“Examining the Surface Transportation Board’s Role in Ensuring a Robust Passenger Rail System” was the topic of a virtual Nov. 18 hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
Chicago’s Metra commuter rail agency is moving its Board-approved $700 million operating budget and $386.8 million capital program for 2021 to the Regional Transportation Authority for final approval. RTA’s Board will review them as part of a consolidated budget for the area’s public transit systems, including Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace Suburban Bus.
Metra has filed a lawsuit against Union Pacific (UP), which operates several of its commuter rail lines, for breach of contract in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court.
Union Pacific has resumed ticket sales along the Metra lines it operates under contract (UP North, Northwest and West) and is requiring riders to show valid tickets as they board outbound trains or arrive at the Ogilvie Transportation Center (OTC) in Chicago.
Amtrak and Metra have begun work on a combined $29 million construction project to upgrade the Homewood, Ill., passenger rail station. It is slated for completion in spring 2022.
Chicago’s Metra commuter rail agency on July 21 asked the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent Union Pacific from “taking planned steps that would degrade or halt” commuter rail service on the three lines—UP North, UP Northwest and UP West—the Class I railroad operates and maintains equipment under contract. Separately, Metra also asked the STB to rule on whether UP has a legal common-carrier obligation to provide commuter service. “UP maintains that it has no such obligation,” Metra said, adding that it “strongly disagrees” with UP’s position and that “settling that dispute is critical to determining how service will continue to operate on the lines and, more important, what it will cost the public.”
The Metra Board of Directors recently approved a $15.5 million contract for Railhead Corp. to install cameras inside the commuter railroad’s passenger cars.
Metra announced a record-breaking capital investment over the next five years. The financial boost comes with no increase in train fares.
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Metra on March 20 issued a request for proposals (RFP) for at least 200 new locomotive-hauled railcars, and the Chicago-area commuter railroad is allowing manufacturers to propose alternative designs that could reduce delays and suit Metra’s needs better than its bi-level gallery cars, some of which have been in service upwards of 70 years.