Give Metra control of Union Station, Lipinski says

  • U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski questions Amtrak and Metra leaders at an April 2019 hearing in Chicago.

      U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski questions Amtrak and Metra leaders at an April 2019 hearing in Chicago. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/13/2019 11:19 AM

Amtrak should give up control of Union Station in light of some "disastrous" mishaps, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski said Wednesday at an oversight hearing.

"Improvements must be made at Union Station," said the Western Springs Democrat, who chairs the House Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I believe the best way to do this would be for Amtrak to give operational control of the station to ensure that its operations improve to the level that passengers deserve."

Amtrak pushed back.

"Amtrak has no plans to transfer Chicago Union Station ownership or operations," spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Lipinski said he also was concerned about Amtrak outsourcing jobs and potentially cutting long-distance routes, but he focused on Union Station. He citing overcrowding, service disruptions and the conditions on platforms and waiting areas.

Metra trains comprise about 75 percent of traffic at Union Station and 90 percent of passengers, although Amtrak owns the facility and controls operations.

Lipinski cited "major issues this year" at Union Station, "including falling concrete at the station that hit a Metra train and a disastrous service outage in February that lasted through multiple rush hours that was solely Amtrak's fault."

More than 60,000 Union Station riders endured delays Feb. 28 after an Amtrak technician doing an upgrade fell on a circuit board while holding a live wire. As a result, communications equipment, which controls train signals, shorted out.

Metra officials have lobbied to take over operations at Union Station for some time.

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