Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by F40CFan
 
Metra really needs to improve its communications to passengers, especially during service delays. The canned reasons just don't cut it.

Last Wednesday, July 6, inbound MILW-West train 2220 didn't show up in Wood Dale at the scheduled time.

Numerous announcements were made both vocally and on the message board that outbound train 2205 was 10 minutes late. There was one person on the outbound platform and from his bored look I don't think he cared much.

Finally, a "male voice" station announcement was made stating that train 2220 would be 15 minutes late "due to late turn of equipment".

15 minutes passed.

A "female voice" made an announcement that train 2220 had a mechanical failure and was running 25 minutes late.

There was also an announcement that train 2222 was going to run through and to stand back. God forbid it might stop and pick us up.

About that time, a westbound went flying through led by 211 with 8505 bringing up the markers. I figured they were sending that equipment out to Roselle to become train 2220 as there are no outbound expresses in the morning.

Another announcement was made that train 2220 was now 25 minutes late "enroute". It was over 30 minues late at this point.

At some point the message board picked up on this and also stated that train 2226 would be following 2220.

After about 45 minutes, train 2220 showed up with cab car 8505 with 211 supplying the power. I don't know what happened to the original equipment. Of course the train was crowded because it picked up passengers who showed up for train 2226 also.

I think it would be a lot better if they just would have stated that the train broke and they were sending out another train to pick us up. If that information is not available to them, then it should be given to them. The "late enroute", "late turn of equipment", "waiting on other trains", etc. canned responses have to go. Most of the people waiting don't know what it means anyway.

I guess the reason for my rant is to see if anyone else has had similar experiences or feels the same way or not.

On a lighter note, Metra picked that day to pass out a customer survey. I'm thinking that they might not like the responses they received that day.
  by Amtrak31
 
When I hear announcements at Joliet, they're like "Attention Metra Rock Island Passengers awaiting your next outbound train into Joliet at 5:23, your train is currently running 8 minutes behind schedule due to track constructiooon. Metra does apologize for this inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience."

  by EricL
 
I love canned announcements. "Train 506 is operating approximately eleven minutes behind schedule, due to accomodating passengers..."

It's always "signal problems" or "accomodating passengers" or "track construction", depending on the direction of the train, day, and time.

On a slightly off-topic note, outbound RI train 523 lost its HEP around Englewood on Wednesday. We were stopped at Gresham for around 10 minutes while the crew presumably tried to "fix" the problem. It clicked back on once, went back out, and we went on our way to Brainerd, where a conductor announced for everyone to be patient while the conductors came around to manually open all the doors. Right after they did that, it clicked back on again. :P Only to go right back off upon pulling out of the station, though.

I wonder if the results of the "customer surveys" will actually lead to any service improvements (like, say, the Rock Island running at better than 55 percent on time . . . :-))

  by bones
 
The Rock does have a good on time performance. Of course there are times when we do have mechanical problems usch as the 400's and 200's.
  by Amtrak31
 
It happens sometimes. Haven't heard it lately. :-)

  by metraRI
 
Because of the mainline project between LaSalle and Gresham...you kinda have to expect some delays during off peak hours. During rush hour however, trians are for the most part early...RI's high on-time performance is probably one of the reasons it is running on a 9 year old timetable.

  by doepack
 
I can honestly say that the announcements from commuter control on the UP-W line citing "freight interference" as the reason behind delayed Metra service isn't some "canned" announcement, it's usually based in fact. Delays are usually most prevalent during the early to mid-afternoon, when freight traffic is pretty heavy, and it isn't uncommon for inbound trains to use the middle track between Elmhurst and West Chicago at times. Addtionally, if an outbound Metra is running more than 10 minutes down by the time it hits Wheaton, it's a safe bet he'll be down at least 5 minutes going back downtown. The only exception to this would be train 35, which terminates at West Chicago, and returns as 50. I've seen this train arrive Wheaton outbound 15 min. late sometimes, but because it's a short turn with a longer scheduled recovery, he'd be back on schedule heading east in most cases.

