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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra receives $319 million in FFGAs for three projects


If one Full Funding Grant Agreement is good, and two would be twice as nice, what would three FFGAs in one day be? Ask Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (Metra): U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta visited Chicago’s Union Station Nov. 5 to sign three FFGAs totaling $319.1 million for extensions and improvements to the agency’s SouthWest, North Central and Union Pacific West lines.

Metra would receive $135.2 million for enhancements to North Central Service’s 55-mile Chicago-to-Antioch line. Work to be done includes adding more second main track and improving signals. Metra also would add 12 trains to the 10-train-per-day service, and build stations at Franklin Park, Schiller Park, Rosemont and Grayslake, as well as a transfer between North Central Service and the UP-Northwest route.

The agency also would receive $103.02 million for its SouthWest Service: The 28.9-mile route from Chicago to Orland Park would be extended 11 miles to Manhattan. Three miles of second main track would be added to the existing route; an additional 12 miles of freight line would be upgraded, enabling Metra to expand weekday service from 16 trains to 30 trains. Beyond 179th Street in Orland Park, Metra also plans to add two stations and a yard.

Finally, UP-West’s 35.5-mile Chicago-to-Geneva route would be extended nine miles to Elburn. Work would include building a third main track and improving signals along one of the country’s busiest freight corridors, for which Metra has been awarded an $80.76 million FFGA. Two stations and a yard also would be added, eliminating a costly and time-consuming reverse move against early-morning traffic. The expansion effort also would require additional cars, locomotives, platforms, parking and support facilities.

Mineta presented Metra checks for the first payments: $28.8 million for North Central, $12.8 million for SouthWest Service and $11 million for UP-West.