With scorching heat in the forecast for the Chicago area, commuters could be in for additional challenges as Metra prepares to alter its service due to the hot conditions.
According to the agency, commuters should plan on a slower trip into and out of work in the coming days, as trains are required to operate 10 miles per hour below their normal speeds when the temperature gets above 95 degrees, as it’s forecasted to do over the next several days.
That translates into a 10-to-15 minute delay for most Metra lines, according to the agency, and that’s in addition to other delays that could come up due to the weather.
“We’re going to do everything we can to mitigate and anticipate problems, but we can’t guarantee they’re not going to be there,” Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said.
Hot temperatures like the ones in Chicago’s forecast have the potential to warp and expand tracks, which could further hinder service on Metra’s rail lines. The heat could also impact the functionality of switches, signals, and other parts of the agency’s infrastructure, all of which could lead to delays.
“We’re trying to reduce that potential but we’re also giving ourselves more room to stop should we notice a problem with the rail,” Reile said.
Multiple rail inspections will occur daily while the heat wave lasts, an increase from the federal mandate of at least one inspection every three days under normal conditions.
As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, the agency said that some rail cars could be taken out of service if their air conditioning units aren’t able to keep up with the heat beginning on Thursday.
There is some good news for Metra riders who use the service in the early morning hours and later at night: if the temperature gets below 95 degrees, trains can operate at normal speeds.