• Metra vs. Amtrak: Union Station Operating Agreement

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Jeff Smith
Negotiations have hit a snag: ChicagoBusiness.com
More than 140,000 passengers passing through the station every day might get caught in the middle, as Metra's lease on the rail terminal nears expiration amid a financial dispute.

Negotiations have broken off between Amtrak and Metra for a new lease governing the suburban rail agency's use of Chicago Union Station, casting a deep shadow on future operations of a rail terminal that serves more than 140,000 passengers a day.

In what amounts to a lawsuit, Amtrak, which owns Union Station, this week formally asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to impose new lease terms on Metra. The current contract between the two agencies expires next week, on July 29, and in its petition Amtrak said the parties “have reached an impasse” on a new deal.

Amtrak wants to hike by several million dollars the current rent of $9.66 million a year and wants a firm commitment by Metra to contribute capital to upgrade facilities, according to a source close to the matter. Metra wants to cut its rent to less than $7 million a year and seeks control or even ownership of the station before deciding on capital, that source adds.
  by eolesen
It's long past time to pass ownership of the station to the State or City. Normally I'd be opposed to a "taking" but transferring ownership from a Federal entity to a State wouldn't be harming private investment or ownership...
  by Tadman
I agree but what is the lesser of the two evils here? Amtrak that can't seem to figure out how to open up enough doors on the Hiawatha ("it loads just as fast through two door sets"... yeah right) or Metra who is flat broke, the state which is flat broke, the city which is flat broke and unable to care for basic needs...

Which group of geniuses do we pick?
  by eolesen
For Amtrak, CUS is just one of many headaches they mismanage, and has to fight for attention since they're out of sight, out of mind to Amtrak management.

Metra's management team is just across the street... and CUS is by far their biggest headache. Olgilvie is effectively run by UP, while0 LaSalle and Millenium have low enough volume that they don't need a lot of attention.
  by Jeff Smith
Trains.com Newswire: Amtrak asks STB to settle dispute with Metra over Chicago Union Station, seeks more than $17 million annually (updated)
Request marks third time Surface Transportation Board has been asked to intervene in long-running disagreement

WASHINGTON — Amtrak has filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board asking the agency to settle its ongoing dispute with Metra over terms and compensation for Chicago commuter railroad’s use of the Amtrak-owned Chicago Union Station, asking more than $17 million annually and including a list of 17 conditions the passenger railroad wants imposed as part of the new deal.

As recently as 2018, Metra paid $9.66 million to use the facility.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis says the commuter railroad's response is due in late June, and that settlement discussions are ongoing.

  by gokeefe

Tadman wrote:Which group of geniuses do we pick?
The ones who manage a fleet of large railroad terminals all across the country.

They aren't perfect but I'll take Amtrak any day of the week over a local commuter agency.

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  by Tadman
gokeefe wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 6:57 pm
Tadman wrote:Which group of geniuses do we pick?
The ones who manage a fleet of large railroad terminals all across the country.

They aren't perfect but I'll take Amtrak any day of the week over a local commuter agency.
I wouldn't be so quick to pick those guys. Metra does amazing things with a shoestring budget and has never had a rolling stock fiasco ever. They are very good and standardization. They are also very good at loading lots of passengers quickly, which Amtrak has yet to figure out two platforms over.
  by John_Perkowski
Take the annual operating costs of the train sheds.
Add in the operating costs for 40 stalls restroom space.
Divide by the number of arrivals, departures and switching movement.

Amtrak gets its share
METRA gets its share

Problem solved.
  by Tadman
And they could've had that all for free if the city, the railroads, and the state got together on a real estate development on the property. But nobody wants to touch the government express to the loony bin, despite the fact that there were umpteen proposals on the table and a developer ready to go.
  by doepack
Amtrak (landlord) to Metra (tenant): We are now authorized to raise your rent.

Metra: (sigh) OK, how much?

Following article published at Crain's is behind a paywall, the obligatory statements of "we promise to play nice for the sake of our passengers" from the parties involved was omitted...

Fair use:
Crain’s Chicago Business

Greg Hinz On Politics August 17, 2021 04:23 PM UPDATED 4:00 PM August 17, 2021

The legal war over control of Union Station appears to be over for the time being, with a federal agency declaring a settlement that will hike Metra’s rent by $1 million a year to use the building as its commuter hub.

The legal news came Tuesday when the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the railroad industry, issued a final ruling in a case in which Metra and station owner Amtrak have squabbled for three years over who will pay what and, ultimately, who will be in charge of the historic but overcrowded facility.

It appears the federal board, which is headed by former Metra chairman and former Chicago Ald. Martin Oberman, 43rd, came up with a compromise. The written decision—which you can read in full below—indicates Oberman recused himself from the case.

Metra now pays $9.6 million a year in rent to Amtrak under terms of a 1984 deal that now has expired, according to Amtrak.

Amtrak, which has been seeking money to expand its national network of trains—a system that also is based at Union Station—argued to STB that it was entitled to $14.8 million a year, according to the STB decision. Metra countered with $6.7 million, asserting that figure is its fair share of station operational costs.

STB ended up at $10.7 million and said that figure should be periodically adjusted for inflation.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari stopped short of proclaiming victory but, in a statement, suggested the passenger rail operator is content with the decision.

The remaining differences include disputes over which operator will get priority for its trains under certain circumstances.
  by Alex M
Here is one possible idea:
1. Allow the Chicago Union Station to continue the ownership of this station.
2. Amtrak and Metra will each own a third with the city owning the remaining third. Amtrak will continue handling dispatching.
3. A one dollar minimum maintenance surcharge be put on all tickets, commuter or intercity, the proceeds will be used only for maintaining and upgrading CUS. The money will go to CUS for that purpose .
4. All revenue from real estate will also go into station improvements.
5. Metra would be well advised to collect such a maintenance surcharge systemwide. This could help them going forward.
  by eolesen
Why should I as a rider going into LaSalle or Northwestern Terminal pay a dime towards CUS?...

AMTRAK won't give up ownership to Metra. The only play the state had was to condemn the property which we know won't hsppen.

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  by Gilbert B Norman
Thank you Mr. Alex M; for raising my $3 Senior fare by 33% to $4.
  by eolesen
Maybe the fare should be raised to cover costs not only for station maintenance, but all capital expenses like new equipment?...

Imagine that.

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