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Metra To Test Air In Downtown Stations

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) -- Metra officials say they are satisfied that the air aboard its trains is not toxic, and now, the agency wants to test the air in three of its downtown terminals.

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Bob Roberts reports, Metra plans to press its gadgets and gauges into service at Ogilvie Transportation Center, the LaSalle Street station, and the Electric District Millennium Terminal at Randolph Street.

Metra chief mechanical officer Rich Soukup is overseeing the task force of consultants, agency personnel, and experts from the U.S. and Illinois environmental protection agencies.

"We're going to start testing in the stations just to verify there are no other issues in stations themselves," Soukup said.

Even Metra chairman Carole Doris says the crews are likely to find something.

"It's noisy, and it's sooty," she said.

Testing was conducted last summer at Union Station, which is owned by Amtrak.

Last week, Metra officials announced that preliminary results by independent consultants show that Metra rail cars do not release dangerous levels of harmful soot.

The finding came after testing last year by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Respiratory Health Association found that trains pulling out of Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center can have air trapped inside passenger cars that contains levels of diesel soot up to 72 times higher than on neighboring streets.

The testing at the downtown train stations is the second of three phases. In the third phase, engineer locomotive cabs, the cabs of cab cars at the opposite ends of trains and the ambient air in Metra's repair shops will be tested.

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