CHICAGO (CBS) — Delays on Metra and Amtrak lines are growing, not to mention the freight hauled to and through the Chicago area by rail. A blue ribbon panel commissioned by Amtrak believes it has the answers — but they won’t come cheap.
The delays riders see and experience are just the tip of the iceberg, said former Macomb Mayor Tom Carper, a member of the Amtrak board, and a member of the panel. He compared it to a $650-800 billion tax on Americans, because of the delays encountered today — costs which shippers and manufacturers are all too happy to pass along to consumers.
Howard Learner, president of Chicago’s Environmental Law and Policy Center, said the problems can best be described this way: If each airline at O’Hare International Airport had its own traffic controllers, the result would be chaos.
“Would anybody think that’s a good idea?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”
Learner said that effectively is what the nation’s major railroads are doing, because the trains creating the delays are dispatched from railroad-owned control centers hundreds of miles away, in places such as Omaha and Fort Worth. He said it makes no sense.
Asked how serious he believes the situation has become, he said, “Chicago is not much further than a bad snowstorm away from a meltdown of the system.”