On the study visit to the USA, PERES team met with the top management of Metra, a railway operator that performs passenger transport in a wider Chicago metropolitan area. With 242 stations on 11 lines, Metra is the fourth-largest commuter railway system in the United States, and the busiest railway system outside of the New York metropolitan area.
In an open conversation with the top management of the company, PERES team was presented with the scope of Metra’s operation, its resources and the condition of its fleet. Metra’s management expressed a high interest in innovative technologies and openly stated issues that they are facing that could be solved by new solutions – their need to upgrade infrastructure such as bridges, signalling and telecommunication and desire to implement smart railway crossings in the future. With 866 gate crossings on their railways, they are looking for new ways of upgrading the security and safety.
Other important issues discussed were the need for technologies that would extend the life of rolling stock in view of Illinois climate conditions, but also new passenger information systems relying on mobile apps, as well as looking into an automated ticketing system that can function efficiently with Illinois legislation on train fares and ways to reduce fair evasion.
With certain designs of equipment are almost 70 years old, Metra representatives stressed they are aware of the need to innovate and update, and expressed an openness for new technologies.
The visit was concluded by a trip to Metra’s maintenance facility to familiarize with the design of Metra’s rolling stock and observe the refurbishment process.