Under its 2020 budget, Metra, the commuter rail operator in Chicago area, proposed a USD 234.1 million investment for rolling stock renewal programme. USD 138.8 million will be allotted for the procurement of new rail cars and locomotives. Currently, Metra is in the request for proposals process for 400 new cars and it has asked manufacturers to propose new designs that maximize capacity. It is also buying new re-manufactured locomotives and has set funding to buy a prototype alternative fuel locomotive.
To rehabilitate its rolling stock fleet, Metra will invest USD 95.3 million, continuing its innovative and cost-efficient locomotive and car programme. It will also fund new programmes to overhaul 21 recently purchased Amtrak locomotives and upgrade 54 locomotives with more reliable AC traction motors.
The operator proposed a USD 827.4 million operating 2020 budget, with a proposed capital spending of USD 480.5 million, which includes major investments on its fleet, stations, bridges and yards.
Under the proposed budget, USD 331.1 million, or about two-thirds, will cover five major areas, including the fleet renewal.
USD 51.2 million will ensure stations and parking upgrade works, USD 23.2 million will be allotted for yard rehabilitation programme, while USD 22.6 million will be used to design and construct the replacement of several bridges.
Under the operating costs, Metra expects to save USD 7 million by not filling vacancies and about USD 5 million by reducing overtime and other miscellaneous expenses. This year, the operator identified nearly USD 6 million in efficiencies.
Those USD 18 million in reductions will help offset an expected USD 23 million increase in operating expenses next year, including about USD 7 million in new operating expenses associated with Positive Train Control and about USD 16 million in labor and various other operating expenses.
Metra expects its overall operating budget to increase by USD 5 million next year, from USD 822 million in 2019 to USD 827 million in 2020, a gain of 0.6 percent. Higher revenues from the regional transport sales tax, which funds about half of Metra’s operating budget, will cover the USD 5 million and no fare increase will be needed, Metra says.