Chicago, Illinois’ commuter rail network Metra has ordered eight battery-electric trains as part of two-car multiple units from Stadler in a $154m order that also includes options for another eight trains and up to 32 cars. 

Metra said its selection of the zero-emission trains, which will be assembled at the manufacturer’s Salt Lake City factory, is part of a desire to make its services more environmentally friendly while providing the same levels of service. 

Jim Derwinski, Metra CEO and executive director, said: “We think these trains will be an essential addition to our fleet. Beyond the environmental and noise reduction benefits, they could also play a significant role in our vision to provide more frequent all-day service.” 

The BEMU order, which will be used on Metra’s Rock Island Line, also includes engineering support, staff training, and the provision of spare parts while the additional car and train options, costing up to $181.4m, would allow the network to upgrade to three or four car trainsets. 

Stadler will also “winterise” the trainsets to ensure they are adapted to the severe cold and ice often seen in Chicago in the winter, with features such as underfloor heating, special insulation, well-sealed machine rooms, and air conditioning. 

Martin Ritter, CEO of Stadler US, said: “Our BEMU technology helps support transit agencies like Metra in their mission to bring state-of-the art green public transit to the US. We are excited to build these trains for the greater Chicago area and are looking forward to the partnership with Metra.” 

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The 112 passenger trains are funded by a $169.3m federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant, along with funding from Illinois’ PAYGO programme in line with the grant’s 20% local match requirements. Grant funds not used in the initial eight train order will go towards options later on. 

Once the trains are delivered, scheduled for 2027 to 2028, Metra said it will retire some of its oldest and most polluting railcars to improve the air quality in the southern Chicago suburbs where the BEMUs will be used.