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Union Pacific Third Main Line Project
Union PacificUnion Pacific Tracks and Downtown Parking Deck is planning to add a third railroad line on its UP/Metra West Line from River Forest to Melrose Park and then from West Chicago to Geneva. In our community, the new rail is proposed to being set 20 feet south of the current tracks, and construction will include more retaining walls.

The improvements are designed to ensure smoother traffic flow and reduce conflicts between commuter and freight trains that share the line. Earlier projects completed by Metra and Union Pacific modernized the signal system and added crossovers to make freight movement more efficient. The West Line third rail expansion will allow 59 Metra trains and 70 freight trains that use the line each day to operate at the same time, which the railroad agencies believe is a critical step to improving the line’s reliability and efficiency.

Construction on the third rail is not expected to begin until 2018.

To prepare for the loss of about 145 surface parking spaces to accommodate the railroad expansion, the City secured grant funding and built a third tier expansion for the Third Street Commuter parking deck expansion (180 new spaces).

The new Fourth Street commuter permit parking lot (91 spaces) also has opened in March 2016.

Latest Update
Union Pacific provided the City Council with an update on the third main line project Nov. 7, 2016. The presentation starts at the 24:38 mark in the video below.

During the discussion, Union Pacific said design work on the 6.1-mile stretch of new rail is completed after having worked with City of Geneva staff, the Geneva Park District, Illinois Department of Transportation and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. The plan is now undergoing environmental review.

The timetable calls for construction bids to be issued in summer 2017 and work likely to begin in winter 2018. The overall construction schedule is expected to take 18 to 24 months. Some other important items highlighted were:

  • Once the project is underway, Union Pacific said trains will be federally required to sound their horns when construction workers are present.
  • The grade crossings at Third Street and Western Avenue will need to be closed for four to six weeks as part of the project. Route 31 will need to be shut down for up to four months for bridge work. None of the crossings will be shut down at the same time.
  • Union Pacific needs to acquire small tracts of land as part of the project. Specific property acquisition details have not been made available at this time.
  • Rail officials said installing a temporary sound wall during construction is not being considered at this time.

Union Pacific is in the process of scheduling a community meeting with residents and interested stakeholders to discuss the rail expansion and answer questions. Details will be announced when more information is available.


If you want more information about the Union Pacific/Metra West Line third rail project, call City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins at 630-232-7494 or send her an email.

Union Pacific Public Affairs
Liisa Stark 916-792-9160

Metra Community Affairs
Demetrious Skoufis 312-322-6754