Tension Evident Between Metra, Amtrak At Rail Hearing

Craig Dellimore
April 16, 2019 - 4:40 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Bob Roberts

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A hearing Tuesday on problems for Metra riders and Union Station highlighted some ongoing tensions between Metra and Amtrak, which owns and runs the terminal.

At a hearing chaired by Chicago Congressman Dan Lipinski, Amtrak Government Affairs Director Ray Lang explained that the massive rush-hour service outage for trains in and out of Union Station Feb. 28 was due to human error during a signal-related upgrade.

Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said such situations could be avoided or at least resolved more quickly if his agency ran things. He said Metra has more personnel than Amtrak, and the Feb. 28 meltdown required people on the ground to manually control the trains. 

Amtrak’s Lang said his passenger railroad is "not interested" in giving up control of the station or the dispatching of trains. 

Metra runs 90 percent of the trains in and out of the station. Lang said it's not unusual that Amtrak is a minority user of the properties it owns. 

Both rail officials promised cooperation to prevent further problems and to improve services for passengers.