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Metra arrangements

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Freight traffic used to be really heavy on the Milwaukee west line. ( This is CN's current tracks) It seems to be down now due to the economy. It might not be too bad to run CN's train on the EJ and E if they ran them fast. In Dekalb they run freights at 60MPH!! They pass quickly.

Maybe someone can help me understand this. Before "Metra", all of the suburban commuter rail lines were actually operated by railroads (Burlington Northern, Chicago & NW, Milwaukee Rd, Illinois Central Gulf, Norfolk & Southern, Rock Island). Then railroads got consolidated, bought out, or vanished, and Metra was created by law.

What agreement(s) does Metra have with the railroads? Metra owns the equipment, the railroad owns the rails. In the case of UP & BNSF, the train employees are the railroads? Does Metra pay fees for the right t run on those tracks? Do the railroads get a percentage of the fares collected? Does Metra pay rights to Amtrak for track use at Union Station? Who pays for fuel, Metra or the operating railroad? Does Metra have toconsult with the railroads for a schedule or does federal law dictate a right of way for commuter trains?

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Maybe someone can help me understand this. Before "Metra", all of the suburban commuter rail lines were actually operated by railroads (Burlington Northern, Chicago & NW, Milwaukee Rd, Illinois Central Gulf, Norfolk & Southern, Rock Island). Then railroads got consolidated, bought out, or vanished, and Metra was created by law.

What agreement(s) does Metra have with the railroads? Metra owns the equipment, the railroad owns the rails. In the case of UP & BNSF, the train employees are the railroads? Does Metra pay fees for the right t run on those tracks? Do the railroads get a percentage of the fares collected? Does Metra pay rights to Amtrak for track use at Union Station? Who pays for fuel, Metra or the operating railroad? Does Metra have toconsult with the railroads for a schedule or does federal law dictate a right of way for commuter trains?

  • If the line is just the railroad's name (UP or BNSF) the railroad owns the track, hires the help, and operates the train and signals, and Metra has a purchase of service subsidy agreement with it (and owns the equipment, unless some Mass Transit District still does).
  • If the line has District in the name (i.e. Electric District), Metra owns the line, the equipment, the dispatch, employs the crew, etc.
  • If the line has the name "Service" (like Southwest Service), the railroad owns the track and is in charge of dispatch, but Metra provides the equipment and crew.

Whatever the deal is with NICTD for the Metra/South Shore is probably too confusing, but essentially Metra provides a subsidy and sets the ticket price to Hegewisch, and NICTD has to negotiate a trackage rights agreement with Metra over the Electric District (including paying a share of the electricity).

The reason that Metra owns RI and Milw is that the predecessor railroads went bankrupt.

Also, supposedly technically, the employer of Metra employees is Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, d/b/a Metra.

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[*]If the line has District in the name (i.e. Electric District), Metra owns the line, the equipment, the dispatch, employs the crew, etc.

The reason that Metra owns RI and Milw is that the predecessor railroads went bankrupt.

Also, supposedly technically, the employer of Metra employees is Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, d/b/a Metra.

I will agree with all in principal, but it is not totally correct. As Busjack stated, Metra owns the RI and the Milwaukee because they went bankrupt (although the RI was temporarily under the control of the C&NW before it was totally disbanded). In fact Metra was created because those 2 carriers went bankrupt and goverment came up with a way to maintain the commuter service, otherwise it would have been gone.

Service on the UP and BNSF are operated under the purchase of service agreement between the railroads and Metra. The employees, track and maintenance are all provided by the carrier and Metra pays that carrier for the rights to use their people and trackage. Both are dispatched by the carrier, in the case of the UP out of Omaha and the BNSF out of Dallas/Ft Worth. Metra owns the commuter equipment used on those lines.

