Chicago Metra to Purchase Battery-Powered Trainsets

Chicago’s commuter rail operator, Metra has been awarded a 169.3 million USD grant to purchase zero-emission, battery-powered trainsets.

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funding was approved by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee to support the purchase of up to 16 trainsets.

Metra's commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area
Metra’s commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area

Battery-powered trains would add a new type of propulsion to Metra’s fleet. These units would be able to accelerate and brake faster than its traditional trains.

In addition, Metra anticipates that lower-capacity trainsets could provide a more economical and environmentally friendly service, particularly during off-peak times. This would help Metra achieve its vision of providing more frequent all-day regional rail services.

In turn, Metra would be able to retire some of its oldest, most polluting diesel locomotives.

The operator would likely introduce the new trainsets on the Rock Island Line to help improve air quality in several economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods on the South Side of Chicago.

Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said:

“We think zero-emission trainsets could be an exciting and positive addition to Metra’s fleet for a variety of reasons. Beyond the environmental and noise reduction benefits, they also offer savings in energy consumption as well as better efficiency, flexibility, and reliability. Along with our other initiatives, they would continue to make Metra a responsible and effective leader in green energy technology.”

The CMAQ funding will enable Metra to be among the first operators in the nation to procure battery-powered passenger trains, which are already in operation in Germany, France and Australia.

In September 2022, the operator issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the battery-powered trainsets and is now reviewing proposals.

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