'Enhanced' Metra schedules are coming

  • Metra is hoping to add more trains to several lines that were reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Metra is hoping to add more trains to several lines that were reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle Grillot/Shaw Local News Network

Updated 11/15/2022 6:32 PM

Suburban Metra riders could see more trains chugging into stations in the coming days, officials said.

The changes will affect passengers on the Union Pacific and Milwaukee District lines among others, Metra Executive Director Jim Derwinski said at a board meeting Friday.


"New schedules are coming. We're very, very close to finishing all the logistics with our freight partners," Derwinski said.

"We anticipate announcements in the next week or two on enhanced schedules on the UP West, Milwaukee West, Milwaukee North, North Central Service and SouthWest Service."

The agency has been incrementally beefing up its service, which officials slashed as COVID-19 surged in spring 2020 and riders stayed home.

For example, the North Central Service, between downtown and Antioch, currently has no trains on weekends.

The first increases were to the popular BNSF Line in March this year, then to the UP Northwest Line in April. The railroad also upped trains on the UP North, but construction projects on that route have affected normalization.

Details are still being worked out with freight railroads, such as Union Pacific, that have operating agreements with Metra.

"We've been busily hiring," Derwinski said. "We were able to fill some of the holes and then, working with our freight partners, we're looking forward to getting finalization of those agreements so that those enhancements of schedules can be rolled out very soon."

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He also promised "minor modifications to the Rock Island and Heritage Corridor, and more to come."

The news came as Metra directors approved a $980 million 2023 budget for operations, which includes salaries and diesel fuel.

Expenditures were about $80 million higher than the 2022 operating budget due mainly to inflation and adding employees, administrators said.

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