Local News

Metra revving up UP Northwest Line with more trains

People wait for a train Thursday, Feb, 3, 2022, at the Metra station in downtown Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake and Cary are in the considering purchases their downtown stations after Union Pacific decided to sell this station and other commuter stations.

Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line riders will see a nearly 50% boost in trains later this month as the commuter railroad starts restoring service curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective April 25, Metra will add 21 weekday trains to the UP Northwest between Chicago and Harvard, bringing the total up to 66, officials announced Thursday.

Metra has already expanded service on the popular BNSF Line as passengers slowly return from working at home or opt for public transit amid a gas price spike.

“We have said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that Metra is committed to adjusting its schedules to meet growing ridership and our riders’ changing needs,” Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement.

Changes also include dividing the morning and afternoon rush hours into three-zone patterns intended to prevent crowding and extend express service to stations that are farthest from downtown.

Times have been tweaked on a number of routes, such as allowing most midday trains to arrive at Ogilvie Transportation Center on the 10s. The new schedule is available at metra.com/alternate-schedules.

Other revisions mean the first morning train will reach Ogilvie at 5:32 a.m. and the first train out of Chicago departs at 5:05 a.m. There will be six trains to the suburbs leaving before 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, Union Pacific North riders face a good-news/bad-news scenario.

Two trains between Chicago and Kenosha will be added -- one departing from Wisconsin at 6:38 a.m., and another leaving Ogilvie at 4:32 p.m.

But UP North Line construction projects, such as the new Peterson Ridge station, will mean canceling four midday trains.

Those include routes scheduled to leave Winnetka at 10:09 a.m. and 2:09 p.m., and two trains with departure times from Ogilvie at 9:02 a.m. and 1:02 p.m.