Metra is adding six trains in each direction on the Milwaukee District West line, although the increase will primarily benefit Galewood commuters.
The changes, which took effect on Dec. 12, include the addition of morning and afternoon rush hour service and midday trains in both directions, and improved reverse commuter and off-peak travel options. But most of the new trains will skip past the stations that serve North Austin – Hanson Park and Grand/Cicero – and the Mars station, which serves the Mars plant in Galewood. In recent years, most non-rush-hour stations have skipped those stations and the service changes continue this pattern.
The service changes are part of Metra’s broader push to get the service closer to pre-pandemic levels, while also accounting for the changes in workplace commuting patterns, which saw fewer people going to the office five days a week and more demand for reverse-commuting patterns.
The Milwaukee District West line forms the Austin community area’s northern border, so the stations traditionally served Austin and the communities to the north. Grand/Cicero station is located above the intersection of Grand and Cicero avenues, while Hanson Park station is located at Central Avenue. Galewood station serves Narragansett Avenue, while Mont Clare station serves Medill Street. Grand/Cicero, Hanson Park and Mars stations are currently flag stops, so trains ride past them unless there are passengers on the platform or a passenger requests a stop.
The new schedule adds an early morning option in both directions, with an inbound train arriving at Galewood station at 5:08 a.m. and reaching downtown Chicago at 5:31 a.m., while the outbound train arrives at Grand/Cicero at 5:55 a.m., Hanson Park at 5:58 a.m. Galewood at 6 a.m., Mars at 6:02 a.m. and Montclare at 6: 04 a.m.
The schedule adds one inbound morning rush hour train that arrives in Montclare at 7:55 a.m., Mars at 7:57 a.m. Galewood at 7:59 a.m., Hanson Park at 8:01 a.m. and Grand/Cicero at 8:03 a.m. The new outbound rush hour train stops in Galewood at 7:13 a.m. and Montclare at 7:15 a.m., but it only goes as far as Franklin Park.
The line will also get two off-peak trains to fill in some gaps in the schedule, so that the train now runs once an hour, and one afternoon rush hour downtown-to-Franklin Park train in each direction. The inbound train improves reverse-commuting options, stopping in Montclare at 5:03 p.m. and Galewood at 5:05 p.m. The inbound train leaves downtown at 4:08 p.m., stopping at Grand/Ciciero at 4:24 p.m., Hanson Park 4:27 p.m., Galewood at 4:30 p.m., Mars at 4:32 p.m. and Montclare at 4:34 p.m
Finally, the new schedule adds a late inbound evening train that stops at Montclare at 10:18 p.m. and Galewood at 10:20 p.m., as well as an outbound train that leaves downtown at 10:20 p.m., partially filling the three-hour gap between the 8:40 pm. and 11:10 p.m. trains.