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Milwaukee Road commuter trains, 1965-1982

Milwaukee Road Chicago commuter trains, 1965-1982

Fred Klein, 2015


The Milwaukee Road ran commuter trains on its lines north of Chicago. The north line terminated in Fox Lake and the west line reached Elgin. After 1955, when the Milwaukee Road partnered with the Union Pacific, the west line hosted the Chicago connection of streamliners such as the City of Los Angeles. 1955 was the year the railroad adopted armor yellow for its locomotive color. Other railroads such as the Rock Island, Chicago Burlington and Quincy, and the Chicago North Western ran commuters too. In 1965, the Milwaukee Road replaced its old passenger equipment with new E9 and FP7 diesels, and Budd gallery commute cars. The commuter trains became unprofitable and in 1983 the Regional Transportation Authority purchased many of the commuter cars and took over service. During the last years before 1983, the RTA had to subsidize most of the railroad commuter service, and started running their own F40C locomotives. In Chicago, trains came into Union Station.


A commuter train at Fox Lake Illinois in June 1977.



A single car train at Gray’s Lake Illinois in 1964. One car was often all that was needed on weekends. Steve Patterson photo.



A two-car commuter train at tower A-20 in the late summer of 1973. Mike Schafer photo from Chicago’s Commuter Railroads.


The commuter train is easy to model because the E8 locomotives were made by Life-like or Kato. The E8 and E9 models look identical. The Budd commuter cars were made by Concor, both standard and with a control cab at the end for push-pull operation. Some of the cars are factory painted and some I repainted and decaled. The models are prototypical.


model car



model car name

E9 diesel




Gallery commuter car (6)



Some factory, some decaled


First section


The power after 1965 was an E9 diesel. After 1955, Milwaukee road colors were yellow with red trim to match the Union Pacific, with whom MILW partnered on passenger trains. This is a Life-like model. Commute trains had from 1 to 8 Budd gallery commuter cars. The end car had an engineer’s cab for push pull operation. The gallery cars were made by Concor.


Second section



Metra F40PH power as used after 1983









Dorin, Patrick, Commuter Railroads, 1970, Superior Publishing.

Kunz, Richard, Chicago’s Commuter Railroads, A guide to the Metra system, Andover Junction Publications, 1992. A 1991 snapshot of each of the 11 or so commuter lines before the arrival of modern Nippon-Sharyo cars and MP36PH locomotives.