Latest filings with STB show significant differences remain in Amtrak, Metra dispute

Briefs display sharply diverging views on matters such as station dwell time, schedule changes
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Amtrak and Metra have filed briefs with the Surface Transportation Board in the latest phase of their ongoing dispute over Metra's lease at Chicago Union Station.
TRAINS: David Lassen

WASHINGTON — Amtrak and Metra have filed briefs with the Surface Transportation Board on the remaining issues in their long-running dispute over Metra’s lease at Amtrak-owned Chicago Union Station, with Amtrak asking the board to decide the remaining areas of disagreement so appropriate compensation can be decided, while Metra suggests the disagreements can still be resolved through negotiations.

The two sides had previously indicated that, after mediation, they were unable to reach agreement on 16 issues [see “Metra, Amtrak inform STB of remaining issues …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 16, 2020], and the two sides’ filings indicate that some of the disagreements remain significant. For example, Amtrak is proposing that dwell time for Metra equipment, for boarding disembarking, and turnaround service be limited to 10 minutes during peak period, one hour during weekday off-peak periods, and five hours on weekends and holidays. Metra, on the other hand, says Amtrak wants to “impose arbitrary and unnecessary time restrictions on Metra equipment layovers untethered to a demonstrable Amtrak need.” It suggests the boards simply allow Metra to remain at the station as long as circumstances warrant, as long as they do not interfere with Amtrak operations.

In all, Amtrak indicates 10 of the 16 remaining issues should be addressed by the board, while Metra’s filing address five issues, and agrees to accept Amtrak’s most recent proposed terms in two areas. Both sides request that procedures governing Metra schedule changes and increases in service be addressed, with Amtrak saying it will continue to cooperate with Metra, “but ultimately, a single party must have final scheduling,” while Metra says its schedule “merits protection from arbitrary changes” and that”Amgtrak should not be the sole arbiter of whether a refusal to accommodate additional Metra trains is reasonable.” Both sides also ask for resolution of a dispute about the terms of the Amtrak dispatching feed provided to Metra.

The full Amtrak filing is available here, while Metra’s is here. Each side has until Feb. 19 to file a response to these briefs.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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