On October 12, 2022, the CMAP Board approved an update to the ON TO 2050 long-range plan, including an updated indicators appendix.

The indicator measures the fluidity of the Chicago Terminal, which is important to the economic strength of the region’s rail industry. This measures the annual average time carload freight takes to get through the core of Chicago’s rail freight hub, the Chicago Terminal, extending from the City of Chicago to roughly the Indiana Harbor Belt Railway in the near-west suburbs. Much of the carload freight needs to pass through classification yards in the Chicago Terminal, where the interchange is made between predominantly eastern railroads, predominantly western railroads, Canadian railroads, and smaller regional and industrial railroads. The measure also indicates how fast trains are moving — a slow train will block a highway-rail grade crossing longer than a fast train.


The targets reflect a return to 2016 conditions by 2025, and cutting the remaining transit time, less yard dwell time, in half by 2050. A fixed yard dwell time of 22 hours, consistent with recent observations, is assumed. The amount of time trains spend in classification yards is beyond the control of any Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) policy recommendations, so the targets focus solely on decreasing the time spent traveling to and from them.

2025: 27.0 hours or shorter carload transit time

2050: 24.5 hours or shorter carload transit time


Chicago terminal carload transit time


  •   Actual
  •   Target
  •   Average yard dwell time


CMAP analysis of Chicago Transportation Coordination Office data provided by RailInc.

GO TO 2040 context

This indicator is new to ON TO 2050.