Heritage Corridor Trains Running on Time
By Janet Lundquist
Joliet Herald News
Commuters waiting for a Metra train on the Heritage Corridor line may have noticed a change last month — most of the trains were on time.
A January meeting between Metra and the Canadian National Railway apparently helped improve the service. The Heritage Corridor line, which had trains arriving late 75 percent of the time in December, improved to 99 percent of trains arriving on time in February.
The meeting was called at the request of U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, after the Heritage Corridor line had “significant problems” in December.
Trains on the line were on schedule 95 percent of the time in January and improved to 99 percent in February, Lipinski’s office reported.
In a news release issued Thursday, Alex Clifford, Metra executive director and CEO, and Jim Vena, CN’s senior vice president for the Southern Region, thanked Lipinski for his help in improving service on the line.
“It certainly seems, based on the on-time performance, that there had been a lack of communication. There were a couple instances of specific delays where it seemed that a lack of communication was definitely an issue,” Lipinski spokesman Nathaniel Zimmer said.
“Heritage Corridor performance has been a problem over time,” Zimmer said. “So what matters now is maintaining the high level that we’ve seen over the last couple months.”
Patrick Waldron, CN spokesman, said a track maintenance program in December caused some delays on the Heritage Corridor line.
“We’re always in touch with the congressman’s office, we’re always in touch with Metra,” Waldron said.
There were a few incidents in December related to the track work where communication “just wasn’t there,” leading to delays, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.
“(The track maintenance) is complete now, so that’s been a big help,” Gillis said. “We’ve gotten a lot of cooperation and they’re very cognisant of our needs.”
The Heritage Corridor track is owned by a freight carrier under contract with Metra, so communication is key to keeping Metra trains on time, he said.
In an unrelated case, Canadian National Railway had until Friday to respond to a complaint filed by Amtrak claiming CN freight interference delayed almost all of its City of New Orleans trains in 2011.
Waldron said the company plans to file its response Friday.
In February, Amtrak filed a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board asking federal investigators to look into CN’s role in delays on the lines running from Chicago to Joliet.
Freight interference from CN trains delayed 99 percent of Amtrak’s trains for the City of New Orleans service in 2001, according to the complaint.
Amtrak contends that CN is violating federal law that gives passenger trains right-of-way over freight when they have competing railroad needs.
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