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Thursday, May 16, 2013

METRA Union Pacific Delays Due To Computer System Failure For The Switches Controlling Traffic Flow

A Message to Union Pacific Riders: Metra Union Pacific Riders Metra apologizes for delays you experienced last night on our Union Pacific lines. We understand that service delays and subsequent confusion for riders trying to board trains at the Ogilvie Transportation Center (OTC) yesterday evening created a very stressful situation for many of our riders. The delays you experienced last evening were caused by the failure of a computer system for the switches that control the traffic flow in and out of OTC. When a failure of this type occurs, all train traffic must be stopped for safety reasons. We were able to resume service by reverting to manual operation of these switching points; however, manual operations restrict train speeds and do not permit the same volume of train traffic. The computer system was restored at approximately 4:35 p.m., but by that point, train traffic in and out of the station had been impeded for more than an hour with most of the equipment used to operate our rush hour trains waiting outside the station for platform assignments. This congestion resulted in multiple changes in platform assignments as trains were assigned the first available platform. Metra and UP personnel worked to communicate these changes and continually updated the passenger information displays in the station and on the platforms. However, many of our passengers have communicated to us that they feel that we did not do enough at the station to help them navigate to the train that they needed. Metra knows that our on-time performance is something our passengers count on and last night's delays disrupted many riders' evening routines. Communication during any service disruption is always a challenge but can always be improved. We understand our passengers' frustration and are working with our partners at the Union Pacific to analyze yesterday's events and develop ways to improve our performance - especially as it pertains to customer communication. Again, we regret the delay and aggravation that our customers experienced as a result of this incident.

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