The bi-level train is perhaps the most unique train you can ride at the Illinois Railway Museum. Made up of double-deck, or “bi-level,” passenger cars from the 1950s, it is a fully restored and authentic example of a period Chicago & North Western commuter train. Enjoy the air conditioning during the summer or relax in heated comfort in cooler weather. Kids will love climbing the stairs and sitting on the upper level for a giraffe’s-eye view of the museum’s demonstration railroad.
Besides its two levels, another unique feature of IRM’s bi-level train is its “push-pull” operation. When the diesel locomotive – usually Chicago & North Western 411, a restored F7 locomotive – is at the front, the engineer runs from the engine as with most trains. But when going in the other direction, the engineer switches to the front bi-level car itself, which boasts a fully operational engineer’s station. IRM is the only museum that operates a restored set of bi-level cars in this authentic fashion. Our 1959 “cab car,” number 151, was the first bi-level car ever built for push-pull operation.
The bi-level train only runs a few times a year, so make sure to go for a ride when it’s running. The train is unmistakable in brilliant yellow and green. Cars included in the train typically include two or three of the following:
- Chicago & North Western 1 – 1955 bi-level coach
- Chicago & North Western 6 – 1955 bi-level coach
- Chicago & North Western 151 – 1959 bi-level coach cab car
Help Keep the Bi-Levels Rolling
The volunteers in our Diesel Department work hard to keep the Bi-Level Train in great condition, but they need your help to support ongoing repair and maintenance work. Click here to learn how you can support the only restored, operational push-pull bi-level train in preservation.