Officials call on railroad to make room for more Metra Heritage Corridor trains
By Bob Okon Sun-Times Media December 17, 2012 6:30PM
Passengers board a Chicago bound Metra train at Union Station in Joliet, Illinois, Friday, October 19, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 19, 2013 6:22AM
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) and other local officials are asking the Canadian National Railway to free up its tracks for more trains on Metra’s Heritage Corridor Line, which runs from Joliet to Union Station in Chicago using CN’s rails.
About 20 mayors and other officials joined Lipinski on Monday in the appeal, days after Metra made the same request in a letter to CN.
“We understand that service is constrained by CN freight traffic and infrastructure limitations, but we believe that modest adjustments in freight schedules would make it possible to add at least one additional train in the morning and one in the evening,” Lipinski said in a statement.
Lipinski said the Heritage Corridor Line is not keeping up with population growth in Will and southwest Cook counties.
Only six trains a day run on the Heritage Corridor Line — three during the morning rush and three during the evening rush. Metra’s other 10 commuter routes offer between 22 and 170 trains a day, Lipinski’s office said.
Heritage Corridor stops include Lockport, Lemont, Willow Springs and Summit. Romeoville is about to start construction of a station for the Heritage Corridor line.
Joliet is building a new transportation center to accommodate what the city foresees as future growth in Metra and Amtrak ridership. Metra runs the Heritage Corridor and Rock Island lines out of Joliet. Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante was among those signing on to a letter calling on CN to make room for more Heritage Corridor trains.
“I get reports from Metra that use of the line is increasing,” Giarrante said. “We’re looking for more usage, more trains and getting more people downtown.”
CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said “significant capacity upgrades” would be needed to make more room on the railway for Heritage Corridor trains. He said the corridor already is very heavily used by Metra, Amtrak and freight trains.
“We would be pleased to discuss the potential for adding this Metra service if government funding is available to make the investments necessary to address the limitations of the infrastructure on this line,” Waldron said.