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Chicago, Burlington & Quincy commuter train, 1950-1970s

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy commuter train, 1950-1970s

Fred Klein, 2015

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad provided commuter rail service along its west Chicago triple-track route from Aurora into Chicago’s Union Station since the late 19th century.  The CB&Q mainline through the Chicago suburbs is called the racetrack, and has been a popular spot for watching freight and passenger trains for years. Now the tracks are owned by BNSF. In 1950, CB&Q was the first commuter line to provide bi-level gallery commuter cars when it took delivery of stainless steel cars from the Budd Company, though it did not replace all of the steam-era coaches immediately. CB&Q’s successor Burlington Northern operated the commuter service under contract to the Regional Transportation Authority starting in the late 1970s until Metra took over operations with its own locomotives in the 1990s. After the Burlington Northern merger in 1970, the E-series locomotives were repainted in BNs green and white colors. Even with BN and Metra locomotives, the Budd gallery cars still had “Burlington” in the letterboard over the door.



A CB&Q E7 diesel and commuter train near Cass Avenue in Westmont Illinois on January 4, 1965. Marty Bernard photo.


A CB&Q E8 leads a short commuter train near in Westmont Illinois on January 26, 1966. The baggage car is unusual for commute trains, but meant the train needed a coach-generator car because the baggage car did not have passenger electric lines to supply the passengers with electricity from the locomotive. Marty Bernard photo.


A coach-generator car in Westmont, Illinois. These were made from converted heavy weight coaches and were homemade by the Burlington. I do not have one for my model train, but many prototype trains did not need one.


An E series CB&Q diesel with a generator car and four commuter cars. Most E locomotives did not have enough power for a string of commuter cars, and longer trains had an older heavyweight coach converted with a generator compartment in the front next to the engine. Joe McMillan photo.


A Chicago commuter train on the Aurora Line in the early 1970s. Note the Burlington herald is gone from the front of the E8 diesel and there is a Burlington-Northern Herald on the side.


The Burlington commuter trains are easy to model because the Budd gallery commuter cars made by Concor are readily available. Some of the cars in the model train are factory painted, and some were repainted and decaled. I repainted SP cars and others from railroads that never owned Budd gallery cars. E7 and E8 diesels for Burlington are available factory painted. My E8 is from Kato. If you want to date the train from the early 1970s through the early 1990s, use a Burlington Northern locomotive. After that, a Metra FP40 engine would be correct.



Chicago Burlington and Quincy commuter train




The E8 diesel is a model from Kato. The gallery commuter cars are made by Concor. The last gallery coach has an engineer’s  cab so the train can be operated in push-pull mode.



LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01 





Kunz, Richard, Chicago’s commuter railroads, Andover Publications, 1992.