For a more comprehensive list, see List of Metra stations
Metra services passengers through stations throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Each station, unless a route or branch terminus, provides travel toward (inbound) and away from (outbound) downtown Chicago. Therefore, a passenger can connect between the city and a suburb or between two points in the suburbs using Metra service. Although Metra's commuter rail system is designed to connect points all over the Chicago metropolitan area, it does provide some intracity connections within Chicago.
In downtown Chicago, Metra trains originate from one of four stations. Six of Metra's eleven lines originate at Union Station. The three Union Pacific lines originate at Ogilvie Transportation Center. The Rock Island District originates at LaSalle Street Station, and the Metra Electric District originates at Millennium Station. All of these stations are situated within walking distance of the Chicago Loop, so Metra passengers may also transfer to a different Metra line upon their arrival downtown. Metra's urban-centric service remains popular with suburban commuters working downtown, reverse commuters, and those who visit Chicago for recreational activities and tourism.
Of Metra's 11 routes, four are operated under contract. The BNSF Line service is operated by BNSF Railway. The lines out of the Ogilvie Transportation Center (formerly Northwestern Station) are operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. Lines not contracted are operated by the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Rail Corporation (NIRC), Metra's operating subsidiary. Inbound trains on every line at all times run through to their Chicago terminus, however, many outbound trains do not run through to their respective lines' terminus (for example, most trains on the Union Pacific/Northwest Line do not run through to Harvard; instead, terminating at Crystal Lake)
Fare is determined by the distance travelled by a passenger. Each station along every route has been placed in a specific zone based on its distance from its respective downtown station. Downtown termini and downtown stations are classified as zone 'A' and each additional zone generally represents an added 5 miles (8.0 km) from the downtown terminus. Multiple stations can be placed in the same zone even though they are on the same line. Fare zones include A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and M. There are no stations in zone L.