Photo by Igor Studenkov/Staff

Union Pacific Railroad work to replace rail ties along the Union Pacific West line is expected to result in minor delays and more train horn noise until at least early September.

The exact impact has not been announced, but Oak Park and River Forest riders would most likely see trains arriving a few minutes late, sometimes longer. Because Union Pacific Railroad will be replacing ties on all three tracks, the trains may not stop at the usual platforms, so riders are encouraged to listen for station announcements and check the Metra website for any boarding changes. Residents will also hear more train horns because federal regulations require trains to sound their horns when entering a work zone, even when going through the federally designated Quiet Zones.

Union Pacific Railroad owns the Union Pacific West line and operates the commuter rail service under contract with Metra. The railroad is responsible for regular maintenance, with Metra helping to foot the bill.

In a June 6 statement, Metra Executive Director/CEO Jim Derwinski said tie replacement “is essential and must be done at regular intervals to maintain track speeds and service levels, especially on a line like the UP-West that sees a significant amount of freight traffic in addition to commuter service.

“We understand that any delays can represent an inconvenience for our riders but focusing the work on off-peak hours should minimize these impacts,” he said.

Metra said the project covers 40 miles of track from Chicago’s West Side to Elburn.

“Union Pacific forces will replace approximately 90,000 ties and will be working on all three tracks used by the Metra UP-West Line,” Metra said. “To complete the work on schedule, UP forces will be working seven days a week with the majority of the work to take place in the overnight hours to early morning.”

Metra indicated that rush hour trains may need to slow down while traveling through work zones, and non-rush hour trains may be affected by that as well as sections of track being taken out of service. The fact that freight trains share the tracks with passenger trains may slow down work as well.

Riders can find the most up-to-date information on any schedule changes at metra.com/constructionnotices.

Train noise has been an ongoing concern for River Forest residents living near the tracks. In 2020, Metra agreed to add sound mitigation material on the fencing it previously installed along the embankment while adding a third train track. However, Metra warned that residents  “may hear more frequent train horns including during the evening and overnight hours.”

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Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...