CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra has installed eight new wind gauges along three of its commuter rail lines, hoping to minimize delays during severe storms.
WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports the devices, called anemometers, have been installed on the Union Pacific/North, UP/Northwest, and UP/West lines.
Union Pacific rules require trains operated by UP to stop when there are extreme winds. Without the gauges, trains have to stop whenever there are powerful winds anywhere in the greater Chicagoland area, not just along a specific line.
“When you’re sitting on a train, and you’ve had a horrible storm go through, but then the sun is shining, and your train is still stopped, you’re questioning why,” Reile said.
Comlinks connect the gauges to Union Pacific dispatchers in Omaha to let them know when high winds have passed in a specific area, so trains can move again when high winds have died down in the immediate vicinity of a train.
“When a severe storm comes through in the summertime, while your train may be stopped, we’re going to put a stop to the two-hour delays, and perhaps go down to 30 minutes,” she said.
Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said three wind gauges previously installed on the BNSF Railway line already have proven their worth.
She said, the Friday before Labor Day last year, all trains on the three UP lines were forced to stop because of a severe storm, but trains on the BNSF Railway were able to take advantage of the wind gauges along that line.
“They did not have to institute a system-wide stop on their line, and they only experienced minor delays because of the weather, whereas in the case of the UP, because they did not have these devices, the delays were up to two hours for some of our passengers,” Reile said.
The eight new anemometers cost Metra approximately $25,000 each.