Metra to add service on Electric District

News Wire Digest for May 6: Montreal prepares for changes to commuter rail service; members of Congress seek funding for Washington Union Station
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An outbound Metra Electric train meets a Canadian National freight at Matteson, Ill., on May 2, 2020. Metra will increase service on the Electric line as part of its PTC implementation effort.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Wednesday morning rail news:

— Chicago's Metra will increase service on the Metra Electric District as of May 18 as part of its work to complete implementation of positive train control, despite the continued low ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recent figures showed ridership at only about 6% of normal. The new schedule, which represents about 74% of normal operations, is being introduced as part of the PTC introduction process. It will allow testing of all equipment, training of operators,and troubleshooting under normal conditions. “We can’t wait for ridership to return to normal because we don’t know when that will happen and we don’t want to cut it too close to our end-of-the-year deadline,” Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a news release. “Getting PTC implemented in full on the Metra Electric as soon as possible will enable us to then move on to the last two lines running without it, the two Milwaukee District lines, and complete those lines by the end of 2020.” The new schedule is available here.

— The last runs for Montreal’s Exo commuter service through the Mount Royal tunnel will be Friday, as the commuter railroad prepares to adjust operations because of the tunnel’s closure for construction to accommodate the REM light rail system [see “ASLRRA announces safety Jake Awards,” News Wire Digest, April 30]. While the tunnel work will not begin until May 11, weekend Exo service has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two Exo lines are affected. The Deux-Montagnes line will continue running between Dexu-Montagnes and Bois-Franc, west of the tunnel, while three daily trains on the Mascouche line will continue to operate to Montreal’s Central Station via a lengthy detour.

— Eight federal lawmakers representing areas around the District of Columbia are asking Congress to include $26 million in funding in its next coronavirus relief bill to ensure continued operation of Washington Union Station over the next six months, citing concerns that the station might face a budget shortfall as soon as this month. The website DCist reports that, with travel off because of the coronavirus pandemic, the station — managed by the non-profit Union Station Redevelopment Corp. — is seeing a significant loss of revenue from its restaurants, retail outlets, and parking, which fund station maintenance. Normally, the station’s 2,5000 parking spaces generate 70% of its income.

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