Posts Tagged ‘Metra’

Chicago Metra doors open at 34 mph

The doors of a packed Metra BNSF train opened while going 34 mph, reported the Chicago Sun-Times. No one was hurt and the doors quickly closed after an estimated three seconds.

SMART TD Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy told the Sun-Times that when engineers are pulling out of a station, they’re focused on the track ahead and a door light can easily be overlooked.

Click here to read more from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Metra conductor not a simple ticket taker

metra_logoDon’t joke with Metra Assistant Conductor Don Kiesgen that all he does is “take tickets and open doors.”

It’s nothing he hasn’t heard from his family already.

Sure, the Metra veteran handles those two jobs.

There’s also throwing switches, testing the air brakes, announcing stops, coupling cars, hoisting luggage, filling out paperwork, monitoring rowdy teens, making sure Train 2115 goes 10 mph at the Grayslake crossover, collecting trains from the yard and verifying foreman Rob McFarlin’s work crew isn’t on the tracks.

Read more from Daily Herald.

Conductors Don Kiesgen and David Lorentz are members of Local 281 in Milwaukee.

Metra to spend $80 million to launch PTC system

metra_logoMetra’s board on Wednesday approved two large contracts, including one for $80 million to help implement a high-tech safety system that federal officials said would have prevented two Chicago derailments that killed two people and injured scores of passengers.

The other contract, for $707,000, was awarded to a consulting firm that will advise Metra on strategic planning, including evaluating possible new service and stations.

Read the complete story at the Chicago Tribune.

Metra, railroads push project to untangle rail corridor

Metra and freight railroad industry representatives on Friday called for a $1 billion project intended to untangle a snarl of railroad tracks that causes major problems for Chicago commuters and commerce.

The project, known as the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, would target three rail-to-rail crossings on the South Side that officials call significant choke points for Metra and freight trains.

Read the complete story at the Chicago Tribune.

Opinion: Metra engineers, conductors do a great job

metra_logoThe following letter to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times by Martin Oberman, chairman of the Metra Board of Directors, was published by the newspaper Nov. 23. It was in response to an article previously published by the newspaper that implied that Metra conductors and engineers were overpaid.

The Chicago Sun-Times, without any evidence, insinuates that Metra engineers and conductors are overpaid because we use a century-old pay structure that other commuter railroads no longer use [“Money Train,” Nov. 12].

You demean these employees by portraying them as members of some exclusive club — never mind that they work very long hours, never mind that their pay is commensurate with the industry, never mind that they are responsible for the safe operation of trains carrying up to 1,500 riders, and never mind that cutting the overtime pay of these workers (who for the most part are paid straight time for overtime, not time and a half) would end up costing Metra even more money.

Read the complete story at the Chicago Sun-Times.

FRA gives findings from Metra safety assessment

FRA_logo_wordsWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced the findings and recommendations from its focused safety assessment of Chicago’s Metra. The assessment finds Metra to be generally compliant with federal safety regulations, but also directs the commuter railroad to take immediate steps to enhance its safety culture, which is an area of concern, and to better utilize safety technology.

“Safety is our highest priority and after three serious safety incidents on Metra within a seven day period, we proactively intervened,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Our safety assessment identifies specific actions Metra should take to address risks to improve the safety of all passengers.”

FRA identified and prioritized specific safety concerns and actions Metra should take to mitigate them:

  • Empower conductors to prioritize the safety of operations over collecting fares, on-time performance and customer service;
  • Ensure heightened crew interactions during higher risk operations;
  • Establish new procedures to strengthen the flow of information between operating lines and Metra headquarters;
  • Add technical skills training for managers;
  • Add safety measures and procedures that would provide a level of safety redundancy to protect crossover movements;
  • Implement a Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS); and
  • Immediately prioritize the acquisition, testing and installation of Positive Train Control

(PTC) systems that monitor and control train movements to provide increased safety.

“Continuous safety improvement must be the goal of every railroad,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “The roadmap we’ve laid out for Metra today is an opportunity for them to renew their commitment to safety and win back the faith of the traveling public.”

FRA announced the launch of the safety assessment on June 6, 2014 after three serious incidents occurred between May 27, 2014, and June 3, 2014, that resulted in the decertification of three Metra locomotive engineers. Review the entire report on Metra. Read our original announcement of the Metra Safety Assessment.

FRA’s strategy for continuous safety improvement is founded on three pillars: a rigorous oversight and inspection program based on strategic use of data; advancing proactive approaches for early identification and mitigation of risk; and capital investments and a robust research and development program.

