Aside from its long-distance trains the Chicago & North Western Railway also operated a number of commuter rail operations, particularly around the Chicago and Milwaukee regions. To accomplish this it used bi-level cars and was one of the first to implement the “push-pull” method of commuter operations to save both time and money. It would, eventually, however, rid itself of even this and turn the commuter operations over to local and state governments. The C&NW’s fleet of 400s were never famous trains known across the country, like perhaps the Broadway Limited or Super Chief. However, they were legendary in the local region they served, from Chicago to Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Dakotas. What transpired into the first, and perhaps most famous train in the 400 fleet, the Twin Cities 400, started out as simply the 400 in 1935.
The train was said to be able to travel between Chicago and Minneapolis
(roughly a distance of 400 miles) in around 400 minutes traveling just over 400 miles in the process, hence its
name. While the former may statement be slightly a bit of a stretch the train was very fast
and proved to be quite successful, particularly for commuters. The
train itself featured modest, but very classy and tasteful interior designs (including lounges and parlor cars)
and when it was streamlined in 1939 in a handsome livery of bright
yellow and green (a paint scheme that would become the trademark of the
'North Western) was renamed the Twin Cities 400.
Powered by Electro-Motive diesels notably E7s and E8s in later years, the original 400 featured a tavern-lunch-lounge car, diner, parlor (with available drawing rooms), coaches, and observation parlor/lounge/bar. Considering that the original train was supposed to make the trek between Chicago and Minneapolis in less than seven hours, obviously sleeper service was unnecessary. However, the other services helped to make the train a regional success. Thanks to the dayliners strong ridership the 'North Western worked to a launch a fleet of "400s." Some of those are mentioned above while others included the Kate Shelley "400" (a latecomer serving the C&NW's Omaha main line after the Union Pacific switched its City fleet to competitor Milwaukee Road in reaching Chicago), Shoreland "400", and Valley "400".
(The below Twin Cities "400" timetable is dated effective April 27, 1941. For additional consist and timetable information please click here.)
|Read Down Time/Leave (Train #401)
Time/Arrive (Train #400)
|3:00 PM (Dp)||0.0||Chicago, IL (North Western Station)||9:15 PM (Ar)|
|3:12 PM||12.0||Evanston, IL||9:00 PM|
|F 3:51 PM||61.9||Racine, WI|
|4:15 PM||85.0||Milwaukee, WI||8:00 PM (Dp), 7:55 PM (Ar)|
|5:12 PM||148.0||South Beaver Dam, WI||7:00 PM|
|6:09 PM||209.5||Adams, WI||6:09 PM|
|6:38 PM||238.9||Wyeville, WI||5:37 PM|
|7:50 PM||323.1||Eau Claire, WI||4:24 PM|
|9:15 PM||408.6||St. Paul, MN||3:00 PM|
|9:45 PM (Ar)||419.2||Minneapolis, MN||2:30 PM (Dp)|
While successful, the streamliner served a region stiff in competition from other railroads, such as the Milwaukee Road’s Twin Cities Hiawatha, a very fast and famous train into itself. In the end, the Chicago & North Western Railway,
never a large railroad anyway, decided to devote its resources
elsewhere and threw in the towel to the Milwaukee discontinuing the Twin Cities 400 in 1963, only 28 years after it was inaugurated. Today, while none of the original routes of the C&NW’s 400
fleet are used today you can still ride on much of the railroad’s
commuter lines in the greater Chicago area, under the direction and management of Metra.
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