All of the other service is owned by Metra, however only the Electric and the Rock Island trackage are owned by Metra. In these cases, the crews, track personnel, ticket agents, etc are all Metra employees. The Milwaukee Districts, North Central Service, Southwest Service and Heritage Corridor are all owned by Metra with Metra personnel, but are operated over other railroads. In the case of the Milwaukee, that runs along the CP, the Southwest over parts of the NS, the Heritage over the NS, UP and CN and the North Central over the CP and CN. In all of those cases, dispatch is controled by each separate carrier. As far as I know, Metra only maintains parts of the CP which they pass over...all other sections are maintained by the foreign railroad. With the foreign lines, Metra kicks in a big chunk of money to keep the areas which they operate over maintained. Metra dispatchers control only the Electric, the Rock Island and tower B12 on the Milwaukee West (CP).

Metra pays Amtrak rights to use Union Station and what Amtrak says goes. Any revenue foreign carriers collect from fares (ie UP and BN) they keep. As far as schedules, Metra does have to consult with the foreign carriers for permission to operate. If there is a schedule change, the carrier has to be consulted. This is not totally absolute, though. There are rush hour curfews to operate commuter trains in the am and pm and during that time (at least on the UP and BN), the commuter service can do pretty much what they want. However in cases of extra or new service, the carrier has to be considered (one of the reasons for limited service on the NCS, since the CN is not honoring agreements made with the former WC and thus the total amount of trains are at the max).

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You work there, but all indications are that Metra (or NIRRC) owns the portion of the Milwaukee line on which it runs. For instance, there are three METX maintenance cars sitting just south of The Glen (at least were as of yesterday), and all the railroad crossings have Metra milepost signs under the cross-bucks. CP runs on the tracks, but according to a railfan site, on trackage rights from Metra. Railroad.net also indicates that Metra acquired the two Milwaukee line segments due to the impending bankruptcy.

The Railroad.net description seems pretty thorough, IMO.

Whether Metra does the dispatch on the Milw, I don't know, but you don't hear about conflicts with the freight operator there, like you do with CN with regard to the North Central Service. Of course, why federal money went into building a second track for WC/CN when there wasn't an agreement in advance on how many trains Metra could run there is somewhat beyond me (in fact, the other New Starts were on private railroad property, and you have the similar talk about clearing with the freight operator before running Saturday service on the South West Service). For that matter, the Metra Budget indicates that it pays for replacing bridges on the UP, even though that is also private property.

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You may be correct in that Metra aquired the Milwaukee trackage rights after the bankruptcy. They do maintain the lines. However, the CP does do the dispatching for both the North and West Lines and all of the track bulletins are CP issued and railroad rules fall under the CP, indicating it is under their control.

As for Metra paying for UP bridges, as I said, they pay for the maintenace of the areas they run on. If not for that, there would be no commuter service there, since the UP wants nothing to do with any passenger operation. When they found out (during the C&NW takeover) how much Metra was giving them for maintenance, they relented somewhat. Remember, it was the UP that pushed Metra out of West Chicago...they wanted to make that terminal a complete intermodal facility, until the locals got involved and said, uh, no. That is the real and true reason that trains go out to Elburn now.

As for the CN, Metra did have an agreement with the WC to operate 22 trains daily between Franklin Park and Antioch. When the CN took over, they were only going to allow 16-18, and this created quite a situation and potential court action. They gave in and allowed 19 1/2 (the half being the last train back from Antioch being routed over the North Line from Grayslake). That is also the reason there is no true express service there and why Metra had to dance a little when all the complaing started regarding the service (the lack of express trains). Metra had to concoct a way to keep the amount of trains at its limit and still show some type of express rush hour service. With this current agreement, you will never see any Saturday or Sunday trains on the NCS.

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How does Metra make any money if the fares are going to the railroads and they are paying trackage fees and paying for the equipment and paying the railroads for maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure?

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How does Metra make any money if the fares are going to the railroads and they are paying trackage fees and paying for the equipment and paying the railroads for maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure?

