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Metra approves $71M contract to replace aging locomotives

Sun-Times file photo

CHICAGO — Metra has approved a nearly $71 million contract to buy 15 locomotives and begin replacing the commuter rail agency’s aging fleet.

The contract approved Wednesday includes the option to buy up to 27 additional locomotives from Progress Rail Locomotives of La Grange if funding is available.

Metra CEO Jim Derwinski says the goal is to increase reliability and “improve the state of good repair of our system.” They also are expected to reduce operating costs, since the older locomotives are increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.

The agency has 147 locomotives, about 70 percent of which are rated in poor or marginal condition. Metra says that will drop to about 40 percent with this year’s purchase of 24 used locomotives from Amtrak and to about 14 percent with Wednesday’s purchase.