CHICAGO (STMW) — Metra is apologizing to riders a day after signal problems forced Union Station commuters to experience lengthy delays, crowded conditions and communication issues.

Metra says in a letter to riders of the BNSF, SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor lines that the problems stemmed from the failure of a signal circuit at a critical point where tracks intersect on the south end of Union Station, preventing most trains from entering or leaving.

Amtrak, which owns Union Station and is responsible for maintaining its tracks and signals, started working on the problem shortly after it developed about 4:20 p.m. Monday, Metra said.

Signal problems can usually be fixed quickly and the transit agency said there was no reason to believe this situation would be any different. Instead, repairs took up to 42 minutes during an extremely busy period of the evening rush — 4:45-6:30 p.m.

The delays prompted commuters to take to Twitter, complaining about “bad stuff going down at Union Station” and “hundreds of people standing around.”

The agency says attempts were made to inform riders of the situation using station announcements, e-alerts and its website. “But we know the situation was frustrating and some information was confusing, and we are sorry,” Metra said in the letter.

Metra and BNSF are working with Amtrak in an effort to eliminate or at least limit the number of signal and switch issues at Union Station, and to ensure such problems are prevented in the future, the letter said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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