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A Message from Alex Clifford

(June 7, 2011) - 
Dear Passengers,
Metra would like to apologize to all passengers who use the South Concourse of Union Station for the delays and crowded conditions that occurred Friday. We know many passengers were left frustrated and confused and we would like to explain what happened. Metra’s passenger safety and satisfaction are our top priorities, and on Friday the entire agency was working with those goals in mind.
As you know, an Amtrak train and a Metra BNSF train were involved in a collision Friday morning, an accident whose cause is under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration. The collision disrupted all service into the south end of Union Station; several Metra trains were backed up on the approach to the station waiting to discharge passengers. We worked as hard and as quickly as we could to get those passengers off those trains safely and on their way to work. Passengers from one train were dropped off in our 14th St. yard while others were let off just shy of Union Station. Others were brought in to CUS once we were able to start using two tracks. We thank everyone for their patience, understanding and cooperation as we evacuated those trains.
Throughout the day we were working with the FRA, Amtrak and BNSF to restore normal service for the afternoon rush. However, two developments disrupted our plans. The first is that the BNSF train involved in the accident could not clear a signal bridge on the way to the BNSF storage yard at 14th St., due to the damage it sustained in the accident. The damaged train was positioned in a location that blocked traffic coming out of the yard, hindering BNSF’s ability to send trains to Union Station.
At about the time that problem was resolved, the FRA ordered the South Concourse shut down to all incoming and outgoing trains so it could complete its tests on the signals and switches at Union Station. The FRA needed to make sure the systems were operating safety and normally before it would allow train traffic to resume. When that happened, sometime around 4 p.m., we hurried to send trains into Union Station as quickly as we could.
I appreciate the comments and suggestions many of you gave me Friday afternoon as we stood on the concourse at CUS. You, the customer, are the most important part of Metra and we are always trying to improve your safety and satisfaction. If you are not already, I encourage all Metra customers to sign up for our email alerts and Twitter posts, and of course check our website for the latest information.
Again, I thank you for your patience and understanding during a hectic Friday morning and afternoon.
Alex Clifford
Executive Director/CEO
You can now follow me on Twitter @MetraCEO
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