Trains at Union Station should be running normally Friday morning after a signal outage caused a massive disruption for commuters Thursday.
“The communications network between the control center and the track switch and signal system went out of service at about 8:30 a.m. today,” Amtrak said in a statement. “The system is now in service to support the full schedule of Amtrak and Metra trains. In addition, Amtrak will have additional crews on stand-by tomorrow.”
Amtrak apologized for the disruption and said the root cause was under investigation.
Commuters were being urged to make alternate plans or expect extensive delays earlier Thursday as signal issues continued to affect trains at Union Station for the afternoon and evening rush hour.
Amtrak and Metra trains have been operating with delays since Thursday morning when Amtrak signal issues halted trains.
A communication issue between Amtrak’s automated system and the signals and switches at the station halted all train movement about 8:30 a.m., according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
All Amtrak trains and Metra BNSF trains were stopped because of the issue, according to Magliari and Metra officials. Trains were moving again with extensive delays by 10 a.m.
Magliari said the switches are being operated manually while crews work on repairs.
By 3 p.m. Thursday, Metra and Amtrak said the issue remained ongoing and service issues continued.
Metra urged riders to monitor alerts and, if needed, make alternate plans as trains that do leave the station will likely be delayed.
“Riders should expect extensive delays and seek alternate transportation,” Metra tweeted around 3:30 p.m. “The overcrowding plan has been implemented at the station.”
Amtrak said the issue is expected to last through the evening commute.
“If the signal went up at this moment we’re still already with enough residual delays that will last surely through the rest of the afternoon rush hour,” Magliari said just after 4:30 p.m.
Amtrak said officials would update later Thursday evening on whether the morning commute would also be affected. The cause of the issue remained unknown.
“In my time here, which is now about 18 years I’ve not seen a signal control system outage of this duration,” Magliari said. “It’s been a long interruption and we want to make sure that we apologize to our customers, to Metra’s customers and others who have been inconvenienced.”
Officials said as many as 60,000 Metra commuters will be affected by the issue during the afternoon rush. Trains on the BNSF Line, the agency’s busiest, will be “load and go,” Metra said. This means riders should assume BNSF trains will not be operating on any schedule and will leave as soon as a train is full.
BNSF trains will make all stops between Union Station and Downers Grove Main Street and all stops between Downers Grove Main Street and Aurora. Still, riders on that line were urged to use the Union Pacific West Line, if possible.
“Inbound service will be extremely limited,” Metra said.
Other lines experiencing extensive delays were the Heritage Corridor, SouthWest Service, Milwaukee District North, Milwaukee District West and North Central Service.
Metra noted that the Chicago Transit Authority will honor Metra passes on the Orange, Blue, Pink and Green lines “until further notice.”