 

Illinois, UP announce Metra improvements

metra_logoBELLWOOD, Ill. — Governor Pat Quinn June 27 was joined by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Union Pacific Railroad President and COO Lance Fritz to announce that the Union Pacific (UP) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are making a significant investment in Metra’s West Line.

Each will invest $45 million for the construction of a new third main line track on the UP/Metra’s West Line, from River Forest to Melrose Park and then from West Chicago to Geneva. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.

Read the complete story at eNews Park Forest.

Federal Metra investigation begins after complaints

metra_logoCHICAGO (WLS) — A federal investigation into Metra’s operations has begun following three separate complaints that have raised red flags about safety.

Those three incidents happened within days of each other, one of them occurring a little bit south of the 35th Street station. The train was apparently speeding.

It happened last Monday morning on an inbound Rock Island train.

“Everyone screamed on the train when it was going so fast. It leaned and scared everyone,” said Metra rider Pat Boskey.

Read the complete story at ABC7 Eyewitness News.

Metra Members Approve Seven-Year Deal

metra_logoWith 85 percent of eligible ballots returned, SMART Transportation Division conductors and assistant conductors on the Northern Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (known as Metra) have approved a seven-year mediation agreement governing wages and working conditions, through calendar year 2018.

Included in the agreement are lump-sum signing bonuses, general wage increases each year of the contract, retroactive pay, enhanced deferred compensation, conductor certification pay for assignments paying the conductor rate of pay, a new training/qualifying understanding, a modified short term disability plan and seniority retention provisions.

SMART Transportation Division Vice President John E. Lesniewski and SMART International Representative John Babler, who assisted with negotiations, commended GO 721 General Chairperson Barry Abbott for his “persistent and systematic attentiveness to the needs of our membership on his property.” In turn, Abbott offered his thanks to Lesniewski and Babler for “bringing a wealth of experience and an enduring commitment to the bargaining table. This was truly a team effort,” he said.

Metra is the commuter rail division of the Illinois Regional Transportation Authority. The system serves Chicago and its metropolitan area through 241 stations on 11 different rail lines.

Metra members approve seven-year deal

metra_logoWith 85 percent of eligible ballots returned, SMART Transportation Division conductors and assistant conductors on the Northern Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (known as Metra) have approved a seven-year mediation agreement governing wages and working conditions, through calendar year 2018.

Included in the agreement are lump-sum signing bonuses, general wage increases each year of the contract, retroactive pay, enhanced deferred compensation, conductor certification pay for assignments paying the conductor rate of pay, a new training/qualifying understanding, a modified short term disability plan and seniority retention provisions.

SMART Transportation Division Vice President John E. Lesniewski and SMART International Representative John Babler, who assisted with negotiations, commended GO 721 General Chairperson Barry Abbott for his “persistent and systematic attentiveness to the needs of our membership on his property.” In turn, Abbott offered his thanks to Lesniewski and Babler for “bringing a wealth of experience and an enduring commitment to the bargaining table. This was truly a team effort,” he said.

Metra is the commuter rail division of the Illinois Regional Transportation Authority. The system serves Chicago and its metropolitan area through 241 stations on 11 different rail lines.

Conductor ‘makes every day a good day’

Gordon Bowe doesn’t become personal friends with all of his passengers.

But after more than three decades of walking the aisles as a conductor on Metra trains to and from Chicago, Bowe, known by many as “Gordo,” has come to know those who ride the trains from Elburn through La Fox and Geneva, sometimes more than they may know.

Read the full story at Kane County Chronicle.

 

Cubs not alone with problems in Chicago

CHICAGO — Newspapers and television and radio stations here June 14 were asking Union Pacific, “Is this any way to run a railroad?” after a shortage of UP engineers caused the cancellation of six morning Metra commuter trains and inconvenienced thousands of passengers trying to reach their jobs here.

Metra pays UP to operate and staff the Metra trains on its west suburban line.

The Chicago Tribune reported that “half a dozen engineers were allowed to take vacation simultaneously, and another called in sick.” Additional engineers qualified to operate the commuter trains and called by UP had already exceeded their hours-of-service following signal maintenance delays Sunday and could not report for work.

Metra’s CEO told the Chicago Tribune the fault was with UP and its “poor manpower planning.”

A UP spokesman responded, “We are looking at our crew management team to find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

DePaul University Transportation Professor Joseph Schwieterman, who has written extensively on railroads, told the Chicago Tribune, “This is something we expect with an airline, but not with a railroad. The lesson is, UP needs to have better contingency plans.”