Officials urge CN to allow more Metra trains on Chicago-Joliet line
By Joseph Ruzich, Special to the Tribune
A Metra conductor at the Lemont station in 2009. Elected officials hope Canadian National Railway officials will allow Metra to expand train service along the Heritage Corridor Line from Chicago to Joliet. (Tribune file photo)
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., and more than 20 other elected officials sent a letter Monday to Canadian National Railway officials, urging them to allow Metra to expand train service along the Heritage Corridor Line from Chicago to Joliet.
With stops in Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont and Lockport, the line currently offers just three round trips per day, the least service on any of Metra's 11 lines, officials said.
The letter to Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, asks him to provide one extra morning inbound train and one evening outbound train, for a total of four round trips per day.
Metra's newly elected board chairman, Brad O'Halloran, sent a separate but similar letter to CN.
Lipinski and elected officials wrote that the area's population has surged and that "clearly, three round trips a day does not satisfy the demand for service."
Patrick Waldron, spokesman for CN, said the train line cannot handle additional passenger trains without significant capacity and infrastructure improvements.
"We would need government funding for infrastructure improvements in order to allow for additional passenger trains on the line," Waldron said.
He said the corridor is already very heavily used by commuter trains, Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains.
"These commitments make CN unable to add Metra service without significant capacity upgrades," Waldron said.
Guy Tridgell, a spokesman for Lipinski, said the congressman still thinks it's possible to add one more train.
"We are well aware that the Heritage Corridor Line operates on one of the busier freight lines in the Chicago area, but we believe one additional train in each direction on the line is not too much to ask," Tridgell said.
Lipinski said he will consider other options if CN denies the request.
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