If it seems the reconstruction of tracks on the Metra BNSF line is taking a long time, that’s because it is.
The replacement of 20,000 railroad ties and resurfacing of 17 miles of center track between Chicago and Hinsdale began April 14, and was to be completed by April 30. Metra officials are now looking at May 30 for completion of the project, which will include nighttime work on the tracks from La Grange through Hinsdale in the days.
In the meantime, regular trains have experienced regular delays, particularly express trains that utilize the center track during the rush hours.
“This project, which is the equivalent of replacing a lane of a major highway, is a part of the regular maintenance necessary to keep our rail lines in the best condition possible,” said Don Orseno, the executive director of Metra. “Because the work is taking place between two active tracks used by both commuter and freight services, trains must operate at reduced speeds and work must be halted repeatedly so that trains can proceed safely through the work zone.”
Orseno said speed restrictions are also in place after work is completed to allow the track to resettle.
“These factors have extended the time necessary to complete the project and have caused delays greater than originally anticipated,” he said.
The good news is once this work is done, there are no major track projects planned for the BNSF line scheduled this summer.
The BNSF line carries more riders than any other Metra line, in addition to freight traffic and Amtrak train routes.