Major bridge fire destroys line in Illinois

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Superliner Diner

Aug 23, 2002
A bridge that carries METRA Electric commuter trains, as well as Canadian National (former Illinois Central) trains over an abandoned freight right-of-way has burned out. All service on METRA Electric south of Kensington/115th Street is out indefinitely. The bridge is also used by AMTRAK's ILLINI and CITY OF NEW ORLEANS.

METRA Electric service is operating (with delays) on the South Chicago and Blue Island branches. The Blue Island branch meets the mainline just north of the burned out bridge. METRA Electric will attempt to run hourly service on its mainline as far as Kensington/115th Street to augment Blue Island service, but trains are expected to be slow and crowded.

More details as they become available.
Metra Service Updates

Monday, June 23, 2003

Metra Electric District

Due to a major railroad bridge fire there will be no northbound or southbound service on the Metra Electric District main line between University Park and Kensington until further notice. Service on the South Chicago and Blue Island branches will operate, there may be some delays.The South Shore (NICTD) will honor Metra tickets. We will attempt to operate main line service between Kensington and Chicago, it may, however, be limited and subject to delay. At this time we can not estimate when normal service will resume. Communication to stations between Kensington and University Park via the voice of Metra and passenger assistance phones were also affected by this fire and therefore no announcements can be made at these stations.

3:10 a.m. UPDATE 6/23/03

The following trains will not operate:

All Main Line Trains to and from University Park

South Chicago northbound train #408 & southbound train #307.

Blue Island northbound train #508 and southbound train # 205.

Kensington Local northbound train #604.

Local service between 59th Street and Randolph/South Water will be available on the South Chicago trains. Our current goal is to possibly operate hourly service between 115th & Kensington to Randolph/South Water beginning at approximately 6:00 a.m. Be aware that trains will be very congested and will operate with delays. NICTD (South Shore) will honor Metra tickets from any one of their stations. We suggest customers consider using alternate transportation.

Please stay tuned to radio or call RTA Travel Information at 836-7000 for further information. We will update this information as the situation progresses.

Posted: 01:17 AM CDT
Later updates from METRA:

6:05 a.m. UPDATE 6/23/03

The CTA will honor Metra tickets on the following bus routes:

22 - 24 - 36 - 62 - 29 - 129 Express

Northbound Routes 3 - 4 - 14 - 145 - 147 - 60 - 151

Please stay tuned to radio or call RTA Travel Information at 836-7000 for further information. We will update this information as the situation progresses.

6:26 a.m. UPDATE 6/23/03

Beginning at approximately 7:00 a.m. there will be shuttle bus service available to take Metra Electric passengers, who have used the Rock Island trains, from the LaSalle Street Station to Randolph and Michigan.
From NICTD's website:

Effective: June 23, 2003

NICTD Honoring Metra Tickets on South Shore Trains

NICTD is honoring Metra tickets on South Shore trains between Kensington and Randolph St. until further notice. Early Monday morning a Metra Electric/IC railroad bridge near 137th St. in Riverdale was completely destroyed by fire. Metra is operating north of Kensington

The South Shore is unaffected by the bridge closure and is running normal train service to Chicago.

Posted: 6-23-03
Early afternoon update by MSNBC:

FBI Finds No Foul Play In Metra Trestle FireRiverdale police say there is no indication at this point that the fire was deliberately set. The cause is unknown and the FBI determined no foul play was involved in the weekend blaze.
Full story is here.
Link to local WLS-TV news (local ABC affiliate) story about the fire is here, including a video clip of the fire and its aftermath. According to this story, the CSX freight line below the bridge is not abandoned, and is still in service. The CN tracks that host AMTRAK are in fact out of commission.
Updated information in this article in the Chicago Tribune states that METRA hopes to reopen the affected commuter service by July 2nd, when they hope to have constructed a new bridge at the scene. You need to pre-register for free to view this story.