The fares only go to the carriers when they sell the tickets. Metra keeps any fare revenue they sell. In the case of the other things, its called government.

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How does Metra make any money if the fares are going to the railroads and they are paying trackage fees and paying for the equipment and paying the railroads for maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure?
The fares only go to the carriers when they sell the tickets. Metra keeps any fare revenue they sell. In the case of the other things, its called government.
Also, 45% of Metra's operating revenue comes from the sales tax. Very little of the fares go into capital--that is either federal money, or Illinois First and the long awaited "state capital plan."

The only line that comes close to breaking even is the BNSF.

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Also, 45% of Metra's operating revenue comes from the sales tax. Very little of the fares go into capital--that is either federal money, or Illinois First and the long awaited "state capital plan."

The only line that comes close to breaking even is the BNSF.

I recently found out the ticket agents along the BNSF are "BNSF" employees. I was going to pay for a ticket with a temp check (Metra accepts them, BNSF does not) and I was told no by the agent. When I told her that I had purchased one before from the downtown Metra agent at Union Station, she informed me (in her Metra sweater) that she was BNSF.

I guess that means all of the revenue from the outlying suburban stations on UP and BNSF goes to the railroads and not Metra.

It seems Metra could save money on MD, RI, NCS, SWS, HC, if they went to the vending machines so prevalent on ME.

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I guess that means all of the revenue from the outlying suburban stations on UP and BNSF goes to the railroads and not Metra.

It seems Metra could save money on MD, RI, NCS, SWS, HC, if they went to the vending machines so prevalent on ME.

Just because a BNSF employee sells them doesn't necessarily mean that (in the ultimate sense), although it probably is accounted against any subsidy that the BNSF receives for operating the service. As previously noted, Metra personnel sell all tickets at CUS, but ask for the destination, also, apparently for accounting purposes.

As far as fare machines, there is the talk about the universal card, but the vending machines probably wouldn't save money (given that the conductors collect fares) and probably would tick off the passengers on the other lines. I'm surprised that they didn't go with the turnstiles.

But I am also surprised that a BNSF employee wouldn't follow Metra policies. The BNSF schedule does have a check acceptance policy:

CHECK ACCEPTANCE POLICY

â–  Ticket purchase must be in the amount of $10.00 or more.

â–  Check will be accepted only for amount of

transportation charges.

â–  Please make check payable to METRA/BNSF.

â–  Check must include the following information on the

face of the check:

• Name

• Current Address

• Home Phone Number

• Business Phone Number

â–  ID required:

Valid Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin Drivers

License or Other Photo Identification Card.

â–  An assessment will be charged for any check

returned by the bank on which drawn. This charge

will be added to the face amount of the check and

included in the amount due.

If the issue was that it was a "temp" check, the policy doesn't seem that different than the one for Metra-operated lines (such as on the Milw N schedule):

CHECK ACCEPTANCE POLICY

â–  Ticket purchase must be in the amount of $10.00 or more.

â–  Check will be accepted only for amount of

transportation charges.

â–  Please make check payable to METRA.

â–  Check must include the following information on the

face of the check:

• Name

• Current Address

• Home Phone Number

• Business Phone Number

â–  ID required:

Valid Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin Drivers

License or Other Photo Identification Card.

â–  An assessment will be charged for any check

returned by the bank on which drawn. This charge

will be added to the face amount of the check and

included in the amount due

But maybe saying that the check must be payable to METRA/BNSF indicates something different for that line. Or, maybe Metra employees at CUS shouldn't have taken the temp check.

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Metra agants shouldn't be taking temp checks either. Any agent that takes a bad

check (and the person writing the check is on the bad check list) has to pay for

that ticket. I don't know too many agents who would risk a questionable looking

check for that reason.

