Metra officials unveiled new snow-fighting equipment and procedures to deal with the cold.

The commuter rail service installed switch heaters. It also unveiled a machine that clears snow and ice from the rails with blasts of air more than 500 mph.

Metra is also improving communication with email alerts.


Starting next year, passengers on Chicago area trains and buses will be able to use smartphones to pay.

Transit officials announced Wednesday that a free mobile app will be available in the first half of 2015 from Ventra, the company that produces fare cards. Passengers will be able to use it system wide — on C-T-A trains and buses, suburban Pace buses and the Metra commuter rail service.


The costs from Metra's settlement with its former CEO cost taxpayers $1.3 million.

Report Questions Hiring Influences At Metra

Apr 1, 2014

A special task force raises new questions about Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his influence on hiring at Metra. The panel, which issued its report Monday, was created after a scandal involving political patronage at the commuter rail agency.

Metra's former CEO answered questions Wednesday about political patronage and his controversial severance package.

Alex Clifford addressed the Regional Transportation Authority. It oversees Metra. Clifford says Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan made it known that he wanted Clifford to hire one person and give another Metra employee a raise. When asked if the powerful House speaker did anything illegal, Clifford said no.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

A host of public officials and hundreds of invited guests came to Rochelle Thursday to mark the grand opening of Japanese company Nippon Sharyo’s new rail car manufacturing facility there.