CHICAGO (CBS) — Trains were moving along smoothly Friday morning on the South Shore Line, a day after some serious trouble on the track left thousands of passengers stranded due to icy conditions.
Ice on overhead electric lines stopped several trains literally in their tracks Thursday morning, leaving more than 5,000 passengers going nowhere fast. Riders trying to get into the city found themselves sitting on trains for six or seven hours.
Eventually, a decision was made to return them to their originating stations, and even then it was taking hours to get them back to where they started.
South Shore workers tried to chip away at the that coated rails and the overhead electric lines powering trains, but the first ice storm of 2017 proved to be too much. A massive diesel engine was brought in, but it still took many hours before the ice was successfully cleared away.
By then, thousands of people had packed into trains, where there was little if any standing room. Commuters on some trains said they were packed in like sardines.
“It was pretty brutal, and we couldn’t get anywhere, and we were stuck on the tracks. Kind of like being in a packed elevator, shoulder-to-shoulder, and we were like that for about 5 or 6 hours,” John Furbee said. “This train’s late about at least once a week, you know, and I think the ice and stuff just put the extra stress on it enough to make the weaker link break I guess.”
It wasn’t until Thursday evening that limited service was able to resume.
Normal service on the South Shore Line resumed Friday morning, and trains were running on time during the morning commute.
Barbara Parker said her train repeatedly tried to climb a hill on Thursday, only to be beaten back by the ice-covered rails and overhead power lines.
“It took four tries, they didn’t make it. Finally, they made it out through the fourth try, and then we lost power. So I was on the train for approximately 5 ½ to 6 hours standing,” she said. “I was not happy, but we made it.”
One man said he has been taking the South Shore Line regularly for nearly 30 years, and Thursday’s delay was the worst he had ever seen.