Schedule changes are coming to the
Metra Electric Line and it’s being driven by the demands the new federally
mandated Positive Train Control safety system, or PTC. PTC will automatically
stop a train if the engineer fails to obey a signal or exceed the speed limit.
Here is why it will impact schedules: To handle as many passengers as it does in every morning rush period Metra must quickly turn trains around a Millennium
Station and send them back out to make more inbound trips. The same goes for the evening rush period as trains complete their trips to the suburbs and turn back
to pick up more customers downtown. We call this process flipping a train, and it
will take longer because of PTC. Our current schedules depend on our crews being able to flip a train in less than 10 minutes. Under PTC, the engineer now
must also initialize the PTC system before each unique train trip. This is a multi-step process that is required for the PTC system to function and adds to
the time needed between flips, making a 10-minute or less flip impossible.
Because of the extra time required to initialize PTC, and because of the
limited number of tracks at Millenium Station, it will no longer be possible to operate the same number of trains during rush hour. So, Metra needed to develop a new schedule. But, we in the transportation
department at Metra looked at the impending schedule changes as an
opportunity to optimize service across the line. We are proposing to take the
current schedule, which in rush hour divides the suburban part of the Metra
Electric Line into trains serving three groups of stations, and instead divide it
into two groups: Kensington/115th to Homewood and Homewood to University Park.
Many trains will make more stops and train runs will take slightly longer but
maintain a similar level of service. The capacity of trains will be adjusted to
account for additional riders. Some other notable changes include changing a South
Chicago outbound rush-hour train into an express and improving South Chicago
branch service during off-peak times. All Blue Island trains will become local,
meaning there will be more station stops the city of Chicago stations along the
main line. But, to continue providing express service the Blue Island riders,
all Blue Island trains departing between 5:55 and 8 a.m. will have direct
transfers to inbound suburban express trains at Kensington/115. This service
pattern will also be duplicated on outbound rush-hour trains in the evening.
Also, a midday outbound suburban express train will be added.
Lastly, morning and evening rush hour suburban trains will only stop at 55th
Street Station in Hyde Park as a way of standardizing the suburban service
stopping pattern. South Chicago and Blue Island trains will continue to stop at
all Hyde Park stations except the new South Chicago Express mentioned earlier.
We understand these changes may be an inconvenience to riders but we have taken
and will continue to take steps to limit the inconvenience as much as possible.
Now we’re asking for your help. Metra is currently accepting feedback on the
schedule changes. We encourage you to review the changes, look over the new
schedule, and share your thoughts. Find all the links you need in the
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