Two new weekday trains are coming for Metra BNSF commuters, and more weekend trains are on tap for Rock Island and UP Northwest riders.
Metra plans to schedule a new train during the morning and evening rushes on the BNSF Line to address concerns that resulted from last year’s implementation of positive train control, CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said.
Both trains will be included in a new BNSF Line schedule to be unveiled in June, Derwinski told Metra’s board of directors.
The additional trains “will be a great enhancement” to the BNSF schedule, Derwinski said, adding that the other timetable revisions will be “very minor.”
Metra’s schedule lists 28 BNSF Line trains arriving at Chicago Union Station between 6 a.m. and 9 am., and 22 trains departing between 3 p.m. and 6 pm. The BNSF Line to Aurora carries 64,000 daily riders, the most of Metra’s 11 lines.
In June 2018, Metra revised its schedule for the BNSF line due to the implementation of PTC, the federally mandated technology intended to automatically stop a train to prevent a collision or derailment. The changes were needed because PTC requires more time to “flip,” or prepare for a return trip.
But even though the revised schedule had been announced three months prior, the changes prompted so many overcrowding complaints that Metra was compelled to issue an apology.
Metra also announced Wednesday that…
Metra is having a mea culpa moment. Several of them, actually.
Over a month after a viral video was posted online of a commuter train’s close call with calamity in the south suburbs — and more than two months after the original incident occurred — the agency’s CEO is acknowledging what happened and, more importantly, what went wrong.
During a lengthy accounting to Metra’s board of directors earlier this month and another one last week with the agency’s Citizens’ Advisory Board (yes, dissatisfied riders, there is such a thing, and you can participate!), Executive Director Jim Derwinski somberly explained, in gripping detail, the events of that blustery Nov. 9 morning in Mokena.
Those events have come under scrutiny from the Federal Railroad Administration, which has the power to fine Metra for safety violations and punish personnel when rules are broken.
That video has been viewed more than a million times on Facebook, and at least a million times more on TV newscasts. Taken by a Mokena police officer’s squad car dashcam, the video shows Rock Island Line Train 506 coming thisclose to smashing into the cop’s car at a crossing at 191st Street. The gates and lights had failed to activate. Officer Peter Stanglewicz swerved out of the way just in time. A dark SUV in front barely made it across.
Stanglewicz should be congratulated for his quick reflexes, steel nerves, and, as the audio indicates, self-control…
Is the LaSalle Street Station really Metra’s red-headed stepchild? That’s what one commentator on Trains Magazine’s News Wire called it. Unwanted? Neglected?
That viewpoint might change somewhat starting March 26 when Metra launches a $2.95 million rehab project.
The station was once a famed major terminal for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and New York Central railroads but now is only a bare-bones facility serving Metra commuters. No amenities. Largely unprotected concourse. Hard to find unless you know where to go.
Metra says it will replace the station’s concourse and several pillars, the first major renovation on the facility in decades.
Granite pavers and decorative medallions will be installed on the 20,000-square-foot concourse to replace the less-durable concrete surface and to improve the overall aesthetics, officials said.
The station serves Metra’s Rock Island Line to Joliet. The existing facility, built in 1993, is used by more than 13,000 riders each weekday.
“This is a long-awaited opportunity to improve LaSalle Street Station for our customers,” Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “Other than maintenance projects, it’s been more than 25 years since significant improvements were made to the concourse area.”
Contractors plan to work around the clock to minimize the impact on customers, the agency said. Work will be phased, limiting access to different sections of the concourse and platforms as the renovations progress. The first phase will resurface the east side of the concourse, with work then progressing to the west side and finally, to the platform entrances.
Signage and barricades will be placed…