Metra would like to apologize for ongoing delays you have experienced on the Heritage Corridor line. We are aware that our on-time performance of late has not been meeting your expectations and our own standards, and we know the delays on Monday, Dec. 12, were particularly exasperating. We want to assure you that we regard this issue as an urgent matter. We are doing everything we can to resolve the problems on the line and improve its reliability.
To understand what happened this week, you must know that Metra does not own or control the tracks on which the Heritage Corridor operates. Instead, they are owned by CN. Many of the delays in the past four months were caused by disruptive but necessary track reconstruction that CN is carrying out on the line. CN assures us that this work will be complete by the end of the year.
On Monday night, one of the machines being used to carry out that track work derailed on the south side of Chicago, blocking both sets of tracks used by the Heritage Corridor line. The problem was then greatly magnified by the fact that CN did not notify us about the derailment. We were unable to contact the CN work crew or CN management in a timely manner to learn the extent of the problem and get an estimate for how long it would take to resolve.
On Tuesday morning, the Heritage Corridor line again experienced delays, this time due to signal problems that did not become apparent until our first train began operating.
Metra’s senior management is currently working with CN to address these issues, particularly the lack of communication on Monday night. We are communicating daily that recent problems require their full attention and are of the highest priority. In addition, we are also in constant communication with other high-volume freight railroads whose tracks intersect with the Heritage Corridor line. We must rely on the cooperation of those other railroads to reduce freight interference with our trains, because neither CN nor Metra controls those crossings.
While there are a number of factors on the Heritage Corridor line that are beyond Metra’s control, we are doing what we can to eliminate and minimize delays. We are committed to improving the Heritage Corridor’s on-time performance.
In an effort to resolve longstanding on-time performance issues, we will be asking for a meeting with the highest level of management at CN. Through this meeting the CEO of Metra hopes to obtain a stronger commitment from CN relative to commuter train operations.
Thank you for your patience. We will periodically update you about our efforts and our progress. Please sign up for a My Metra account at www.metrarail.com to receive email updates about service disruptions.