By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — It’s one of the issues that appear to be uniting Republicans and Democrats alike: The Northstar Commuter Rail delays.

On Thursday, Metro Transit officials and BNSF Railway officials appeared before the House Transportation Committee, who demanded answers for the troubles.

This week, Metro Transit had to alert Northstar commuters to find another way to get to work after extreme delays.

BNSF, who owns the existing track and right-of-way that the Northstar uses, blamed the delays on the terrible weather and freezing temperatures, saying it’s causing the rail and equipment to malfunction.

“The primary problem has been an incredibly brutal winter that plays havoc with train operations,” BNSF’s Brian Sweeney said. “The cold weather affects the track, it affects equipment, it affects people and all of those factors contribute to the service problems that we’ve been having.”

BNSF says the workers cannot be outside for more than 20 minutes at time to fix problems.

Now, Metro Transit and the BNSF can’t agree on the exact on-time rate.

BNSF says 90 percent of the time the Northstar Rail was on time. However, Metro Transit says the on-time rate is much lower than that, at 75 percent.

Lawmakers say that if the problems aren’t dealt with soon, that BNSF and Metro Transit officials will have to appear before the committee again.


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