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updated: 6/20/2014 4:50 PM

BNSF pledges better communication in light of train delays

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  • Work on the BNSF Line has caused commuters grief the last two months.

      Work on the BNSF Line has caused commuters grief the last two months.
    Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer, May 2014


BNSF Railroad officials fell on their swords for unanticipated slowdowns on the Metra line caused by repairs this month and pledged Friday to do better.

The railroad has made "a huge commitment it won't happen again," BNSF executive Dan Rankin told Metra directors at a Friday meeting.

BNSF conducted an audit of its tracks and infrastructure recently and sent out crews to correct problems in early June. But delays caused by the work weren't communicated to BNSF Line riders, officials said.

The work also came on the heels of recent replacements to 20,000 rail ties on the central track of the BNSF Line between Chicago and Hinsdale that required speed restrictions.

Metra Director Romayne Brown asked why Metra wasn't "at the table," when BNSF set the dates for the repairs, which also meant that riders didn't get advance notice of longer-than-scheduled trips.

In some cases, trains were going as slow as 10 mph.

In the future, BNSF will announce dates of audits well in advance so riders can prepare, said Rankin, BNSF's general director of maintenance for Illinois.

Metra planners noted Friday that the BNSF's on-time performance was only 82 percent in May and just 80 percent on-time during rush hour last month. That compares to the entire system running 94.5 percent on-time in May.

Track construction overall in May caused 206 delays.

Also Friday, Chairman Martin Oberman announced the board's July meeting would be held at the Will County board's offices in Joliet as part of an outreach effort.

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