OMAHA, Neb. — Improved passenger and freight train flow, an enhanced safety design, and a reduced environmental footprint are among the benefits of the Metra Union Pacific west line improvement project.
Work at the stations is scheduled to begin in March and conclude near the end of 2010. Metra service will not be disrupted while the project is under way.
“These improvements will help create a more fluid railroad operation, decrease commuter and freight delays, and reduce motorist wait time at grade crossings,” said Phil Pagano, Metra executive director. “These upgrades address today’s west line rail traffic congestion issues and are essential if we want to consider potential new Metra starts in the years to come.”
“We will be able to relieve some high levels of congestion we currently experience and better serve our customers,” said Dennis Duffy, Union Pacific executive vice president, operations. “The combination of station improvements and grade crossing warning devices at Metra stations will create an enhanced safety environment for pedestrians at the stations.”
Improved Train Flow
Completion of the third main line on the route will provide capacity to keep trains moving. Installing two universal crossovers will close a 15-mile gap between crossovers on the line, increasing the use of multiple tracks to bypass rail congestion. An upgraded rail signal system will allow trains to safely operate closer together and improve train flow.
While there are no current plans to increase overall train volume on the west line, other trains will be able to operate while commuter trains are in stations as a result of the upgrades.
These improvements will result in up to a 50 percent reduction in passenger and freight train delays, Metra on-time performance will improve, and overall grade crossing gate downtime will improve by at least 11 percent. Communities also will see fewer trains parked for extended periods of time.
Enhanced Station Safety
Metra and Union Pacific have studied station improvement initiatives across the country. The west line safety infrastructure incorporates the best practices, creating the most comprehensive safety system of any commuter rail operation in the United States, including the following elements:
- An enhanced pedestrian train warning system called “Another-Train Warning System” (ATWS)
- Additional pedestrian gates
- Improved pedestrian flow control
- Inter track fencing
- Brighter, more conspicuous platform signs
- Eliminated mid-platform pedestrian crossings
The ATWS system will be the first of its kind in the U.S. to be fully implemented at stations along a commuter line. This system warns pedestrians at crossings adjacent to stations that “another train” is approaching or present, with a combination of audio and visual alerts. This system will be installed in addition to pedestrian crossing gates at station grade crossings.
Environmental benefits from the west line improvement project include improved locomotive fuel efficiency. Benefits also include reduced locomotive and vehicle emissions as a result of improved train flow and less engine idling. Union Pacific locomotives will use up to 160,000 fewer gallons of diesel fuel per year. That’s enough fuel for a typical Union Pacific train to travel the circumference of the Earth almost two times.
Station improvements will be completed in three segments, with estimated completion of the first two segments near the end of 2009 or in early 2010. The third segment is scheduled to be completed near the end of 2010.
- Segment I – Maywood, Melrose Park, Bellwood, Berkeley
- Segment II – Winfield, Geneva
- Segment III – Elmhurst, Villa Park, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, College Avenue, Wheaton
Project updates and progress will be provided at www.metraupwest.com.