Metra adds more trains to BNSF line as ridership inches back

Morning and afternoon rush-hour Metra BNSF commuters will get more breathing room as the agency increases trains curtailed early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, March 28, Metra will debut four new BNSF trains, restore three, and retire two routes. That’s a total of 91 trains compared to the current 86.

The changes are intended to reduce crowding and come as a result of rider requests and monitoring passenger trends, officials said.

To accommodate the additional trips, Metra will make multiple adjustments to schedules that range from altering departure times to dropping or adding stops. To view the new weekday schedules, go to metra.com.

Here’s a look at some of the most significant revisions.

• Two new morning trains to Chicago. Train 1306 leaves Aurora at 6:47 a.m. and arrives at Chicago Union Station at 7:41 a.m. Train 1304 departs from Downers Grove at 8:40 a.m. and reaches Chicago at 9:40 a.m.

• Two new afternoon trains back to the suburbs. Train 1301 leaves Chicago at 2:30 p.m. and gets to Aurora at 3:27 p.m. Train 1303 departs from Chicago at 7 p.m. and reaches Aurora at 7:57 p.m.

• Three trains that were suspended during the pandemic are returning. Train 1204 leaves the Fairview Avenue Station at 5:18 a.m. and gets to Chicago at 6:15 a.m. Train 1284 departs from Aurora at 5:04 p.m. and arrives in Chicago at 6:16 p.m. Train 1259 leaves Chicago at 4:50 p.m. and gets to Aurora at 5:43 p.m.

• Two trains are canceled. The routes comprise: No. 1219 leaving at 8:05 a.m. from Chicago to Brookfield; and No. 1248 departing at 8:51 a.m. from Brookfield to Chicago.

About 19,000 passenger trips occur on Metra each weekday, or 30% of levels before COVID-19. The BNSF is one of Metra’s most popular routes.