Metra BNSF riders voice concerns over train issues, delays

WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill. — Metra riders voiced their concerns about the BNSF line after a summer of delays, overcrowding and air conditioning breakdowns.

A meeting was held in Western Springs at McClure Middle School Monday evening for commuters to share their complaints about the southwest suburban rail line.

BNSF has had a problem unique to itself because a piece of technology, a new system put into place in June meant to increase the frequency of trains, has actually slowed them down.

Since late spring, the busy BNSF line, which carries nearly a quarter of all Metra passengers, became plagued by mounting delays.

Metra’s goal is to be 95 percent on time. But since June, those numbers have hovered in the low 90s, which represents thousands of delayed commuters from Chicago to Aurora.

“There no better way to go when it’s working well, unfortunately throughout this entire year, Metra BNSF has failed all too often," Rep. Dan Lipinksi (D-Illinois), said.

Lipinksi called the meeting to put pressure on Metra and BNSF, which owns the rail. They said much of the problem is from the positive train control, or PTC system, put in place on the line in June. It was meant to allow better train flow, but it’s had problems.

"We brought in people from the system to help make things better, and we’ve actually made some progress," D.J. Mitchell, BNSF, said.

The progress they said has been instrumental in making the rail line for BNSF run much faster. Reporting so far this month, trains are running at nearly 97 percent on time.

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