WASHINGTON — In a document filed Tuesday with the Surface Transportation Board, Amtrak and Metra have outlined areas where they’ve reached agreement in their long-running dispute over Metra’s use of Amtrak-owned Chicago Union Station — just ahead of a deadline to file briefs on remaining issues, including rent, to be addressed by the board.
The joint filing by the two sides addresses matters such as Metra’s right to change schedules and operate special or test trains; Amtrak’s right to review the interoperability of new or overhauled Metra equipment to be used at Union Station; and notification procedures by Amtrak when an event causes disruption or annulment of Metra service. It also stipulates that Amtrak will continue to dispatch Metra trains in and out of Union Station, but there will be monthly meetings to review on-time and dispatching performance, as well as service disruptions. The document lays out a complex formula for future recalculations of Metra’s rent — based on costs including maintenance of way, dispatching, station operations, and policing — but the initial rent figure is among issues still to be decided.
The two sides had informed the STB in December that 16 issues remained to be resolved [see “Metra, Amtrak inform STB of remaining issues …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 16, 2020] after mediation settled some of the issues in a dispute that dates to 2018. Tuesday’s filing comes ahead of a Jan. 22 deadline for the two sides to file briefs addressing the remaining issues. The STB agreed to hear the dispute after a May 2020 filing by Amtrak requesting the board’s intervention [see “Amtrak asks STB to settle dispute with Metra …,” News Wire, May 28, 2020]. At that time, Amtrak was requesting more than $17 million in annual rent; as recently as 2018, Metra had paid $9.66 million annually.