Metra service restored, delays continue

October 23, 2009 2:20:13 PM PDT
Service is starting to get back to normal for Metra passengers Friday afternoon following Thursday's derailment of four freight train locomotives. Crews finished putting the derailed trains back on the tracks this morning and were checking for damage.

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Many trains were cancelled Friday morning on the Southwest and Heritage lines. Full service resumed on the Southwest line with the 2:40 p.m. train to Orland Park. Heritage trains were scheduled to resume service at 4:50 p.m. However, Southwest and Heritage commuters still face delays up to 30 minutes.

"The last of the derailed freight locomotives have been rerailed, and they have got them off the bridge. Now, the task is to work on repairs to the track," said Michael Gillis, Metra.

Gillis says that commuters can expect delays of 30 to 50 minutes due to train reroutes on the Southwest Service and Heritage Corridor Lines.

Metra suggests riders can use the Rock Island or Burlington Northern service, although both those lines have been delayed today due to weather and signal problems.

"We're hopeful that they can get it done by the evening rush hour, but the morning rush hour is going to be a chore again," Gillis said.

At 8:53 a.m. Thursday, four locomotives derailed near 18th and Lumber just south of Union Station. Officials said the trains were en route from a nearby rail yard.

"The switchings are done by a company, and they were in the process of hooking six engines to two other engines and somehow in the process, the engines started to roll and got away," said Thomas Zapler, Union Pacific spokesperson.

The wheels of two of the locomotives slipped off the tracks. Two others were leaning. The derailment damaged the tracks and leaked about a gallon of oil into the Chicago River- not the diesel fuel as first thought. No one was hurt.

"The only thing that leaked was a few gallons of oil that's in the engine. No diesel fuel leak, so it really as far as leaking was almost a nonevent," said Thomas Zapler, Union Pacific Spokesperson.

The derailment led to delays for Metra trains that run on the Southwest Line to Orland Park. Officials had warned it could take up to 12 hours to fix the tracks and get things back on schedule.

Delays were causing headaches Thursday.

"Hurry up and rush here at 12:35 to make the train and have to sit for another two hours waiting for the next one," said Cathy Loewe, commuter.

"I'm trying to make the best. I've got a place to sit," said George Biondic, commuter.

"I had taken off half a day to go for eye doctor appointment, and now I am delayed quite a bit. So it kind of ruins my day a little bit," said Sara O'Malley, commuter.

Check with the Metra Web site, metrarail.com for specific train updates.


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