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Metra Service resumption and expansion


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Has there been any talk of resuming all of Metra services back to pre Covid-19 levels and/or expanding service? I believe Metra had a survey for customers to fill out July 20th to Aug 5th. I know that Metra UP-North needs to have earlier service on Sundays and Holidays going to Waukegan or Kenosha...10:35 AM outbound departure is definitely too late as the other outbound departures begin as early as 4:50 AM to 6:40 AM. 

Amtrak Hiawatha Service 1st Outbound  Sunday train to Milwaukee leaves Union Station at 6:25 AM and the 1st NICTD South Shore train leaves Millennium Park at 8:40 AM towards South Bend, IN.

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1 hour ago, renardo870 said:

Has there been any talk of resuming all of Metra services back to pre Covid-19 levels and/or expanding service? I believe Metra had a survey for customers to fill out July 20th to Aug 5th. I know that Metra UP-North needs to have earlier service on Sundays and Holidays going to Waukegan or Kenosha...10:35 AM outbound departure is definitely too late as the other outbound departures begin as early as 4:50 AM to 6:40 AM. 

Amtrak Hiawatha Service 1st Outbound  Sunday train to Milwaukee leaves Union Station at 6:25 AM and the 1st NICTD South Shore train leaves Millennium Park at 8:40 AM towards South Bend, IN.

I believe Metra has added service on most of its lines,  though its still not at prepandemic levels yet. I believe Metra is monitoring ridership and will adjust levels accordingly.   

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49 minutes ago, artthouwill said:

I believe Metra has added service on most of its lines,  though its still not at prepandemic levels yet. I believe Metra is monitoring ridership and will adjust levels accordingly.   

Heritage Corridor is technically seeing more service than it had pre-pandemic, since they added those special Saturday runs 😂

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16 hours ago, renardo870 said:

Has there been any talk of resuming all of Metra services back to pre Covid-19 levels and/or expanding service? I believe Metra had a survey for customers to fill out July 20th to Aug 5th. I know that Metra UP-North needs to have earlier service on Sundays and Holidays going to Waukegan or Kenosha...10:35 AM outbound departure is definitely too late as the other outbound departures begin as early as 4:50 AM to 6:40 AM. 

Amtrak Hiawatha Service 1st Outbound  Sunday train to Milwaukee leaves Union Station at 6:25 AM and the 1st NICTD South Shore train leaves Millennium Park at 8:40 AM towards South Bend, IN.

UPN did not have a service before 10:35am on Su and Holidays pre-covid either. I lloked back at my old CNW-N timetables and 10:25am is the earliest the first N train has left downtown back as far as 1980.

They have expanded service on the busy lines. From 7/12/21 pilot schemes were introduced on UP North (expanded off-peak service to 30 minutes to Winnetka), BNSF (increased off-peak from every two hours to every hour) and Metra Electric and on Rock Island (separate Joliet and Beverly branch trains meeting at Blue Island)from 7/19/21. The pilot schedules stepped away from pre-pandemic schedules that prioritized peak rush-hour service in favor of a more balanced approach that spreads out the service to offer better off-peak options.

Also on 7/12/2021 rush hour trains were expended on Heritage Corridor, Milwaukee District North and West, SouthWest Service, North Central Service and Union Pacific Northwest and West lines. The three UP lines had additional services added on 9/13/2021.

On 3/28/2022 BNSF weekday service was expanded from 86 to 91 trains. On 4/25/2022 Metra introduced a new timetable on the NW line, increasing service from 45 to 66 trains and replacing the random express train service at rush hour with a re-imagined one, which involves three service patterns slow train to Palatine, Express to Des Plaines then all stations to Barrington (some to McHenry) and express to Palatine then all station to Crystal Lake/Harvard repeating every 30 minutes. This has not been welcomed where I live in Arlington Heights but the first major change to a rush hour timetable since Maetra was formed.

There is still not the traffic to restore the rush hour service totally to pre-pandemic levels, but I believe Metra is taking a responsible approach, modifying timetables and adding trains as needed without running empty trains.

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3 hours ago, busfan2847 said:

UPN did not have a service before 10:35am on Su and Holidays pre-covid either. I lloked back at my old CNW-N timetables and 10:25am is the earliest the first N train has left downtown back as far as 1980.

They have expanded service on the busy lines. From 7/12/21 pilot schemes were introduced on UP North (expanded off-peak service to 30 minutes to Winnetka), BNSF (increased off-peak from every two hours to every hour) and Metra Electric and on Rock Island (separate Joliet and Beverly branch trains meeting at Blue Island)from 7/19/21. The pilot schedules stepped away from pre-pandemic schedules that prioritized peak rush-hour service in favor of a more balanced approach that spreads out the service to offer better off-peak options.

