Survey finds support for expanded Metra North Central Service

News Wire Digest second section for June 9: Study seeks to gauge support for New Orleans-Baton Rouge rail; PATH completes tunnel work, reopens World Trade Center station for seven-day service
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An inbound Metra North Central train departs Mundelein, Ill., in April 2019. Mundelein funded a study which shows support for increased North Central service.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Tuesday morning rail news in brief:

Survey finds support for increased service on Metra's North Central line

A new survey says riders and businesses on Metra’s North Central Service, between Chicago Union Station and Antioch, Ill., would like to see weekend service and increased weekday frequencies — but the survey was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to service on the line being slashed and will make any addition to service unlikely. Streetsblog Chicago reports the Village of Mundelein used a grant to conduct the study, which found that 44% of riders would welcome weekend service — the North Central is currently one of just two Metra lines that shuts down on weekends — while 57% of businesses said the current schedule limits their ability to recruit or retain employees. Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said in a response to the report that the agency is “committed to working with the NCS communities to explore these ideas going forward,” but also noted ongoing funding challenges. Currently, because of COVID-19, service on the line has been cut to one daily round trip.

Online poll seeks to gauge ridership potential for New Orleans-Baton Rouge rail proposal
University of New Orleans researchers are conducting an online poll to gauge potential ridership for a proposed rail link between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. Ten years ago, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports, a study forecast the line could draw 39,000 riders per month, with as many as 135,000 monthly by 2038. The new study attempts to better define ridership than the earlier project, which used more generic national figures. It is being funded with $150,000 from the LSU Tran-SET consortium. The New Orleans-Baton Rouge service could link to Amtrak’s proposed New Orleans-Mobile, Ala., Gulf Coast service, and has the backing of Lousiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

PATH completes tunnel work ahead of schedule, reopens World Trade Center on weekends
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has reopened the PATH World Trade Center station for service seven days a week, six months ahead of the original schedule. Since January 2019, the station has been closed on weekends to allow work on the tunnels under the Hudson River between the Trade Center and the Exchange Place station in New Jersey, which were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Track, third rail, electrical, signal, and communications systems in the tunnel were replaced. The original timeline for completion was December 2020, but a modified construction schedule made the earlier finish possible.


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