Amtrak Won’t Give Up Control of CUS

Amtrak won’t allow Chicago commuter rail operate Metra to take over ownership of Chicago Union Station.

The request was made by a Chicago area Congressman who also held a hearing about two recent signal malfunctions at the station that delayed thousands of Metra commuters.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski is chairman of a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Unfortunately, we are here today because all too often Metra trains are seriously delayed, very uncomfortable or unexpectedly cancelled,” Lipinski said. “Metra riders are not getting the service they deserve.”

Attending the hearing were representatives of Amtrak, Metra, BNSF, Norfolk Southern and Canadian National.

About 90 percent of the trains using CUS belong to Metra and paid Amtrak $9.7 million last year in lease payments.

During the hearing, Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director of government affairs, said the carrier has “repeatedly apologized” for the incidents and that Amtrak is working to prevent future problems.

Lang said it is not unusual for Amtrak to be the minority operator at a station.

Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said called for his agency to “have control over our own destiny.

But Lang said Amtrak is not going to give up control of CUS.

Instead, he called for additional local, state, and federal funding for capacity improvements at the station.

Lang acknowledged that Lipinski’s committee will oversee drafting rail funding reauthorization legislation in 2020 that will include funding for Amtrak.

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One Response to “Amtrak Won’t Give Up Control of CUS”

  1. Rail Provocateur Says:

    Amtrak was created to operate trains; not to be in the real estate business owning depots or infrastructure (NEC).

    Just as Amtrak has long delayed evolving NYC’s Penn Station into something better than a pathetic underground maze, so has CUS suffered under Amtrak’s tuteledge. With MTA now owning/operating Grand Central Terminal and moving forward on its real estate development, so must Metra now takeover CUS, including signaling, interlocking, and approaches. At least with Metra, their will be a focused urgency to finally develop the long ignored Union Station; no panic shutdown with the sign of the first snowflake.

    Metra is vital to Chicago commerce; commuter service cannot be sacrificed for Amtrak’s interpretation of its monopoly powers.

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