A major tie replacement project between Libertyville and Fox Lake will impact midday and weekend service on the northernmost part of Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line during the month of April, including a shutdown of the line north of Lake Forest for three consecutive weekends.
“We realize that this will represent a short-term inconvenience for some of our riders, but track projects like this are absolutely essential to maintaining safe and high-quality rail service,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Limiting rail traffic during the work period will significantly condense the project timeline and the overall customer impact.”
In addition to the shutdown of service north of Lake Forest on three weekends, the project will also impact midday service on weekdays north of the Grayslake Station. Work will begin Thursday, April 5 and continue through Friday, April 27.
Metra forces will replace 17,000 ties over a 17-mile single-track span between Fox Lake and the Libertyville area in Lake County. In addition to tie replacement, the work will also include the replacement of five switches, brush clearing and the continued upgrade of the signal system on this section track in preparation for the Positive Train Control safety system. If permits can be obtained from local municipalities, the rail crossings at St. Mary’s Road and Route 120 will also be replaced during this time period.
Weekday Impacts (April 5-April 27):
Weekday (Monday through Friday) service between Fox Lake and Grayslake will be limited to morning rush hour and evening rush hour trains. Normal weekday service will be provided between Grayslake and Chicago. For riders who board between Fox Lake and Grayslake, the last inbound morning departure from Fox Lake will be Train 2124, at 7:28 a.m. Inbound trains from Fox Lake will not resume service until Train 2146’s departure at 4:14 p.m. The first outbound train to Fox Lake on weekdays will be Train 2121, which departs Chicago Union station at 2:35 p.m. and arrives in Fox Lake at 4:08 p.m.
Busing to Grayslake from Fox Lake, Ingleside, Long Lake and Round Lake will be available on weekdays during midday periods. However, customers are advised that although the buses will depart the stations north of Grayslake at the normal train departure time, they will not arrive at Grayslake in time to meet their normally scheduled train. Customers will instead wait to board the next scheduled train and will arrive downtown one hour later. To reduce wait time, customers are advised to drive to the Grayslake Station for midday trips. Parking should be readily available at Grayslake. The Prairie Crossing Station is also an option for midday trips.
Weekend Service Impacts (April 7-8, April 14-15 and April 21-22):
For three consecutive weekends beginning April 7, there will be no inbound or outbound service north of Lake Forest all day Saturday until Sunday night. The first train traveling north of Lake Forest will be outbound Train 2623, the 8:35 p.m. departure from Chicago Union Station, on Sunday night. The first inbound on Sunday night will be Train 2622, which departs Fox Lake at 10:25 p.m. Customers are advised to use the Lake Forest Station for Saturday and Sunday trips.
The project will take place along a 17-mile single-track section of the line, where track equipment and workers cannot be moved out of the way of passenger trains without traveling a significant distance. Taking this track out of service during the part of the weekday and during the weekends is the most expedient and cost efficient approach, cutting the time required for the work by at least 50 percent.
Most Milwaukee North riders will not experience any noticeable difference in service. Metra boarding counts show that more than 90 percent of the riders on this line board from Grayslake and points south of the work zone.
A more detailed view of the train schedules can be found here.