Once again, any revenue the BNSF or UP collects from their stations goes to

that carrier. About 4 years ago, they put the computers in at CUS to track

where the revenue is going. Any money collected at CUS for BNSF destinations

goes to the BNSF. BNSF and UP agents only started wearing Metra garb in the

last year or so. I can't tell you why, other than someone at Metra must have

been on an ego trip. If they follow on board personnel on how they wear their

uniforms, they would have been better off letting them wearing regular street

clothes.

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If you purchase the Metra Weekend Pass ($5) from an agent at either CUS or Oglivie Sta., the agent will ask you what is your destination.

When I bought the pass at Oglivie Sta. one Saturday, I was asked this, and I replied "Elburn", which was close enough (I had two minutes to catch the UP West line train. I was only going to Villa Park.)

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Who is in charge of policeing the lines and stations? Are the UP lines and stations patrolled by Metra or UP Police? Is the BNSF line patroled by Metra or BNSF police? Finally is Union station patrolled by Metra or Amtrak police or booth? Please let me know thank you.

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Who is in charge of policeing the lines and stations? Are the UP lines and stations patrolled by Metra or UP Police? Is the BNSF line patroled by Metra or BNSF police? Finally is Union station patrolled by Metra or Amtrak police or booth? Please let me know thank you.

Each railroad will have their own police watch over the station, since it is on that railroad's

property. Therefore, UP will have UP police, BNSF, BNSF police, and Metra, Metra Police.

Union Station is under the juristiction of the Amtrak police, although there are enough

Metra Police there to contradict that statement. If there is an incident anywhere, be it

a Metra line or contract carrier line involving a Metra train, there will be some sort of Metra Police dispatched there, but they will not necessarily have control or the situation.

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Each railroad will have their own police watch over the station, since it is on that railroad's

property. Therefore, UP will have UP police, BNSF, BNSF police, and Metra, Metra Police.

Union Station is under the juristiction of the Amtrak police, although there are enough

Metra Police there to contradict that statement. If there is an incident anywhere, be it

a Metra line or contract carrier line involving a Metra train, there will be some sort of Metra Police dispatched there, but they will not necessarily have control or the situation.

Thank you, now who patrols Ogolvie UP or Metra Police? I Manley see UP gumshoes (Police) at Ogolvie but I have also seen Metra Police there. Please clarify this for me thank you.

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If you purchase the Metra Weekend Pass ($5) from an agent at either CUS or Oglivie Sta., the agent will ask you what is your destination.

When I bought the pass at Oglivie Sta. one Saturday, I was asked this, and I replied "Elburn", which was close enough (I had two minutes to catch the UP West line train. I was only going to Villa Park.)

Whats your point??

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Whats your point??
I think that trainman said the point was that at Union Station, they have to account for whether the fare goes directly to Metra (if you give them a destination on a Metra owned line) or the private contractor (UP or BNSF), and they do it by asking for the destination. So, if you want to make the recovery ratio on the BNSF look better, you say "Hinsdale," even though you are going to Villa Park. But, based on regional fare policies, the ticket is good to anywhere but Hegewisch. I had asked trainman before whether I could buy a ticket from an Electric District vending machine to Homewood and use it on the Milw N., and he indicated o.k.

Of course, making this determination makes less sense to the rider on the weekend, since the weekend pass is good to any destination (again except Hegewisch). Add in the 90%+ chance that someone at Ogilvie is using the UP, and probably the fact that either of the privately operated lines is either going to get its fares or the subsidy. Apparently, though, the BNSF does come pretty close to breaking even, from Metra budget documents. But since both Elburn and Villa Park are on the same line, the UP got credit for his $5 in either case.

Also, inbound, the conductors just say "$5 please," and that is that.

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On 6/4/2009 at 10:08 PM, trainman8119 said:

 

Each railroad will have their own police watch over the station, since it is on that railroad's

property. Therefore, UP will have UP police, BNSF, BNSF police, and Metra, Metra Police.

