Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by doepack
CTA: New rail cars mean smoother 'L' rides
By Virginia Groark
Tribune staff reporter

May 10, 2006, 8:39 PM CDT

As soon as 2009, elevated train riders could experience a quieter, smoother
ride on new rail cars because of a $577 million contract approved Wednesday
by the Chicago Transit Authority board.

The train cars, which will be tested for up to a year, will have
aisle-facing seating and increased aisle room, making it easier for people
to lug baggage on the train and spread out inside the car.

While the number of seats—40—won't change, the new cars will have more
amenities: two wheelchair positions, seven security cameras, electronic maps
and destination signs, officials said.

Officials will begin to test 10 rail cars on the mainline system early in
2009. After running the cars on a rigorous schedule to test their
performance in Chicago's frigid, snowy winter and its hot, humid summer, the
agency should start receiving additional cars in late 2009, officials said.

Initially the cars will be tested on the Blue and Pink Lines, but eventually
they will be used throughout the system. More than 50 have been earmarked
for the Brown Line, which is undergoing a $530 million renovation.

The contract with Bombardier Transit Corp., which could grow to nearly $1
billion, marks the largest purchase in the history of the agency, CTA
President Frank Kruesi said. The initial order for 406 cars will be funded
by a combination of federal dollars, an Illinois Department of
Transportation grant and bonds.

Under the agreement, if funding becomes available, the CTA could order up to
300 additional cars.

The contract award marks the CTA's first rail car purchase since the 1990s,
when train cars were bought for the opening of the Orange Line and to
replace older cars on the Brown and Yellow Lines. Wednesday's vote also
wraps up a nearly 18-month-long process in which bidders spent hundreds of
thousands of dollars, including some that hired public relations firms,
trying to get the contract, officials said.

One of the most notable changes will be the aisle-facing seat configuration,
which has not been seen on the CTA since the 1960s. The configuration will
make the aisles 6 inches wider at their narrowest point, allowing riders
more space to board and making it easier for riders, especially those
carrying something, to board the train, Kruesi said.

Though some fret about the possibility of motion sickness because they won't
be facing forward, Kruesi noted the ride will be much smoother because the
cars will run on a new alternating current propulsion system.

The propulsion system has smoother acceleration and braking, which will
reduce the jerky movements that many riders now experience and make it
quieter, said Jack Hruby, vice president of rail operations.

"With the smoother acceleration and braking, we should see a tremendous
reduction in noise levels," Hruby said.

The order will enable the CTA eventually to replace some of its aging cars,
some more than 35 years old, officials said.

Though the CTA has commitments for the money to buy the 406 cars, CTA
Chairwoman Carole Brown noted that $50 million would come from bonds that
have not yet been issued. Without new additional operating dollars, Brown is
concerned that the agency's ability to borrow money could be affected by
recently passed legislation requiring the CTA to shore up its pension fund.
The CTA would be required to make annual payments of more than $200 million
starting in 2009.

"Bond buyers, capital markets, rating agencies are going to ask us how we
hope to pay back the debt service if we have this $270 million obligation to
fund the retirement plan," Brown said.

CTA officials hope the General Assembly will address the need for more
transit funding in the coming year.

  by F40CFan
Great, bowling alley seating. What are they thinking?

  by orangeline
Let's see...

Marshall Field's is now Macy's
the Donald is building his skyscraper
Conan O'Brien is in town
Suway seating

I guess we must be in New York!

  by Kablam76
I like the 2200 seating. All facing front, eye contact is to a minimum, seemingly less chances of altercations.

It will be interesting to see how the cars get distributed. The minimum order will replace the 2200s no doubt, but perhaps some units will get shuffled away from their current line assignments?

The 700+ order would be crazy. All 2200s, 2400, and a lot of 2600s gone.

I'm going to miss the 2200s. Hopefully one will find its way up to IRM so I can go stare at it and recall its 1970s glory.

  by F40CFan
I hate sitting sideways or backwards. Makes me sick. I guess I'll just have to stand if I get stuck in one of the new cars.

  by octr202
That's unfortunate. One thing I really liked about CTA cars was the varied seating layout. Here on the MBTA we have nothing but the "NYC Style," save for one order of LRVs (even the newer LRV's have it). Which is fine for a short hop, but if you've got a 30-40-50 minute ride (which the L sure has), man, are you gonna stare at the person across from you the whole way? Ugh...

And I'm not sure that it really does that much for moving around the car. It makes it easier when the car isn't filled to capacity, but then, its just not that hard when the car isn't filled to capacity. Shoehorn people in and its tough no matter how the seats face...

  by byte
Here's a .pdf file the CTA's put out, highlighting the improvements on the new cars. It has pictures (done over in Photoshop, of course) of the new features added to 3200-series cars.

http://www.yourcta.com/news/motion/boar ... series.pdf

  by doepack
Not bad. The new maps equipped with station indicator lights that illuminate in sychronization with the audio station announcements is a nice touch, especially for tourists. But if I may, the use of the "glow-in-the-dark" phrase in the presentation is a bit unprofessional; "flourescent" would've been more appropriate...

  by byte
doepack wrote:But if I may, the use of the "glow-in-the-dark" phrase in the presentation is a bit unprofessional; "flourescent" would've been more appropriate...
You do have a point. It looks like whoever made that file is more proficient in railcar design than multimedia presentations. :wink:

  by StevieC48
That will be the first subway car to raise or lower itself "kneel"to meet the platfrom for chalenged passengers. Heard of kneeling on a bus but never a subway car. This should be intresting.

  by MikeF
doepack wrote:But if I may, the use of the "glow-in-the-dark" phrase in the presentation is a bit unprofessional; "flourescent" would've been more appropriate...
If we're going to nitpick, the correct word would actually be "luminescent." :-)

  by octr202
StevieC48 wrote:That will be the first subway car to raise or lower itself "kneel"to meet the platfrom for chalenged passengers. Heard of kneeling on a bus but never a subway car. This should be intresting.
Yeah, that illustration makes it look like its a signifigant distance that the car has to lower -- but from what I remember riding the El and from photos, it sure looks like the existing fleet doesn't have a problem with floors not matching up to platform height...

  by F40CFan
Geez, they're not using color coded destination signs. How will anyone know where they are going?

The cars have some nice features, but I still think they're idiots for changing the seating. In the picture, the standee is right on top of the person sitting. Any sway and he'll be waving his crotch in the sitting persons face.

  by orangeline
I find the notion of real "straphangers" to be intriguing.

  by F40CFan
Good one!!!