Winter takes toll on Metra trains

February 27, 2014 (CHICAGO)

About a third of Metra's 800-plus car fleet was built 40-50 years ago. There is a slight gap between the door and the frame it sits in, so when the cold and snow came with a vengeance this winter, the doors on many of the older cars iced-up and they had to be pulled out of service.

Metra is in the process of moving to replace as many of those older door assemblies as possible, but it's not cheap - roughly $30,000 a car. They're also a little more than halfway through a multi-year program of renovations on 176 rail cars. Each of those are being gutted. The floors and seats replaced, and features added.

Metra expects those rehabbed cars to be completed in three years.

The transit company has just three dozen spare cars ready for service. So when doors freeze or other headaches hit, there aren't many back up cars that can swing into action.

That means standing-room only on some Metra lines.

To fill the immediate need, Metra is looking at leasing more rail cars.

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