Metra Rock Island Schedule Changes Go Into Effect Jan. 28

Bernie Tafoya
January 10, 2019 - 1:55 pm
Metra Rail Car

Metra Rail Car (WBBM Newsradio/Bob Roberts)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Metra said a new Rock Island line schedule will begin Jan. 28 after taking into account input from hundreds of riders.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the new schedule is not expected to leave commuters as irate about service as the new Burlington Northern schedule did last spring.

Schedule changes were required on both lines after Metra instituted a new safety feature on each of the lines. It's called Positive Train Control, PTC, and it's designed to prevent crashes by having automation take over control of a train if an engineer, for instance, is going too fast.

The way PTC operates, it requires extra time to "flip" a train, having it go back in the other direction. 

Gillis said Metra will be watching the performance of the new schedule very closely for one or two months.

"We’re calling it a trial basis just to see if there are further adjustments that might be necessary," he said.  

He said Metra proposed a new Rock Island schedule last year and that about 800 riders offered input on it and Metra tweaked that proposed schedule.  For instance, he said, "There’s a train that leaves LaSalle Street in the afternoon right now at 3:45 p.m. We had proposed moving it up to 3:30 p.m. but we heard from a lot of customers who said that was too early." 

The train will still head southbound at 3:45 p.m. under the new schedule, as well. 

Another reason Gillis does not expect the same issues as the Burlington Northern schedule has, is that the Burlington Northern line has almost twice as many riders as the Rock Island line does. The Burlington Northern has about 26,000 daily riders while the Rock Island has about 13,500 riders daily.