Metra announced a new schedule for its Rock Island line that includes changes necessary for the new safety system.
The new schedule will start on a trial basis Jan. 28, according to a news release from Metra. Operations and ridership patterns will be evaluated over the next few months. Customers are urged to view the new schedule online at metrarail.com to see whether their train or stop is affected.
Metra did not make changes to the weekend schedule. The Rock Island line runs from Joliet through New Lenox, Mokena and Tinley Park to Chicago.
In crafting the new schedule, Metra considered the comments of more than 800 people who emailed the agency about the initial proposed schedule and made adjustments where possible. Those changes include restoring departure times at certain stations and retaining a proposed train that arrives in downtown Chicago before 6 a.m.
The new safety system, called Positive Train Control, is federally mandated, according to Metra, and will help with trains needing to make emergency stops and prevent them from derailing. It automatically will stop a train if the engineer fails to obey a signal or exceeds the speed limit. The system integrates GPS, trackside sensors and communication units, onboard computers and Metra’s centralized train dispatching system.
These components track trains and monitor the crew’s compliance with speed restrictions and signals. PTC will increase safety by preventing train-to-train collisions, unauthorized entry by trains into work zones and derailments because of speeding or moving through misaligned track switches.
PTC already was installed and is fully operational on the BNSF Railway Line, which caused some delays and upset customers. There were so many complaints that Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, called a community meeting on the matter. Metra explained that the BNSF Line was a particular challenge because of the massive number of customers and trains using that line, but added that such interruptions won’t be as bad on other lines.
Other Metra lines will see PTC installed in the coming years, including the Heritage Corridor line, which runs from Joliet through Lockport and Romeoville to Chicago, in 2020. Metra said the Heritage Corridor line shouldn’t see any interruptions or massive changes because of the relatively few trains that go through those stops.