Trains News Wire Digest for Wednesday, April 1

MTA struggles with staffing; UP Metra stations closed; NJ Transit increases PTC testing
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The Metra station in Mount Prospect, Ill., is one of 11 closed by Union Pacific over coronavirus concerns.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Wednesday morning rail news:

— An increasing number of workers either with confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus or self-quarantining because of possible exposure have left New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority struggling to maintain operations. AmNY reported that MTA CEO Patrick Foye, who has himself tested positive for the virus, said on a Monday radio show that the agency now is dealing with 582 confirmed cases of the virus, 474 of them involving New York City Transit employees. In all, there are 3,300 workers quarantined, 2,200 of those with NYC Transit. Eight MTA workers are reported to have died from complications brought by the virus. Some 40% of Monday’s scheduled train trips were cancelled because of staff shortages. Riders reported concerns about crowding on some trains that did operate, but Foye said the with the number of workers who are unavailable, adding service is “just not an option right now.”

— Eleven Metra stations owned and staffed by Union Pacific have been closed to passengers because of COVID-19 concerns, the Pioneer Press reports. Closed are the Elmhurst, Lombard, Villa Park, and Geneva stations on the UP West line; Park Ridge, Mount Prospect, Arlington Park, and Crystal Lake on the UP Northwest, and Davis Street-Evanston, Highland Park, and Waukegan stations on the UP North line. Metra station ownership is a complex, station-by-station matter, with some owned by UP, some by BNSF, some by individual communities, and the rest owned by Metra.

— NJ Transit is using track time freed up by its current service cuts to increase testing of positive train control, improving the odds that the agency will meet the Dec. 31, 2020, deadline for PTC implementation. reports that Ray Kenny, NJ Transit’s director of rail operations, told a board meeting that the agency is now able to run daytime test trains, which was not previously possible. “It’s freed up some of our supervision and some of our equipment,” Kenny said, “so we’re going to take advantage of that … Our ability to get testing done is the most critical activity for helping us meet the deadline that is within our control.” With ridership down 90% because of the coronavirus pandemic, NJ Transit is now running significantly reduced commuter schedules.


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