Also on 7/12/2021 rush hour trains were expended on Heritage Corridor, Milwaukee District North and West, SouthWest Service, North Central Service and Union Pacific Northwest and West lines. The three UP lines had additional services added on 9/13/2021.

On 3/28/2022 BNSF weekday service was expanded from 86 to 91 trains. On 4/25/2022 Metra introduced a new timetable on the NW line, increasing service from 45 to 66 trains and replacing the random express train service at rush hour with a re-imagined one, which involves three service patterns slow train to Palatine, Express to Des Plaines then all stations to Barrington (some to McHenry) and express to Palatine then all station to Crystal Lake/Harvard repeating every 30 minutes. This has not been welcomed where I live in Arlington Heights but the first major change to a rush hour timetable since Maetra was formed.

There is still not the traffic to restore the rush hour service totally to pre-pandemic levels, but I believe Metra is taking a responsible approach, modifying timetables and adding trains as needed without running empty trains.

To your point about the UP-NW changes being unwelcome,  are you referring to the adjusted intervals from 20 to 30 minutes  or the fact that it appears that Arlington Heighrs isn't the first stop in an express zibe any longer?

My observation of the UP-W seems like the midday schedule is back to normal.  It's been a minute but it looked like some rush hour expresses had been restored    

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20 hours ago, artthouwill said:

To your point about the UP-NW changes being unwelcome,  are you referring to the adjusted intervals from 20 to 30 minutes  or the fact that it appears that Arlington Heighrs isn't the first stop in an express zibe any longer?

My observation of the UP-W seems like the midday schedule is back to normal.  It's been a minute but it looked like some rush hour expresses had been restored    

There wasn't a regular interval, or a regular stopping pattern before Covid, however there were a number of first stop Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights or Arlington Park. Having a regular 30 minute repeating cycle of three trains (express, limited, local) is an improvement.

Arlington Heights had the highest passenger count before Covid so they are upset that the expresses are first stop Palatine. People traveling from Arlington Heights (or any inner stations) to past Barrington also now have to change trains with up to a 20 minute wait at Palatine or Barrington.

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43 minutes ago, busfan2847 said:

There wasn't a regular interval, or a regular stopping pattern before Covid, however there were a number of first stop Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights or Arlington Park. Having a regular 30 minute repeating cycle of three trains (express, limited, local) is an improvement.

Arlington Heights had the highest passenger count before Covid so they are upset that the expresses are first stop Palatine. People traveling from Arlington Heights (or any inner stations) to past Barrington also now have to change trains with up to a 20 minute wait at Palatine or Barrington.

That's interesting.   I know UP-W,  BNSF, RI, and ME all had 20 minute intervals during rush periods prepandemic 

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1 hour ago, artthouwill said:

That's interesting.   I know UP-W,  BNSF, RI, and ME all had 20 minute intervals during rush periods prepandemic 

This was the UP-NW timetable from Ogilvie between 4pm to 6:30pm:-

4:05 All stations to Harvard

4:39 Clybourn, express to Park Ridge, Des Plaines then all stations to Barrington, express to Crystal Lake

4:45 Clybourn, express to Barrington, then all stations to McHenry

4:57 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, Arlington Park, Palatine, Barrington, Cary, Pingree Rd, Crystal Lake

5:06 Clybourn, express to Des Plaines, then all stations (except Palatine) to Crystal Lake

5:12 Irving Park, all stations to Des Plaines, then express to Barrington

5:16 Arlington Park, Palatine, Crystal Lake, Woodstock, Harvard (regular conductor used to refer to this train as the Harvard 400 on the intercom!)

5:20 Clybourn, express to Arlington Heights, Arlington Park, Barrington all stations to McHenry

5:23 All stations (except Gladstone Park & Norwood Park) to Barrington

5:33 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, then all stations to Harvard

5:47 All stations to Crystal Lake

6:01 Clybourn, Arlington Heights, Barrington, then all stations to Crystal Lake

6:25 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, than all stations to Harvard

6:30 All stations to Crystal Lake

As you can see every express train had a different stopping pattern and there were no regular departures!