  by AmtrakFan
 
The BN is terrible during rush hour. Trains are often 10 Min late.

  by metraRI
 
I doubt all trains..if any are as late as 10 minutes every day...the usual late trains are 1253 & 1273..which usually are no later than 5 minutes behind schedule. There are times when LaGrange express trains are late before getting to LaGrange, but I have not been to LaGrange since the new high speed interlocking was installed at Brookfield.

  by MetraBNSF
 
For the most part, at least from what I've experienced is most trains are on time, if they're late its no more than 2-3 minutes. Its interesting on the Metra web site under track construction and maintenance that trains 1273 and 1275 are listed as possible late running trains.
  by Amtrak31
 
I was once at LaGrange, and the westbound manifest M-BRCGAL came through. He came through right at peak time rush hour, which was a mistake and hit his emergency breaks. As we all know, a lot of expresses run through LaGrange. This freight was on Main 2. The freight hit his emergency breaks, blocking the crossings in La Grange for over a half hour. The freight couldn't get going again, since he was in emergency. He'd move his throttle up, but it wouldn't work. Trains were delayed over a half hour due to this. One of the angry motorists in the line of cars waiting at the crossing called 9-1-1. Police came out telling the freight to move it. Finally, the freight moved. It took him forever to get back up to track speed. Expresses had to stop and wait. After the freight left, there was a Metra at least every 2 minutes. They were so backed up. I got the whole freight mix-up on video.

  by EricL
 
bones wrote:The Rock does have a good on time performance. Of course there are times when we do have mechanical problems usch as the 400's and 200's.
Don't get me wrong. Inside of rush hour, it's usually great. And mechanical problems are, of course, only occasional, and are unrelated to the fact that certain trains are just never on time.
metraRI wrote:Because of the mainline project between LaSalle and Gresham...you kinda have to expect some delays during off peak hours. During rush hour however, trians are for the most part early...RI's high on-time performance is probably one of the reasons it is running on a 9 year old timetable.
It's not really that either. The off-peak inbound trains are already bogged down before they even get to the Beverly district. Then, it's usually a pretty smooth ride up the main line. Sometimes track or diamond work requires slowing down to proceed through crossings or switches. But that's to be expected during such a project, and doesn't happen every single day to the same few trains (506 and 508 specifically can always be guaranteed to make me late for work).

I guess that the issue is that these trains are seeing higher ridership than the schedule realistically allows for. But then, they're still running behind even on days when they seem relatively empty. So I don't know.

  by metraRI
 
EricL wrote:It's not really that either. The off-peak inbound trains are already bogged down before they even get to the Beverly district.
I will agree with you there...the inbound off-peak schedule does need to be tweaked to give trains more time between stations like Mokena-Hickory Creek..sometimes an extra minute to get to New Lenox is also needed. Trains usually don't get to 80th Avenue until X:47...which makes them all ready 3 minutes late. For some reason its only inbound trains that run a little behind...most outbound trains run as scheduled.

Then there are times where too much time is added....trains like #420, 526, 528..which get 12 minutes between Joliet and New Lenox. Those are all things I would expect to be in an updated schedule...whenever that may be.
Last edited by metraRI on Sat Jul 09, 2005 4:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

  by Rockingham Racer
 
metraRI wrote:Because of the mainline project between LaSalle and Gresham.
Could someone explain to me what the project entails?

  by metraRI
 
The project on RI is currently Metra's biggest project. All bridges from 63rd Street to 18th Street are being replaced. However, instead of replacing the bridges currently being used, Metra is putting the new bridges next to the current main...meaning when complete in 2007 the right of way will be moved over. I don't know what will happen to the tracks in use now, but because the project is to replace those bridges, I'm guessing the mains will be torn up.

This is also the chance for Metra to expand a currently over crowded 47th Street.