Hours/Admission 2021

Purchase General Admission Tickets

Before you visit, even if you have been a regular visitor in the past, please take the time to review the following procedures and policies. There are significant changes from the way that the Museum has operated in the past. We expect these will be temporary, and we intend to modify them in phases as both health conditions and regulations permit.

Our Promise and Our Expectations

We are thrilled that the State of Illinois has moved into Phase 5 of their reopening plan, and we very much look forward to welcoming back so many of our friends and supporters. Even with almost all of the prior COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, you will still find some things are different than they were pre-pandemic.

The Museum is committed to providing the experience our regular visitors know and love while observing all applicable guidance of the civil authorities, and the health and safety of our visitors, members and staff remains foremost. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation in making our full reopening a success.

Our visitors and members help us ensure the health and safety of all by agreeing to the following:

  • Visitors and members are invitees to private property and, as such, are required to follow all of our policies.
  • Visitors and members that have been exposed to COVID-19 within the past 14 days or have symptoms of COVID-19 (including a fever, cough, or shortness of breath) must not visit.
  • We recognize that no practical level of precautions can provide absolute security against infection. Visitors and members that have underlying health conditions or are otherwise concerned about contracting COVID-19 should consider whether or not they are comfortable visiting the Museum.

New and Updated Policies Currently in Place

  • The Museum encourages you to pre-purchase tickets. Advance reservations are required for groups. Tickets are available through www.irm.org or by calling the Museum office at 815-923-4391.
  • Contactless check-in of pre-purchased tickets will be conducted by staff at our main parking lot entry booth.
  • To facilitate contactless check in, members will need a new-style plastic membership card. To speed your first visit, apply for the new-style card in advance. It will be ready for you at the gate.
  • Seating capacity on our trains has been increased to 100%.
  • People who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear a face covering or socially distance when in buildings or on the Museum grounds.
  • Those who are not fully vaccinated are expected to practice social distancing and wear a face covering at ALL times on Museum property, except when dining.
  • As all railroad operations (including ours) are regulated by the Federal government, DOT and TSA regulations for public transportation supersede state regulations and also apply to the Museum’s trains. Therefore, like CTA and Metra, we must still require face coverings for everyone ages 2 and up (unless unable to do so because of a disability, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act) aboard our trains. Please bring your own face covering and wear it whenever riding. All face coverings should:
    1. Fully cover your nose and mouth and allow you to remain hands-free.
    2. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
    3. Be made of breathable material, either disposable or reusable.
  • Anyone subject to these regulations unwilling to wear a face covering will not be permitted to board trains.
  • Our children’s playground is now open.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the property. Our public restrooms remain available for hand washing. Please take advantage of these opportunities as often as you can.
  • Our Diner will open soon. Until it does, snacks are available at the Gift Store and beverages from vending machines. When the Diner does open, the menu selections and operating hours may be limited to ensure quality standards. You are welcome to bring your own food and enjoy a picnic on one of the many tables around the campus.

Trains are currently scheduled to operate on the following dates only:
Saturdays: May 1 – October 30
Sundays: April 11 – October 31
Weekdays: May 31 – September 3
The museum is not open year-round. Please check our calendar for a complete list of dates the museum is open.

Click here to download a printable 2021 IRM calendar (PDF)

Museum Hours
Weekends: 10:00AM to 6:00PM (Last admissions 3:00PM)
Weekdays (except holidays): 10:00AM to 4:30PM (Last admissions 2:30PM)

Hours and fares for special events may differ; check calendar listing for details.
Operation of equipment is expected to start within 60 minutes of opening and cease 30 minutes before closing.
Parking lot opens 30 minutes before museum and closes 30 minutes after.

Fare Structure
( Tickets are good for unlimited rides – prices not applicable on Special Fare Days)
Adult Seniors 62+ Children*
Weekdays (except holidays) $11.00 $9.00 $8.00
Weekends – April and October $11.00 $9.00 $8.00
Weekends – May through September $15.00 $13.00 $11.00

*Children ages 2-11; children younger than 2 are admitted free

Chartered trains are available on dates the museum is open and may be available on certain other dates; for charter information, click here or write to the Charter Director, IRM, PO Box 427, Union, IL 60180.