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2 hours ago, busfan2847 said:

This was the UP-NW timetable from Ogilvie between 4pm to 6:30pm:-

4:05 All stations to Harvard

4:39 Clybourn, express to Park Ridge, Des Plaines then all stations to Barrington, express to Crystal Lake

4:45 Clybourn, express to Barrington, then all stations to McHenry

4:57 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, Arlington Park, Palatine, Barrington, Cary, Pingree Rd, Crystal Lake

5:06 Clybourn, express to Des Plaines, then all stations (except Palatine) to Crystal Lake

5:12 Irving Park, all stations to Des Plaines, then express to Barrington

5:16 Arlington Park, Palatine, Crystal Lake, Woodstock, Harvard (regular conductor used to refer to this train as the Harvard 400 on the intercom!)

5:20 Clybourn, express to Arlington Heights, Arlington Park, Barrington all stations to McHenry

5:23 All stations (except Gladstone Park & Norwood Park) to Barrington

5:33 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, then all stations to Harvard

5:47 All stations to Crystal Lake

6:01 Clybourn, Arlington Heights, Barrington, then all stations to Crystal Lake

6:25 Clybourn, express to Mount Prospect, than all stations to Harvard

6:30 All stations to Crystal Lake

As you can see every express train had a different stopping pattern and there were no regular departures!

Seems like there's no rhyme or reason to that schedule.  I don't know if there's a staffing problem with UP, or PTC issues or just trying to spread oyr passenger loads.

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1 hour ago, artthouwill said:

Seems like there's no rhyme or reason to that schedule.  I don't know if there's a staffing problem with UP, or PTC issues or just trying to spread oyr passenger loads.

That was the prepandemic rush schedule from as far back as 1980 through to 2020. I used UP-NW in the rush every weekday from 1998 to 2018 when at work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Metra needs focus on off peak and weekend service.  Gaps of 2 -3 hours is not condusive to ridership.  Last outbound trains on weekends should not be at 1030pm or a gap of 2 hrs waiting in cold desolate stations or on the streets of chicago. .   Way too early for plays concerts sports events.   Also pet peeve is esp on Milwaukee lines not opening first 3 coaches forcing passengers to ealk past 3 cars at Union  Station. Great customer service.  

 

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10 hours ago, Railguy said:

Metra needs focus on off peak and weekend service.  Gaps of 2 -3 hours is not condusive to ridership.  Last outbound trains on weekends should not be at 1030pm or a gap of 2 hrs waiting in cold desolate stations or on the streets of chicago. .   Way too early for plays concerts sports events.   Also pet peeve is esp on Milwaukee lines not opening first 3 coaches forcing passengers to ealk past 3 cars at Union  Station. Great customer service.  

 

Hard agree. Weekend ridership is where Metra has bounced back the most. 2 hour headways on any lines are untenable, any potential delay or cancellation has the chance to be hugely disruptive.

This really chafes for the MED, because there’s so much more service they could provide, they just don’t. I’ve been saying for a minute that every station should at be seeing hourly or better service, especially north of Kensington, the trains and tracks are there. The flag stops would probably see more service if people knew a train would be coming every 30 mins as opposed to the current 60-120 if I ride outside of peak. When I’m in Chicago, I can’t leave the house and reasonably expect a MED train to show up in under 20 mins if I get off the 75, that’s a failure on Metra.

Same thing for BNSF, your busiest line can only muster 2 hour headways on the weekend? Ridiculous. These off-peak and weekend schedules need to start looking a lot more like what the RID & UPN (weekday, at least) is doing, especially as Metra begins to hire more workers. And to the point about locked off cars, it’s also time to consider running shorter consists, although I wonder how much of that is due to yard space

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7 hours ago, NewFlyerMCI said:

Hard agree. Weekend ridership is where Metra has bounced back the most. 2 hour headways on any lines are untenable, any potential delay or cancellation has the chance to be hugely disruptive.

Also pet peeve is esp on Milwaukee lines not opening first 3 coaches forcing passengers to walk past 3 cars at Union  Station. Great customer service.  

I never did understand not opening up the front cars on the Milwaukee Lines, even during non-rush weekdays, the first two cars were always closed off.

UP-N not only has 2-3 hour headways on the weekend, but on Saturdays they run train 817 that leaves Downtown Just one hour after 813 at 3:35 PM, but it skips many stops, so you must wait for 819 that makes all stops at 4:35 PM.

Then 821 expresses to Winnetka at 5:15 PM & skip stops to Waukegan, with the next all stop as 823 at 5:45 PM.

Then on Sundays, 817 leaves at 3:35 PM & skip stops its way north, leaving a 2 hour gap for the rest of up to wait from 2:35 PM.

