Lipinski: Amtrak Responses to Questions About Union Station Meltdown Leave Passengers Without Compensation and Raise More Questions About Operations

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement today after Amtrak delivered their responses to his questions about the Feb. 28 signal outage at Union Station that caused service disruptions for nearly 100,000 Amtrak and Metra riders:

“After Amtrak’s February 28th system failure at Union Station that severely disrupted the morning and evening commute for nearly 100,000 Amtrak and Metra riders, I called Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson into my office to tell him that the system failure was completely unacceptable, ask him what caused it, and tell him that Amtrak must make changes so that it does not happen again.  Following that meeting I sent a list of questions to Mr. Anderson to follow up.  Having just received Amtrak’s responses, I am extremely disappointed.  It’s wrong that Amtrak has decided they will not compensate stranded commuters who were forced to spend money out of pocket to get home.  In our meeting, Mr. Anderson informed me that Amtrak would consider compensation because the railroad has a reimbursement policy for its own passengers. However, the letter I received yesterday on behalf of Mr. Anderson indicated that Amtrak was not contemplating reimbursement for Metra riders and provided no further explanation.  Compensating passengers for Amtrak’s preventable error would be a good way of showing leadership and accountability and would also serve as an incentive to avoid future failures.  In addition, the responses to my questions contained information about the server problems that seemed to conflict with what was originally said about the situation with the non-functioning backup system.  Finally, nothing in Amtrak’s letter gives me confidence that anything has changed that will prevent another meltdown.  Amtrak currently retains control of operations at Chicago Union Station, although Metra makes up more than 90 percent of the passenger traffic.  This raises the question of whether Amtrak should give Metra operational control of the station.  As Chair of the Rail, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am committed to continuing to pursue these issues.  The Feb. 28th delays at Union Station were a major hardship for countless Metra commuters who travel through the facility every day.  Amtrak needs to build back the public’s confidence in our rail system and give commuters the reliable service they demand and deserve. They have a lot of work to do.”