For further information, telephone 815-923-4000 or 1-800-BIG-RAIL
For driving directions and information on reaching the museum via public transit click here.
Food service is available at the Central Diner weekends between June 19th and early October with a limited menu. There is currently no food service on weekdays. You are welcome to bring your own food any day the museum is open.
Central Diner hours are 11am-4pm on weekends and 11am-3pm on weekdays. The Central Diner is currently closed on weekdays and is open weekends starting June 19th.
All equipment, schedules, and prices subject to change without notice.


SPECIAL EVENTS FOR 2021

Events listed below are considered TENTATIVE and are subject to modification or cancellation due to health and safety regulations. Please check back on our website 1-2 weeks in advance of each event.

April – Saturdays – Bunny Trolley Hop – this event has been cancelled for 2021

May – Saturday – Scout Day – this event has been cancelled for 2021

May – Sunday – Mother’s Day – this event has been cancelled for 2021

May 29, 30 & 31 – Saturday, Sunday & Monday – Memorial Day Weekend
The summer begins! Steam or Diesel and Electric trains will operate all three days. Active Military personnel and their families admitted FREE with military ID.

June 5 & 6 – Saturday & Sunday – Railway Post Office (RPO) Weekend
Operations and Demonstrations of Railway Post Office railway cars with on-the-fly mail pickups. See how railroads played a major role in the handling of the U.S. Mail.

June 19 & 20 – Saturday & Sunday – Steam Engineer Experiencenew event!
See what it’s like to be the engineer on a real steam engine! Take your turn at the throttle of Shay 5 for an unforgettable experience.

June – Saturday – Chicago Day – this event has been cancelled for 2021

June – Sunday – Father’s Day – this event has been cancelled for 2021

July 3, 4 & 5 – Saturday, Sunday & Monday – Trolley Weekend
Vintage traction equipment will operate each day including streetcars, interurbans, rapid transit cars, and non-revenue equipment. Great photo opportunities for the traction fan! You will be able to ride some of this equipment on the mainline and streetcar line. Weekend fares apply on Monday, July 5th.

July 10, 11, 17 & 18 – Saturdays & Sundays – Day Out With Thomas
Join Thomas, Percy, Sir Topham Hatt, and all your friends for a magical visit to the Isle of Sodor! Ride the train with your favorite blue engine, see live shows and presentations, join in hands-on activities, and more. Special Fare Event. No passes honored for this event. Check website for opening times.

August 1 – Sunday – Vintage Transport Extravaganza
The past comes alive through the display of antique autos, trucks, fire engines, tractors, motorcycles and buses – hundreds of vehicles assemble throughout the Museum campus. Ride the streetcars to the various display areas. Interurbans and diesel coach trains will be running on the mainline! This event only: Call 815-923-4391 for information about displaying your vintage vehicle. Or download a PDF of the registration form (coming soon).

August 6, 7 & 8 – Friday, Saturday & Sunday – Diesel Days
Rarely-seen vintage diesels will operate in a variety of combinations and roles. Take a ride on a coach train and a caboose train pulled by one of these powerful giants. Many great photo opportunities for the diesel fan! Weekend fares apply on Friday, August 6th.

September 4, 5 & 6 – Saturday, Sunday & Monday – Labor Day Weekend
Join us for three days and two evenings of fun! Enjoy a twilight train ride, one of the most immersive experiences we offer. Pack a picnic, ride the trains and enjoy the last days of summer! Extended hours Saturday and Sunday to 9:30pm.

September 18 & 19 – Saturday & Sunday – Museum Showcase Weekend
Celebrate the Museum collection and honor the members who make it work! Ride and see some of the less frequently run equipment at IRM. Bring your camera and enjoy the weekend!

September 25 – Saturday – Bus Day
Where the rubber meets the road. Join us for trolley bus and motor bus rides and see other buses that will be open and on display.

October 23, 24, 30 & 31 – Saturdays & Sundays – Pumpkin Train
Pick up your pumpkin by train and enjoy some Halloween-themed family fun. Kids encouraged to come in costume!

November 26, 27 & 28, December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 – Saturdays & Sundays – Happy Holiday Railway
Embark on a magical train ride through the winter countryside with Santa Claus himself! Warm treats will be served and gifts will be given to kids on Santa’s “good list”. Special Fare Event. No passes honored for this event. Check website for opening times.

For further information, telephone 815-923-4000 or 1-800-BIG-RAIL
All equipment, schedules, and prices subject to change without notice.

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