CHICAGO (CBS) — Commuters count on trains to run on time, or at least close to it, but Metra BNSF line trains weren’t running at all for more than two hours this morning, after a freight train knocked down communication lines across the tracks.
A BNSF Railway freight train knocked down or dragged communication wires near west suburban Cicero around 4 a.m., blocking the tracks also used by Metra’s BNSF Railway line. BNSF officials did not respond to requests for comment on what caused the accident.
Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said it’s unclear how the freight train managed to come into contact with the wires, but he said Metra trains couldn’t move until the wires were removed and the freight train got moving again.
“The train was blocking the tracks, and we just couldn’t move through the area,” he said.
The accident caused a major headache for commuters who use BNSF, which is Metra’s busiest line.
BNSF trains between Aurora and Union Station were delayed up to 2 ½ hours during the morning rush. At least five trains were canceled.
Metra officials advised riders on the BNSF line to use UP West line trains instead.
It was early bird riders who saw the worst delays, as inbound BNSF trains normally start moving through Cicero shortly after 5 a.m.
“Express train leaves at 5:45 in the morning. We were on the tracks until about 7:02. Then we finally started moving,” Mike Moran said.
The wires were cleared from the tracks around 7 a.m., and trains started moving again, but major delays continued throughout the morning.
Delayed riders received late notices from Metra when they finally arrived at Union Station.
“We understand their frustration. We tried to resolve the situation as best we could, but really we couldn’t do anything until BN got that freight train cleared, and moved it out of the way,” Gillis said.
Around 9:30 a.m., Metra said normal service was resuming on the BNSF line.