Also, the RAV1 extra service to Ravinia in season makes no sense, as it's all stops from Downtown to Central St Evanston & then expresses to Ravinia.  What, they don't think people in Wilmette, Winnetka & Kenilworth might like to leave their cars at home & take the train to see a concert?

Whoever creates these schedules, obviously never rides the trains!  All weekend & holiday trains should be all stops.

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9 hours ago, strictures said:

Also, the RAV1 extra service to Ravinia in season makes no sense, as it's all stops from Downtown to Central St Evanston & then expresses to Ravinia.  What, they don't think people in Wilmette, Winnetka & Kenilworth might like to leave their cars at home & take the train to see a concert?

Whoever creates these schedules, obviously never rides the trains!  All weekend & holiday trains should be all stops.

You might be right about Ravinia, but at the same time, those destinations are closer and definitely within driving distance. Many might not make the choice to drive and wait for the train when it's time neutral to just drive. Making all stops in the city & Evanston where there is little or no parking and lots of walk-up ridership (or, I should say, there's a larger share of walk-up riders) isn't a 1:1 comparison.

I agree about weekend & holiday trains being all stops. If express trains are needed, they need to operate like the MED, RID or UPN, in two patterns for each half of the line

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17 hours ago, NewFlyerMCI said:

Hard agree. Weekend ridership is where Metra has bounced back the most. 2 hour headways on any lines are untenable, any potential delay or cancellation has the chance to be hugely disruptive.

This really chafes for the MED, because there’s so much more service they could provide, they just don’t. I’ve been saying for a minute that every station should at be seeing hourly or better service, especially north of Kensington, the trains and tracks are there. The flag stops would probably see more service if people knew a train would be coming every 30 mins as opposed to the current 60-120 if I ride outside of peak. When I’m in Chicago, I can’t leave the house and reasonably expect a MED train to show up in under 20 mins if I get off the 75, that’s a failure on Metra.

Same thing for BNSF, your busiest line can only muster 2 hour headways on the weekend? Ridiculous. These off-peak and weekend schedules need to start looking a lot more like what the RID & UPN (weekday, at least) is doing, especially as Metra begins to hire more workers. And to the point about locked off cars, it’s also time to consider running shorter consists, although I wonder how much of that is due to yard space

Commuter service in general is downtown based

  Metra 's big generator is downtown Chicago.  Even with the pandemic and the loss of downtown ridership,  downtown Chicago is still the main generator of traffic on all lines.  The majority still come downtown in the morning and go home in the evening. There aren't any generators for reverse commutes.  The University of Chicago is a secondary generator for the ME. but it too is peak direction driven.

As for the 2 hr off peak gaps, remember that Metra doesn't own the trackage of its diesel lines.  They can't just add service without getting the parent railroad 's permission.   While one would think the UP-N and UP-NW should be able to add service because they have little to no freight service,  it might not be that simple.    The other lines have significant freight service that already has to work around Metra peak service.   Railroads got out of passenger rail rail because it interfered with their profitable freight operations.  Combine that with low demand at certain times and you have the 2 hour gaps, which have been in place for a long time. 

ME is the line exception.   It has always had hourly off peak and Saturday service.   It also has no freight interference and Metra owns all of the trackage.   There's also the issue of staffing.   Since the diesel line train consists can get very long, opening all cars would require more personnel.     Closing cars mitigates that to some degree.  ME consists are generally smaller  and require less per train personnel giving it the ability to have more crews.   Even the South Chicago branch only uses 1 car of a 4 car consists for passengers during off peak hours. 

St least BNSF offers a Saturday morning express from Downers Grove and a Saturday afternoon express to Downers Grove  which is very popular. 

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Ravinia service is a joke.  The members gate opens 3.5 hrs before show general opens 3.  Folks line up to get a good spot.  Real estate is everything.   for an 8 pm show members get in at 430.  Metra 1st stop at Ravinia Park is around 550pm.   Way too late to be useful.  Sure you can ealk in grom Braside with full pack  but its not convenient.  So funny watching trains go by Ravinia Park station not stopping some very slow as leaving Braside.  Thus most folks drive to get their spot.  So much potential.   

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14 minutes ago, Railguy said:

As far as opening more cars, its the location of cars that are opened on the Milwaukee.  They always did it that way is not an excuse.  Passengers have a real choice and will and have gone elsewhere

I knowBNSF usually keeps the car nearest the locomotive and the last/first car closed unless it's something going on.   For instance,  all cars will be used on the first train Sunday because the Bears are playing a noon game. 

