Sunday, May 18, 2014

The E-Mail I Sent To Metra Last Week. -- Updated


I realize this likely will not get beyond the intern or the person that is forced to check the e-mail box but I really have to ask as a general operation...

Are you even trying anymore?

As a long time BNSF commuter (I first started riding over 20 years ago), it seems that the number of delays and problems has grown significantly over the last couple of years culminating this year with I would have to say having less than 3 weeks where there hasn't been at least one day a week with some sort of delay or issue.

Yeah, I get it, it was a cold winter and I am willing to cut you some slack for that, but it isn't cold anymore and still there are issues. 

For example last night as me and several hundred of my fellow riders awaited our 5:22 to Naperville/Route 59 departure, straining to listen to the announcements over the sounds of idling and moving trains and enjoying the unique air quality that is the south end of track 2 wondering where our train was.

I will give credit where credit is due, as I could see the train headed down the track there was an announcement that is was coming, so there is that.

I also understand that delay was due to an Amtrak dispatch issue (Metra is always quick to offer specifics when the delay is Amtrak's fault, otherwise it is a vague switch/signal/freight interference issue and sometimes more than one of those).

Which leads me to my next question.  It seems that switches and signals fail all the time on the BNSF (yes, I know they operate the line, not you).  But it seems there are no consequences for the BNSF nor Metra for these failures, when things are going as bad as they seem to be now..   It just strikes me as inconceivable that after 100+ years of railroading, switches and signals seem to fail as often as they seem to do in 2014 on the BNSF.

Again, I suspect this will not get beyond the first person who reads it and even in it's present less than ideal state the train is still better than driving so you have that going for you...

But as a commuter I don't think it is too much to ask that someone figure out why there are so many signal/switch failures and there are some consequences for recent performance issues.



I will  let you know if I get a response.


I took a re-send but I did get one... Here it is.  One comment, since I ride the BNSF for the most part I am not riding on Metra trackage as it were...

Please accept our apologies for the delays you have experienced over the past several weeks.

While several factors have contributed to the decline in the level of on-time performance that our customers expect, the primary cause has been a major project to replace 20,000 rail crossties and resurface 17 miles of the center track between Chicago and Hinsdale We wish we could point to one other issue for other delays, but we can't. Some delays have stemmed from track/switch issues, others from mechanical failures, still others from freight interference/breakdowns.  Our capital needs are huge, and they have grown due to the age of our system and years of inadequate capital funding. Because we can't afford to invest enough in our engines, cars and infrastructure, we have a greater risk of mechanical problems and potentially slower service.

The delays the last few days are not associated with track work. We have had mechanical issues with equipment. We've had crossing-device failure, in addition to on-going projects across our territory.

Please accept our pledge to keep working with the BNSF toward eliminating unwarranted delays. We will continue to monitor train operations on a train-by-train basis. Rest assured that we'll take all necessary steps to protect the reliability of our service. We understand the impact of tardy trains on our passengers and we are sincerely sorry when our trains do not operate in a reliable manner.

Thank you for continuing to rely on Metra. We appreciate your understanding, patience and support and confidence in our BNSF service.


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