Updated 04/17/12 – 9:03 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — South Shore Line and Metra Electric trains will not be shut down around McCormick Place during next month’s NATO summit.
The Secret Service announced Tuesday that those trains would continue to run on May 19 and 20, even though those commuter rail lines run underneath McCormick Place, where the summit will be held.
“The Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department, our partner in developing and implementing the overall NATO Summit security plan, have worked tirelessly with our federal, state and local law enforcement and public safety partners to devise a plan that will allow commuter trains to run during the summit without compromising security,” said Frank Benedetto, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service’s Chicago Field Office.
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While commuter lines will operate, passengers should plan for some delays as trains approach and pass through the McCormick Place stop due to security measures, the Secret Service said in a statement. Additional information on possible delays and individual station closures will be released in the coming weeks.
Officials were staying quiet about possible changes to train schedules, but you can expect delays.
The tracks for both lines run right under McCormick Place, where world leaders will gather for the NATO summit on May 19 and 20.
“I just thought they wouldn’t want trains going underneath McCormick Place,” South Shore rider John Beatty said.
The Secret Service said the decision is part of a comprehensive security plan for the summit, and intended to minimize commuters’ headaches and hassles.
If the two lines had been shut down around McCormick Place, Metra and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District would have needed to run shuttle buses to help get their passengers where they needed to go.
DePaul University transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said, “We’re seeing some common sense here, that the mobility of the city’s not going to be impaired. When you start cancelling Metra routes, buses just can’t handle it without long delays.”
Although there have been no specifics yet, both the Metra Electric and South Shore lines will likely see some schedule changes, and other restrictions during the summit.
“During the coming and going of the diplomats, I suspect they will simply stop the trains, and allow them to enter and be in a secure spot before they allow them (trains) through again,” said terrorism expert Tom Mockaitis.
He also said Chicagoans shouldn’t expect more security details from the Secret Service until right before the summit – not only with regard to Metra and the South Shore line, but CTA buses and trains as well.
The less instigators know about security plans, the better, Mockaitis said.
Some commuters said those details don’t even matter.
Metra Electric rider Jeannie Smith said she doesn’t work the days of the summit, but would have considered working from home if she did.
A comprehensive plan detailing additional transportation and security restrictions will be released prior to the summit, which is about a month away.
Chicago NATO Summit Map