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Outbound why keep the last cars/cab car closed?   I can see some rational for in bound trains using the passenger safety defence.   Yet if they do claim this, any ambulance chasing lawyer  will be all over this as rush hr trains use cab car and most other lines such as UP.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Although the RTA celebrated 1 million weeday trips Metra is still running about 1/4 of prepandemic riders: the Aug 2019 report states ridership of about 6500, while the Aug. 2022 report says 1600. Pace has also cited this trend, as well as lower Metra ridership on Monday and Friday, in support of solutions other than feeders.

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  • 1 month later...

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Metra UP West (UP-W) Line riders will have greatly expanded options just in time for the winter season when a new pilot schedule goes into effect on Monday, Dec. 5.

Metra will be adding 18 trains (nine inbound and nine outbound) to its weekday service, for a total of 58 trains from the current 40. As with Metra’s other post-pandemic pilot schedule revisions, the new UP-W schedule offers more consistent service patterns and departure times, making the schedule easier for customers to understand and memorize. For example, most midday trains will now arrive in Chicago on the :50s past the hour and depart Chicago on the :40s past the hour.

“We have said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that Metra is committed to adjusting its schedules to meet growing ridership and our riders’ changing needs,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We are greatly encouraged by the growth in ridership so far this year and are happy that we are able to expand service on the UP-West Line to provide commuters with another option as winter sets in.”

Metra surveyed its riders this summer to ensure the newly scheduled trains served the most requested times. During the morning rush, UP-W riders from Elmhurst and most points west will now have inbound trains stopping every 10 to 20 minutes, and riders traveling from Berkeley and points east will have trains stopping at their stations every 30 minutes or better, with trains stopping in Oak Park every 10 to 25 minutes. Outbound service for the evening rush will operate with similar headways and service patterns. A new type of express train making limited stops to and from Glen Ellyn has also been added in both the morning and evening rush hours. Reverse commuters will now also have an express service option in the morning and the evening.

Midday service on the line will operate every 60 to 90 minutes, and every midday train will now stop at the Melrose Park, Maywood and Kedzie stations. During late night hours, most stations will have hourly service.

The new UP-W schedule can be viewed here. In addition to the new trains, train times have been adjusted throughout the schedule, and all customers are advised to review the new schedule to determine if their current trains are affected or if new trains better meet their needs. Metra will monitor customer feedback and operations and make future schedule adjustments as necessary.

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Still miss serving weekend markets with 2 hour gaps and horrible outbound evening service.  going to concerts, plays , sports weddings etc is difficult.   Either need to rush out of event or sit around in not very friendly environments.  Driving is an alternative at that point.

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6 hours ago, renardo870 said:

Metra UP West (UP-W) Line riders will have greatly expanded options just in time for the winter season when a new pilot schedule goes into effect on Monday, Dec. 5.

Metra will be adding 18 trains (nine inbound and nine outbound) to its weekday service, for a total of 58 trains from the current 40. As with Metra’s other post-pandemic pilot schedule revisions, the new UP-W schedule offers more consistent service patterns and departure times, making the schedule easier for customers to understand and memorize. For example, most midday trains will now arrive in Chicago on the :50s past the hour and depart Chicago on the :40s past the hour.

“We have said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that Metra is committed to adjusting its schedules to meet growing ridership and our riders’ changing needs,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We are greatly encouraged by the growth in ridership so far this year and are happy that we are able to expand service on the UP-West Line to provide commuters with another option as winter sets in.”

Metra surveyed its riders this summer to ensure the newly scheduled trains served the most requested times. During the morning rush, UP-W riders from Elmhurst and most points west will now have inbound trains stopping every 10 to 20 minutes, and riders traveling from Berkeley and points east will have trains stopping at their stations every 30 minutes or better, with trains stopping in Oak Park every 10 to 25 minutes. Outbound service for the evening rush will operate with similar headways and service patterns. A new type of express train making limited stops to and from Glen Ellyn has also been added in both the morning and evening rush hours. Reverse commuters will now also have an express service option in the morning and the evening.

Midday service on the line will operate every 60 to 90 minutes, and every midday train will now stop at the Melrose Park, Maywood and Kedzie stations. During late night hours, most stations will have hourly service.

The new UP-W schedule can be viewed here. In addition to the new trains, train times have been adjusted throughout the schedule, and all customers are advised to review the new schedule to determine if their current trains are affected or if new trains better meet their needs. Metra will monitor customer feedback and operations and make future schedule adjustments as necessary.

Thanks for mentioning the new schedule. Here's the link if anyone needs it:

https://metra.com/alternate-schedules#Union_Pacific_West

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