Colder weather means fewer trains for Metra riders

Metra commuters who venture out Thursday will travel on a modified schedule with fewer trains in an effort to reduce equipment and mechanical problems caused by a punishing cold front.

The railroad already instituted a modified schedule for today, when temperatures will sink below zero. Although it will warm up a smidgen Thursday, the wind chill will create dangerous conditions, officials said.

Reducing trains reflects an anticipated ridership dip and puts less stress on the system, giving Metra crews a chance to recover without back-to-back traffic if breakdowns occur. Trains also will run at slower speeds.

Meanwhile, air travelers are urged to check their airline schedules and anticipate weather-related delays. As of late afternoon Tuesday, airlines had canceled 287 flights at O'Hare and 286 at Midway international airports.

Chicago deployed extra workers to remove snow Monday and stand by "in anticipation of more snow and high winds," Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said. "We are working closely with the airlines to mitigate the impact of temperatures on their operations and will keep passengers informed during this winter weather advisory."

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