ROMEOVILLE – U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, renewed his call for more commuter trains on the Heritage Corridor line with Metra’s new executive director.
The Heritage Corridor Metra service has three round-trip trains that make stops in Joliet, Lockport, Lemont, Willow Springs, Summit and Union Station in Chicago. That number is small compared to other Metra lines, and Lipinski in the past has called for more routes for commuters.
On Monday, the congressman sent the message again along with a letter of congratulations to Don Orseno, who became Metra’s executive director Jan. 31. Lipinski asked Orseno to address the issue, also asking him to address Heritage Corridor services with Canadian National Railway Co., the owner of the railway.
Canadian National said the railroad needs infrastructure improvements before more trains can be added.
“Metra is going to have to push and put pressure on [Canadian National],” Lipinski said. “Metra has been unable to move on this in the past. I’m hopeful with more stability at the head, we can move forward and try to encourage CN to add more service.”
Orseno issued a statement saying he shared the congressman’s goals for increasing performance on all railway lines.
“I look forward to working with him on these very important Heritage Corridor issues,” Orseno said.
Lipinski said ridership on the line has increased 25 percent in the past 10 years. But service has not changed enough to accommodate the higher traffic, and Canadian National has been unwilling to cooperate to provide more train service.
Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldron said senior officials have regularly talked with Lipinski and Metra officials regarding the Heritage Corridor line. But infrastructure upgrades must be made before the line – also used by Amtrak and for freight – can accommodate more Metra trains, he said.
“The issue is in order to add more commuter service, capacity studies show infrastructure upgrades are needed,” Waldron said, adding Canadian National is more than willing to work with Metra to obtain grants to improve the infrastructure of the railway.
Lipinski said he understood the concerns with railway infrastructure but thinks Canadian National can make room for another train without significant upgrades.
Lipinski said he has been having discussions with local officials for the past three years about how service can be improved along the line.
One of those discussions involved adding a new Romeoville station at 135th Street and New Avenue. The station is in the planning phase but could be done within the next 18 to 24 months.
Romeoville Mayor John Noak said residents in his town are travelling long distances to other Heritage Corridor stations or to other Metra lines.
The new Romeoville station, Noak said, “would reduce traffic and give more parking to residents, one of the major issues.”