Metra, in cooperation with Amtrak and BNSF Railway, today detailed plans to help avoid overcrowded situations on the South Concourse and south platforms of Union Station, where nearly 21,000 riders board trains during the peak period between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“This plan will rely on the assistance of our passengers, and Metra, BNSF and Amtrak would like to thank them in advance for their cooperation in following this plan and the directions of personnel at Union Station,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno.
The plan will be implemented as soon as Metra suspects that peak outbound service could be significantly disrupted on the three lines that use the South Concourse – primarily the BNSF Line but also the SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor lines.
If that happens, Metra, BNSF and Amtrak personnel will restrict access to the South Concourse by controlling the flow of pedestrians so they can only enter that concourse from one location – the wide corridor that connects the concourse to the Great Hall waiting area and Metra ticketing area. The corridor will serve as a loading/staging area where riders can queue until trains are ready to board, keeping the concourse clear so passengers can easily get to and from the train platforms.
If the Great Hall is open (please see Map 1), passengers will be encouraged to wait there. Metra will provide updates to riders with public address system announcements supplemented by staff members with bullhorns among the waiting passengers.
Access to the South Concourse will primarily be controlled by closing the escalators/stairs that feed the concourse from the food court level. Passengers who use the Union Station entrance at Jackson and the Chicago River will have to walk north, use the escalators/stairs that feed the North Concourse and double back south past the Metra ticket area to the loading/staging area.
Riders who enter Union Station from Clinton/Adams and Clinton/Jackson will have to walk through the Great Hall to get to the staging area. If the Great Hall is closed, passengers will have to use a different entrance/path to the staging area, as shown on Map 2 of the flyer.
In the event of a disruption that is only affecting BNSF trains, SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor passengers will be allowed to enter the South Concourse via the hallway that connects the South and North Concourses to the Amtrak ticket area, as shown on Map 3 of the flyer. BNSF riders will be directed to the staging area.