February System Failure Prompts Spat Between Metra, Amtrak

Officials of Metra, the Chicago area's commuter rail agency, assert the stranding of nearly 100,000 commuters in February wouldn't have happened if it controlled Union Station.

During a regional rail issues hearing before U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski on Tuesday, CEO James Derwinski said Metra wouldn't have conducted maintenance during a rush hour.

The Feb. 28 delays occurred when an Amtrak manager ordered a hardware update during the morning rush instead of during off-peak hours. The update shorted out communications equipment, halting rail operations.

Derwinski pointed out to Lipinski and several suburban mayors attending the hearing that Metra has a larger workforce than Amtrak and would be better able to handle on-the-ground operations. He also noted Metra has been trying to gain control of Union Station for several years.

Amtrak director of government affairs Ray Lang said ceding control of Union Station is not going to happen.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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