CHICAGO (CBS) — Monday proved to be a frustrating day for Metra commuters. Passengers waited for a BNSF train that was stopped due to a mechanical failure.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports it is so far, so good for Metra commuters travelling during rush hour.
The head of Metra said he is offering solutions to recent problems surrounding Metra trains, asking commuters to be patient.
The platform for the BNSF line between Aurora and Naperville was packed Monday morning, causing delays across the system. A locomotive broke down in the latest of a string of delays this summer.
“When you walk into the station and you’re set to go home and you think it’s going to be an easy commute, but there’s mobs and mobs of people,” described Jonathan Hagloch, a Metra commuter, recalling the train station commotion Monday morning. “I’m tired of delays.”
Throughout the summer months, Metra trains have had numerous problems, including those caused by mechanical failures, revised schedules, broken air conditioners, a tornado warning that turned out to be wrong, and a new system called PTC that is designed to make train travel safer.
“What we’re doing now is working with the industry to see if there’s some software to make it more reliable,” said Metra’s CEO, James Derwinski.
When asked how he answers to commuters who are frustrated by the delays, Derwinski responded: “We will eventually know what happens. We run the oldest fleet in the country.” He said upgrading the fleet is a primary goal, but money is an issue. “One of the things we did do recently is purchase 21 locomotives out of California. We actually have two locomotive rehab programs right now.”
Industry experts estimate Metra needs $1.2 billion in its capitol budget to replace trains, update stations, and replace bridges. It only has $200 million. Officials have warned commuters of cuts to the service, however, Derwinski is promising he will find the money if safety is a concern.
“If it ever got to the point that we had any concern about operating that rail line, that car, that bridge, that locomotive – we would take it off line and make the necessary repairs,” Derwinski stated.
He said he is seeking new software to address the delays caused by the new safety system.