DeKalb Metra Extension Feasibility Study

A graphic of the historic DeKalb train station is shown with webpage title.

Public Meetings

In May, two community meetings were held to share the findings of the feasibility study on a possible extension of Metra service from Elburn to DeKalb. Representatives from the City of DeKalb and Sam Schwartz Consulting, which performed the study, also took questions and heard community feedback. The second meeting was held virtually and can be viewed below.

Community Survey

The project team for the DeKalb Metra Extension Feasibility Study wants to hear your feedback on the possible service extension to DeKalb.

A brief community survey can be completed here.

How to Access Metra Now

The City of DeKalb, in partnership with NIU, runs a shuttle from DeKalb to the Elburn Train Station to facilitate use of Metra and other public transportation options. Please visit DeKalb’s Public Transit webpage for information on transit access throughout the City and the Route 12 shuttle service. 

Click Here for the Route 12 Shuttle’s Schedule

Metra Extension Feasibility Study

The City of DeKalb, in partnership with Northern Illinois University (NIU), is leading a study to assess the feasibility of extending Metra’s Union Pacific West (UP-West) line from the Elburn station to the City of DeKalb. 

The study aims to identify the existing travel market between DeKalb and the Chicago metropolitan area, the number of potential riders, outline potential costs and other requirements for the service extension, and estimate, at a high level, possible funding opportunities. The feasibility study will include ample outreach to the community to build support and identify community perspectives on a potential rail extension to DeKalb. The extension of the UP-West line would require construction and use of 15-miles of track owned by Union Pacific (UP) Railroad. The feasibility study will also outline the agreements needed between the City of DeKalb, UP, and Metra to facilitate operation of the service.

Study Goals

Information on the goals of the feasibility study.

Study Timeline
A graphic of a train showing the timeline for the study.

Key Findings to Date

DeKalb has 40,000 residents, which includes 7,415 NIU students that live in University housing or at other locations in the 60115 zip code. 

The DeKalb Urbanized Area (DeKalb, Sycamore, and Cortland) has 64,700 residents.

NIU has a student population of 16,000 students  (52% of which commute from outside of DeKalb) and employs approximately 3,000 faculty and staff. 

DeKalb Public Transit Route 12 operates between DeKalb and Elburn, providing a key connection to the Metra UP-West line. Route 12 operates 10 round trips each weekday between DeKalb and Elburn, with each trip meeting a Metra arrival or departure.

Approximately 10,800 people travel daily between DeKalb County and the communities along the UP-West line, including the City of Chicago. 

The top 5 Amtrak stations in the state of Illinois each connect to a nearby university, demonstrating the mutually beneficial relationship between passenger rail and higher education facilities. NIU is the largest university in the state without passenger rail service. 

64% of students enrolled at NIU come from the six county Chicago Metropolitan area, with 14% coming from communities along the UP-West line. 17% of NIU employees also live along the UP-West line.

Proposed Route Map

A map showing the proposed extension area.

Operational and capital cost estimates will be developed in Phase 3 of the study along with funding opportunities.

Community Engagement

Information on the types of community engagement that will be conducted during the study.

Questions on the project can be e-mailed here.