Olsen Working with Metra on Service Reliability Issues

State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) is working with officials from Metra to address service reliability issues along the BNSF rail line, which transports thousands of 81st House District residents to and from work every day.

“I hear almost daily from constituents who are paying higher fares this year for a lower quality of Metra rail service,” said Olsen. “Delays have become the norm rather than the exception, and for those who rely on Metra to get them to and from work, frustration is extremely high.”

In a February 15 letter to Metra Chairman Norman Carlson, Olsen expressed his concerns about regular service disruptions at the Downers Grove Main Street, Belmont and Fairview Avenue train stations, as well as at the Naperville, Lisle and Westmont stations which are also widely used by residents of the 81st District. In the letter, Olsen asked Carlson to specifically respond to the following questions:
  • Why have there been significant delays on the Metra BNSF line in recent months?
  • What is Metra doing to restore service reliability on the BNSF line in the near term?
  • What long term plans does Metra have to improve service reliability?
  • What steps can the General Assembly take to improve Metra service?
You can read Olsen’s letter here.

Carlson responded on February 23 with answers to Olsen’s questions. He pointed to ice, snow and the use of road salt as contributing factors, and said freight trains, which also use the lines, cause some additional delays. Carlson added that many delays are the result of mechanical problems such as locomotive failure or broken hoses, and that because the BNSF line has an intricate infrastructure which allows for more frequent trains, more express trains and greater interaction with freight trains, there are more opportunities for problems which often have a domino effect on the timing of other trains. However, Metra and BNSF leaders are actively working to address these issues to improve service reliability.

Carlson went on to convey short and long-term solutions to address reliability concerns, and asked Olsen for a face-to-face meeting to continue the conversation. He noted Metra has an outdated and unsustainable funding model which cannot address 21st century capital and maintenance needs for the long term. This funding model must be addressed by the General Assembly. You can read Carlson’s response here.

“I appreciate the speed with which Chairman Carlson responded to my concerns and I look forward to continuing to work with him on solutions that will improve service reliability throughout the BNSF rail line,” Olsen said.

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