Metra said Tuesday it's sorry for the mess commuters had getting out of the city a day earlier.
In a post on its website, the transit agency said a signal circuit on the south end of Union Station failed, preventing most trains from entering or leaving the station.
Switching issues are normally resolved fairly quickly, Metra said, but Monday's problems happened at the most inopportune time -- the evening rush -- and took longer than normal to correct.
"We know the situation was frustrating and some information was confusing, and we are sorry," said Metra.
Hundreds of passengers at Union Station were stranded at a scene described by one passenger as "total chaos." Delays of up to 50 minutes were reported on several Metra lines at the height of the situation.
Metra Spokesperson Judy Pardonnet said they are reviewing the response to the incident.
"We'll do everything that we can to fix it sooner, to communicate better, and to try to do something about the crowd control if in fact it does get so backed up in the station," she said.
Metra's Full Statement:
Metra would like to apologize for the lengthy delays, crowded conditions and communication issues that occurred at Union Station on Monday, Jan. 9. The problems stemmed from the failure of a signal circuit at a critical point where tracks intersect on the south end of the station, preventing most trains from entering or leaving.
Amtrak, which owns Union Station and is responsible for maintaining its tracks and signals, started working on the problem shortly after it developed at about 4:20 p.m. Normally, such signal problems can be fixed relatively quickly, and we had no reason to think this situation would be any different. However, the repairs ended up taking 42 minutes, during an extremely busy period of the evening rush hour.
As the delays grew, the situation became more and more fluid. Our plans, and therefore the information we needed to convey to riders, changed to adjust to the growing delays and crowded conditions. We did attempt to provide that information to our riders as quickly and effectively as we could, using station announcements, e-alerts and our website. But we know the situation was frustrating and some information was confusing, and we are sorry.
Metra and BNSF are working with Amtrak in an effort to eliminate or at least limit the number of signal and switch issues at Union Station. We want to be certain they are doing everything they can to prevent such problems in the future.
Again, please accept our apologies for the problems Monday night, and our thanks for riding Metra.
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