the last batch?
SHUSSBAR July 20, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Yeah. Agree. Then old cars are way more comfy for my commute. Softer seats. Then "new" we got several years ago have harder seat s than a bus for convicts. the only good thing is the bathroom but yes the cars with them dont run at night. Some ok for new new care but with the comfort of the old one and a bar would be nice too.
Marie B. July 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I can't believe the comments I'm reading from commuters complaining about the comfort of the old seats versus the newer ones! Are you kidding me? We're finally getting new rail cars after years of riding Metra's oldest that always had mechanical issues and all you people can do is complain about comfort? If you want comfort over safety, drive your own car to work downtown and pay more monthly on gas and parking! I calculated how much money I saved taking the train at $150/month compared to driving my car at $750/month which includes gas, parking and car maintenance....DO THE MATH PEOPLE AND STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT EVERYTHING!
TG July 20, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I love Metra and take it everyday myself, but the old cars are definitely better. The last few times I have been on trains with "equipment problems," it has been a new train. The old ones have way more space.
SHUSSBAR July 20, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Still, the old one are still more comfortable than the new ones and more comfortable than my car even. The subject is not about cost / car vs train but about new new, new, and old trains. Thanks
SHUSSBAR July 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Since this is Japanese trains, I hope they have the confort of Japanese commuter trains as well and not retrofitted to fit a maximum of American sardines in a can.:-) "The Metra Board of Directors approved a contract with Sumitomo Corp. of America to buy 160 new Highliner cars for use on our Metra Electric Line. Nippon Sharyo is Sumitomo’s car-building partner ".
WA Mama July 20, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I do hate the "new cars" because the seats are uncomfortable.
FlossmoorMom July 21, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Whoa Marie, calm down....no need to get all "capital letter" on us commuters. I commute every day except Sunday, and yeah comfort is important to me...I get up at 4am every day and am home late...I enjoy a good snooze on the train. So what I I say I enjoy a comfy seat...RELAX!
JohnH July 21, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Actually, Metra uses diesel-electric locomotives, which use diesel engines to drive an on-board electric generator to power electric motors. So in terms or performance, they are similar to the drives on the electric line. Creating the power locally (on the train) frees the train from the overhead lines and reduces power loss due to resistance. The question is, what fuel is used in the power plants that generate the electricity powering the ME trains? If it's coal or oil, then they are no cleaner, net, than the locomotives on the other lines. If it's nuclear, say from Braidwood, then it is.
Jetta July 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I am a regular flossmoor station to van buren station. While the longest duration breakdowm I have endured was on a new car, this was offset by having a restroom. May not matter as much to you younger folks but means a lot to us riders of a certain age. The old cars leak when it rains and the heat/ac varies from car to car. And the old PA system? Sounds like a bunch of chickens scratching. Old cars are of marginal cleanliness also. I do hope the 160 new cars have somewhere to rest your arm if you are sitting by the window, that is my only complaint about the existing "new" cars.
Jetta July 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Correction: van buren station rider
Jetta July 21, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Now Metra needs to totally rehab Van Buren station starting with the tunnel under michigan ave. It is so dilapidated I feel unsafe. It is the worst downtown station in the Metra system.
FlossmoorGuy July 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Most of the delays and "mechanical problems" involve switches on the track, signalling problems, and electrical outages. These issues are unrelated to the cars themselves. We should be careful not to get excited just because something is "new." I sincerely hope that the new cars are an improvment, but the last set of "new" cars certainly were not. Why cheer the purchase of expensive, less reliable, less comfortable cars?
FlossmoorMom July 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Actually that was discussed at the meeting, my husband asked about it. (My memory of the exact situation is a little foggy but..)They said they could not fix the leak until the city had enough money to rebuild the bridge over the lines, as that's where the issue is. They finally got the funding and I think they are going to fix it next year...
Matt August 10, 2012 at 04:54 PM
The 2005 train cars look great: Nice, clean and stainless steel and god knows we really need them. Yesterday, I rode in one of the few vintage 1972 trains with the orange and yellow seats. So retro and smelled old and warn out, but the seats were oh so comfortable! Hopefully the new metra trains will have more comfortable seats and more sound insulation than the trains that were purchased in 2005. The trains could really use digital displays on the exterior that state the destination of the train (i.e. University Park / Blue Island / South Chicago). This would help people from getting confused. If the CTA trains have destination displays on them, why can't the Metra, especially since the Metra Electric has 3 branches!

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