Union Station is under the juristiction of the Amtrak police, although there are enough

Metra Police there to contradict that statement. If there is an incident anywhere, be it

a Metra line or contract carrier line involving a Metra train, there will be some sort of Metra Police dispatched there, but they will not necessarily have control or the situation.

Talked with a Metra cop two weeks ago and found out that UP dropped there special agents on the commuter lines, Metra PD now handles policing of the stations and trains now. Rumor now has it that Metra will take over policing the BNSF line, very interesting. 

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On ‎3‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 9:39 PM, MRChiCity said:

Talked with a Metra cop two weeks ago and found out that UP dropped there special agents on the commuter lines, Metra PD now handles policing of the stations and trains now. Rumor now has it that Metra will take over policing the BNSF line, very interesting. 

Makes sense about the UP. They want absolutely nothing to do with commuter operations...other than to have someone pick up the tab for maintenance where the scoots actually run. God help the people on the BNSF. The more Metra claims they have their police out there, the less secure people really are, and that is a scary though. They don't respond and when they do it takes light years for them to show up...then they really don't do anything about anything. I just wish they would drop their supposed police force and let local municipalities handle.

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3 hours ago, trainman8119 said:

They don't respond and when they do it takes light years for them to show up...then they really don't do anything about anything. I just wish they would drop their supposed police force and let local municipalities handle.

A couple of years ago Orsenio said something about not knowing why Metra has a police force,and it doesn't appear that anything has changed.

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56 minutes ago, Busjack said:

A couple of years ago Orsenio said something about not knowing why Metra has a police force,and it doesn't appear that anything has changed.

I recently called police about an incident at a Metra station. Three New Lenox officers arrived in less than two minutes. By the time a lone Metra officer arrived, over half an hour had passed and everyone except me had left already. So I can understand the sentiment being expressed here. It seems rather inefficient to police a long, narrow area, although there are situations where it is beneficial to have specific knowledge of the railroad that local police may not have.

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Two points - CNW operated the RI commuter service under an FRA directed service order until RTA bought the line north of the Joliet Bridge. Rest of RI was being run under a directed service ordet by Kansad City Terminal Ry at that point until the property was disposed of.

MILW was similar. SOO set up a subsidiary called Milwaukee Road Inc to buy the old MILW, sold south of Fox Lake and east of Almora to RTA, then merged rest into SOO. Last I heard CP still handles dispatching.

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9 hours ago, trainman8119 said:

Makes sense about the UP. They want absolutely nothing to do with commuter operations...other than to have someone pick up the tab for maintenance where the scoots actually run. God help the people on the BNSF. The more Metra claims they have their police out there, the less secure people really are, and that is a scary though. They don't respond and when they do it takes light years for them to show up...then they really don't do anything about anything. I just wish they would drop their supposed police force and let local municipalities handle.

According to the Metra cop I talked to the reasson UP pulled there police from the three commuter lines was liability, same with BNSF wanting to turn Policing over to Metra. It has to do with technical wording in there contracts or something like that. 

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So several weeks ago at the Main Street station in Evanston I saw a UP cop, one of the storage bins was spray painted and the lock was broken open. He check it out and re locked it, he drove an unmarked pick up and was in plain clothes with a black vest with the words, "POLICE" in big white letters on the back. My question is in the Chicago area do most RR Police drive unmarked cars and ware plain clothes? And if Metra is now Policing the stations on the UP lines why did UP send an agent out there? Thanks.

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1 hour ago, MRChiCity said:

So several weeks ago at the Main Street station in Evanston I saw a UP cop, one of the storage bins was spray painted and the lock was broken open. He check it out and re locked it, he drove an unmarked pick up and was in plain clothes with a black vest with the words, "POLICE" in big white letters on the back. My question is in the Chicago area do most RR Police drive unmarked cars and ware plain clothes? And if Metra is now Policing the stations on the UP lines why did UP send an agent out there? Thanks.

How do you know he was a UP cop if he was in plain clothes and had an unmarked vehicle?

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