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Brace for evening delays, Metra warns

Despite bitter cold, Metra wrapped up the morning rush without any cancellations, while Amtrak planned a second day of cancellations to 16 of its Chicago hub trains.

With subzero temperatures expected for the evening rush, Metra was warning riders to brace for delays Monday night, as trains travel 10 mph more slowly when the mercury hits zero to reduce stress on rails. Plus, riders often need more time to board in colder climes.

Amtrak announced that it was cancelling another 16 on Tuesday, in addition to the 16 Monday trains canceled.

That included trains on Amtrak’s Lincoln, Hiawatha, Wolverine, Illinois Zephyr-Carl Sandburg and Saluki-Illinois lines.

The action followed outcry over hundreds of Amtrak passengers left stranded overnight in Northern Illinois by heavy snow early this month.

Metra also also experienced rocky performance during the Jan. 6-7 “Chi-Beria,’’ but Monday’s morning commute was less eventful, despite the subzero temperatures.

No Metra lines saw cancellations, although most experienced delays of 10 minutes or less, said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. A smattering of trains saw delays of at least 15 minutes.

Late in the morning, one outbound and two inbound Rock Island Metra trains were stopped on tracks for up to 80 minutes because of a stalled Canadian National Railway freight train with mechanical problems, Metra officials said.

Following a barrage of complaints that Metra didn’t communicate well with its riders during the earlier deep freeze, Metra’s website warned riders all weekend to expect weather delays Monday.

Metra’s performance during the bitter cold and snow snap earlier this month had been among the topics up for hearing by the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee Monday. However, in yet another apparent weather development, Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, said the hearing was canceled.



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