Metra’s perfomance in bitter cold hot topic in hearings

A few Metra trains ran 10 to 20 minutes late during the frigid morning rush.

But the agency’s performance during this harsh winter has been a hot topic at a couple hearings so far this week.

New CEO Don Orseno answered questions and criticisms from members of the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee Monday morning.  During the evening he appeared at a public meeting in Naperville to explain how Metra is working to keep the trains running in sub zero temperatures and snow storms.

This morning before dawn, our WGN camera crew shot video of fires set to warm the rails and switches of Metra’s now notorious A-2 interlocker system.

Seven of the agency’s 11 rail lines run through the west side bottleneck and its equipment, some of which dates back to the 1930’s.

Orseno says such antiquated hardware makes some delays inevitable in severe weather conditions like last month’s “Polar Vortex” which caused numerous train cancellations and left some riders stranded on freezing platforms.

He pledged that Metra will work to improve its communications and response systems to avoid a recurrence of such dangerous situations.

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