Metra Hopes For Smooth Morning Rush After Switch Problems

CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra is hoping for a normal rush hour, one day after a series of problems led to delays for most homebound commuters.

Metra personnel worked through the night, including some of its top mechanical officers, to repair problems at a near northwest side junction that controls service on six Metra lines.

Metra spokesperson Meg Thomas Reile said the biggest problem began at about 3 p.m. Thursday, when a series of switch failures began at a junction, known as the A2 interlocking plant, that serves Metra’s North Central Service, both Milwaukee Districts and all three Union Pacific-operated lines.

Reile said the location and timing was even more critical, because the breakdown also blocked Metra from getting trains out of two nearby storage yards.

A complication delayed North Central trains even longer. Reile said, despite rush-hour prohibitions on the operation of freight trains, Union Pacific dispatched a train more than two miles at the height of the rush.

Some Union Pacific-operated trains were delayed longer than others as trains had difficulty entering Ogilvie Transportation Center. The railroad added stops to certain of its trains to try to address the problem, Reile said, but Metra also had issues with the way Union Pacific was dispatching trains.

A totally separate problem halted service on the Rock Island District Beverly branch for 90 minutes. Reile said that a train struck a tree and wires downed by heavy thunderstorms.

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