The below-freezing temperatures have caused major problems and delays for Metra for a fourth straight day.
By 7:30 a.m., three trains on Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe line were canceled and all other trains on that line were facing delays of up to 20 minutes due to switching problems and other mechanical issues.
The Union Pacific Northwest line and Union Pacific West line also had delays Thursday morning.
More than 20 trains were canceled Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Commuters also experienced significant delays at Union Station Wednesday night.
Metra says the problems are related to frozen switches and signals. Compounding the problem were federal regulations that restrict how long train crews, dispatchers and signal employees may work without a rest. With long delays, some crews were not longer able to staff trains.
Metra officials say they will keep an eye on the potential for freezing rain over the next several days.
The rain could affect Metra’s electric train lines by coating overhead wires that transmit power to the trains.
Amtrak is also struggling with delayed and canceled trains. Several trains to and from Chicago have been canceled since Monday due to snowdrifts and ice on the tracks.
Wednesday night, hundreds of passengers packed the Amtrak passenger area at Union Station waiting for trains to depart.
Amtrak and Metra remind passengers to check their web sites for the latest information on delays and cancellations.