Car 553 is a private club commuter train car. It is the only one of its kind in the United States.
The club began in 1929 to serve commuters in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago on what was then The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad (C&NW). The first car commissioned was C&NW 6700, and was named “The Deerpath.” In 1949, the American Car and Foundry Company built C&NW 7901 as a long distance passenger lounge car. In 1961, it was rebuilt for commuter service and renumbered 553. In 1975, the club acquired Car 553 and put it into private service. Over time the name of the car shifted from “The Deerpath” to simply “Car 553.”
The car has been rehabbed several times over the decades, most recently in 2017. Car 553 still wore the color scheme of the pre-Metra Regional Transportation Authority's passenger equipment until late 2017, when it was restored to its original C&NW yellow and green colors and lettering.Why join?
Most members join for the convenience of having a guaranteed seat and a calmer commute, but members tend to stay because of the people they meet and the fun of riding to and from work with the same folks every day. Riding 553 is a great way to get to know people who live and work where you do. To enhance the social nature of the car, we host a cocktail party on the car once a quarter during the northbound evening ride which is open to members, spouses, and invited guests. Members also host other informal outings (such as dinner) from time to time.
The car offers other amenities such as coffee in the morning, a refrigerator where members can keep their favorite beverages cool, a private bathroom, and a recently refurbished bar where members can unwind at the end of a long work day.How it works?
Car 553 rides the Metra Union Pacific North line southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening during the work week (Monday through Friday.) It is attached to train #314 in the morning—arriving downtown Chicago at Ogilvie Station at 8:02a—and train #349 in the evening—departing Ogilvie at 5:35p.
Members are responsible for purchasing their own tickets from Metra as well as paying quarterly dues to the car. There is a onetime fee for joining. We encourage prospective members to take a complimentary ride and look for themselves.How to join?
Please tell us a bit about yourself—including where you live and work—in an email to George, head of the membership committee. During the relatively informal membership process, new members will meet with the membership committee or other current members and be asked to fill out an application.