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: JamesT4, metraRI

  by UpperHarlemLine4ever
 
Noticed that CTA tracks still have the old, uncovered, unprotected el 3rd rail. Are there or have there been any plans to replace them with covered rapid transit 3rd rails?
  by lstone19
 
The third rail shoes on CTA cars are not compatible with a covered third rail. They hang straight down rather than being a paddle that sticks out to the side. So a conversion would require modification of every car and I would not be surprised if it would also require the third rail to be farther from the running rail to make a paddle shoe work.
There doesn't seem to be a problem with the current setup other than being different so a change strikes me as a solution in search of a problem.
  by UpperHarlemLine4ever
 
I am aware of the way the Chicago 3rd rail works. New York used to have the same on it's elevated lines and on lines that had both el and subway cars running. They were all changed over to the covered 3rd rail. I'm looking at it from a safety point of view. Chicago is the only operation that still has the old style, el, 3rd rail. Boston has uncovered 3rd rail but the cars run on a 3rd rail that could be easily covered over (the 3rd rail shoe is as you refer to it as a paddle shoe).
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
UpperHarlemLine4ever wrote:I am aware of the way the Chicago 3rd rail works. New York used to have the same on it's elevated lines and on lines that had both el and subway cars running. They were all changed over to the covered 3rd rail. I'm looking at it from a safety point of view. Chicago is the only operation that still has the old style, el, 3rd rail. Boston has uncovered 3rd rail but the cars run on a 3rd rail that could be easily covered over (the 3rd rail shoe is as you refer to it as a paddle shoe).
If you say you "you are aware"...then you undoubtedly should be aware that changing our system isn't going to happen for numerous reasons....expensive, time consuming, we have no "safety problems" with our workers, our unions...no benefit in terms of service, equipment apparatus, scheduling, operations car usage, etc. There just is NO REASON.

But I chuckle to myself every six or nine months when the subject comes up on an internet forum...usually form a New York railfan. I hope you are not planning to tresspass onto our rightofway.

CTA PCCs 6201-6510 had paddle shoes for pickup and the current 2200s have a paddle shoe also. But all subsequent orders use the gravity shoe, including our present sidelined order of Boombardier AC5000 series cars.... a design that traces back to England on the 1890s and is still used there I believe. But in addition to the gravity pick up shoe, our sleet cutting devices are also gravity powered, so its not just the pickups.

Thank you for your concern....I am sure you would get the same response from CTA management.

DH
  by UpperHarlemLine4ever
 
All I was doing is inquiring. Having been in law enforcement for 33 years including 2 1/2 years as a railroad police officer, I assure you I have no reason to want to trespass on railroad right of way, except to save someone who was in imminent danger of injury or death. Chicago and Boston are unique in North America for having an exposed 3rd rail. Most of Europe (except as you mention England) have covered 3rd rails also.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
Perhaps in considering the safety role that adding covers to the third rail would contribute, CTA management also had to consider a drawback.... the cover apparatus would subtract from the width of walkways up on the elevated structure, making them so narrow and constricted that that might become more of a safety issue than the energized third rails themselves.

DH
  by Tadman
 
It's pretty tough for one to get near the third rail. The CTA system is in three locations: elevated, subway, and ground. There's no reason other than emergency evacuation to be on the L structure or in the subway, and of the ground-based lines, most are in the median of the interstate. Of the few that aren't, they're still well-fenced and the grade crossings have those steel grates that are designed to prevent cattle from advancing onto the ROW.

Here's a few pics of CTA ground-level ROW. It's pretty apparent they don't want random people using their ROW as a walking path:
http://acm.jhu.edu/~sthurmovik/Railpics ... ssings.jpg
http://www.chicago-l.org/trains/gallery ... ta2598.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/capwell/56 ... hotostream
http://www.chicago-l.org/trains/gallery ... a2319b.jpg
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
The cattle guard-like angled slats between and alongside the rails are actually made of wood.

David Harrison
  by Tadman
 
Either way, I shiver just looking at them. I've twisted my ankle a few times playing tennis and it's a painful experience. I can only imagine what a mis-step feels like on those cattle-style guards. On the upside, I bet the CTA has never had bovine interferences...
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
In 2010, the Holiday Train passed a deer on the rightofway south of Isabella on the Purple line. Last year a train ran into a deer on the Blue line between Cumberland and Rosemont. There used to be the "famed" deer crossing signs on that line where the line crossed the Des Plaines (edit) River. Evidently deer following the river would take a side trip, jumping the fence and entering onto the CTA. Comparatively, the CTA was much quieter than the roadways on either side. The signs are long gone...removed or stolen???

David Harrison
Last edited by Chicagopcclcars on Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by lstone19
 
Nitty correction, David, so as not to confuse those who don't know the CTA as well as us locals, that's the Des Plaines River, not the Du Page River. The Du Page River is farther west and does not come as far north.
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
"DuPage River"...What was I thinking of?????

David Harrison
  by fauxcelt
 
Maybe he was testing to see if any of the local people would notice that he accidentally tried to switch the names of the DuPage and Des Plaines Rivers.

Laurence
  by fauxcelt
 
I haven't ridden the subways in New York City or Boston but I have ridden the subway in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and the BART System in San Francisco and vicinity. When I was growing up in Chicago, we had to use the "L" and the subway occasionally. I have noticed the differences in the third rail on all of these different systems and I have wondered about it. If the third rail setup doesn't interfere with operational efficiency or the ability of the system to provide service, then it seems to me that it shouldn't be an issue--except for the people who have to maintain and repair it.

Laurence
  by Chicagopcclcars
 
You would think so....and I agree with you, that those most closely involved would have the biggest concerns and voice it, but training and experience counters those concerns and there is no publicized complaints. The biggest internet complaints seem to be from railfans and that I have to laugh at. Of course, my first first-hand experience was when I was a motorman on the North-South, we were northbound, and it started to snow, big fat flakes. By Sheridan my front car was arcing and the lights went on and off. Past Wilson, the front car was dead...pushed by the remainder of the train. I knew what needed to be done....let down the front sleet scrapers. At Lawrence we were at least on the gravel embankment. I climbed down with my sleet scraper handle in hand. I inserted the end over the "L" shaped metal rod...turned my head away as I had been instructed. Shoved the handle 90 degrees and the scraper came down with a loud "clang"! To this day I'm amazed at how heavy that thing is. I don't think I pulled out of the station to let down the other side. At Howard yard, the switchmen were out and lowered the scrapers on every road train that passed through if it hadn't been done already. Ah the memories.

David Harrison