Metra CEO Explains Recent UP North Delay

Alex Clifford's statement addressed Wednesday evening's delay after a "pedestrian incident" on the tracks in Rogers Park.

The Metra northbound lines experienced significant delays during the afternoon rush hour on Wednesday for what was then being described as a "trespasser fatality." The incident, which occurred around 4:45 p.m., delayed many northbound trains for up to two hours. It is still unclear whether the incident was an accident or a suicide, nor has the name of the victim been released yet.

The following is a statement from Alex Clifford, Metra Executive Director/CEO:

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delays on the UP North line Wednesday night due to an unfortunate pedestrian incident at the Rogers Park Station. Unfortunately, service recovery following such horrible events is complex. As you may or may not know, the service restoration following one of these events involves local police, UP police, Metra police and the county coroner. Respectful removal of the remains can be time consuming and often ties up both tracks, and in this instance it took an unusually long time. No two such incidents can be handled the same way and it is therefore difficult for dispatchers to communicate accurate estimates of the time it will take to get the train moving again.

When trains were allowed to resume operations through Rogers Park, only one track – the inbound track – was initially available. That created a bit of a bottleneck. Outbound trains were given priority through the single-track section, but we could not fully ignore inbound trains, first because we needed to clear the inbound track for outbound service, and later because the inbound trains were needed at Ogilvie in order to turn them around for outbound service. Unfortunately some outbound trains had to wait longer than anticipated after they left Ogilvie for inbound trains to clear the single-track section.

While I appreciate the feeling of being trapped on a train, it is not safe to allow customers to get off trains in between stations. We do however have a standing policy to try and get clearance to pull into a station when we can. Unfortunately, for safety and operational reasons that option is not always available depending on the number of trains on the line.

Finally, we expect our conductors and downtown station personnel to update riders frequently during such incidents, even if there is no new information to convey.  We are reinforcing with Union Pacific the need to make sure conductors are making timely, accurate and frequent announcements.

Again, please accept my sincere apologies for service issues Wednesday night.

Alex Clifford

Executive Director/CEO 

Linda December 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM
It was a horrible tradegy, but I appreciated the updates and information provided by the conductor while I was waiting at Ogilvie and during the wait on the tracks heading north. I had a choice to take the red line but decided to wait. I believe metra personnel was very helpful and constantly updated us on what information they had.


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