Want a fast, reliable, and eco-friendly way to get to O’Hare?
So do we. It’s not an impossible dream.
Fast, frequent, and affordable trains are the answer.
O’Hare is the Midwest’s gateway to the world. It has more international destinations than all other airports in the Midwest combined.
But getting there usually means a long car drive or a cramped regional flight. Pick your poison: traffic jams or unreliable feeder flights—and long waits in either case.
Everyone is fed up with these options: executives in downtown Chicago, students in Champaign, orthopedic device designers in Warsaw, Indiana. We all want a fast, reliable, and stress-free way to get to O’Hare.
Business travelers have gotten most of the attention when trains to O'Hare have been discussed in recent years.
In truth, they are just one segment of many that need good access to O'Hare.
The good news is that when done correctly, good trains serve many markets at once—including O'Hare's many airport workers.
O’Hare does long-haul domestic and international flights really well. So it’s odd that much of its capacity is devoted to small feeder planes that shuttle people to O’Hare from around the Midwest. These connector flights are frequently cancelled in bad weather, or when passenger loads are light. So travelers often drive hundreds of miles to O'Hare instead of taking the risk.
It’s a radically inefficient system. It makes no sense for anyone: not for airlines, not for travelers, and certainly not for the airport itself or the City of Chicago.
Replacing feeder flights with trains will open capacity for big planes and long-haul domestic and international flights. It’ll also bring more reliability to the system.
A midwest high-speed rail network would put 45 million people within a 3-hour train ride of O’Hare. Most trips will take much less than that, of course. Instead of idling in traffic jams or sitting in the airport and on runways, travelers can work on the train—or just relax.
And, because O’Hare charges more in landing fees for big planes than small ones, Chicago will also bring in more money. That’ll help pay for the airport’s ongoing expansion project, while allowing O’Hare to do what it does best: focus on long-haul flights. Since longer flights are more profitable than puddle jumpers, more of them means more revenue for the airlines, too.
The infrastructure that makes this possible also means better trains between O'Hare and the rest of Chicagoland.
A recently opened parking garage is part of the ongoing O’Hare expansion. It is also the home of rental cars, hotel shuttles, and regional buses. It connects to the terminals by the airport transit system.
It also happens to be right next to the tracks that host Metra’s North Central service.
Building a new train station into the garage to replace the existing Metra O'Hare Transfer station would be the most expedient way to get trains to O'Hare. Trains from all over the Chicago region and around the Midwest could stop here.
Suburban residents could park here to catch a regional train too.
Ultimately, a new tunnel should be dug under the airport so that high-speed trains from around the Midwest can serve the airport directly.
Once there’s a station, there can be trains. The tracks are already in place for trains from Chicago Union Station, but O’Hare needs trains from more than just downtown.
By adding track to existing Metra lines, trains from around the Chicago region—and the entire Midwest—can stop at O’Hare. Coming from Barrington? Easy. Aurora? No sweat. McCormick Place, Hyde Park, the south suburbs? It’ll be a one-seat ride to O’Hare with our CrossRail Chicago proposal.
And what about the trains from places around the Midwest that replace those puddle-jumper flights? Amtrak trains from Milwaukee, Champaign, Kalamazoo, or almost anywhere can make a detour or extend their trip past downtown Chicago and take you directly to O’Hare.
With the later addition of new high-speed track, these trains from around the Midwest can even be faster than flying. Until then, they’ll definitely be easier, more comfortable, cheaper, and greener than short connecting flights.
Once the station and tracks are in place, the trick is to run the right kind of trains. The aging cars that Metra and Amtrak use today require you to climb stairs, which is difficult when you’re carrying luggage.
Modern train equipment has bigger doors with fewer or no steps to climb. New trains have luggage racks near the doors and wide aisles that make it easy to get on and off. They also have spaces for bikes and are easier for people who use wheelchairs or crutches.
With modern locomotives, trains are quieter, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient. Or, the trains can have the engines distributed throughout, so a separate locomotive isn’t needed. Either way, modern train designs are lighter but also stronger. They not only start and stop faster, they’re safer, too.
Our immediate goal is to get trains from around the Chicago region and the Midwest running to and from O’Hare. The ultimate goal is to create a regional high-speed network with the airport at its heart.
Ready to take the train to your plane? Send a message today. We've made it easy to tell your elected officials in Washington, D.C. (and Springfield, Illinois) that O'Hare needs trains!