Commuters faced a frosty fiasco on Tuesday morning as the Metra BNSF line was bogged down by icy conditions, causing trains to run nearly an hour behind schedule.
Frozen switches near Cicero Avenue and Congress Parkway kicked off delays at about 6:30 a.m., with a Metral spokesperson confirming in a statement obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times that the switches were later thawed, but the damage to the schedule was done. Some trains were seen operating express, skipping stops in both directions as a countermeasure.
It's a familiar grind for Metro riders—who, upon winter's grasp on the city's infrastructure, find frustration in the frigid morning commutes. With a guide to service disruptions boldly presented on their website, Metra details their commitment to passenger safety and timely communication amidst such chilling incidents—assuring riders that the coldest months will not leave their schedules frozen.
According to Metra's "How Metra Handles Service Disruptions" page, these cold conundrums are just one flavor of delay riders might have to lick. Mechanical gremlins, trackside tragedies, and even the angry breath of Mother Nature herself—extreme weather—can cause the steely serpents of Chicago to slow or stutter. The company assures that they employ "preventative measures and around-the-clock personnel" to resolve many issues preemptively, but as Jack Frost's icy fingers grip tighter, some delays are as inevitable as winter itself.
And while Chicago Union Station sees its fair share of the hustle, a special Service Disruption Plan is in place, which herds BNSF passengers along a corridor, avoiding the tangle at the escalators. The Metra assures with a bullhorn and announcement, helping to marshal the crowds during such unexpected halts, as detailed on the same service page.