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
 
In a discussion on another list, the topic of Orange line service came up, and an interesting question was posed: The service began in 1993 with no conductors, and one-person operators in full-width cabs. Since all Orange line stations from Midway to Roosevelt use island platforms, why couldn't the service operate left-handed, especially south/west of Roosevelt? And in fact, the Blue line could really benefit from a conversion to left-handed operation: It's semi-isolated from the rest of the system (no common platform transfers to other routes, which minimizes potential rider confusion), and except for three stations along the elevated portion (Damen, Western & California), all other stations on the line have island platforms. It would certainly make it easier on the operators, and prevent them from walking back and forth so much...
  by ryanbytes
 
If the cars were designed for left hand running they couldn't be used on other parts of the system as easily.
  by Tadman
 
I think he means left-main running, not left-side operator controls.
  by doepack
 
Exactly, because although the door controls are on both sides of the cab, the operator controls are only on the right. So running "left-handed" on lines with predominantly island platforms would mean less walking back and forth for the operators, since they wouldn't have to use the opposite side for the doors as often. Of course, CTA could add a second set of operator controls to the left side of the cab too, but changing the operating style would be a more practical (and much cheaper) solution...
  by dinwitty
 
are the signals set for left hand running, if not, you know why now...
  by byte
 
Making it work on the Orange line would be a challenge and probably not worth it in the end since all trains would need to cross over to the right-hand main somewhere immediately south of where it connects with the south side main. It could work on paper but in real life, MDW to Loop travel times would go up due to trains having to wait for other trains at the crossover.

The Blue line is probably the best place to make it physically work - and the CTA is signalled bidirectionally everyhere, so that's not an issue - but even if it's physically possible, one must consider that commuters are creatures of habit and the benefits of commuters must be weighed against benefits of the train operators. Running only the Blue line this way would also make it non-standard amongst all the other CTA lines, and that could be a nagging, petulant factor both within the agency and outside of it - how many times have all of us had to tell a friend who's boarding a UP Metra train to "go to the OTHER platform" because otherwise they'd miss their train?
  by doepack
 
byte wrote:The Blue line is probably the best place to make it physically work - and the CTA is signalled bidirectionally everyhere, so that's not an issue - but even if it's physically possible, one must consider that commuters are creatures of habit and the benefits of commuters must be weighed against benefits of the train operators. Running only the Blue line this way would also make it non-standard amongst all the other CTA lines, and that could be a nagging, petulant factor both within the agency and outside of it - how many times have all of us had to tell a friend who's boarding a UP Metra train to "go to the OTHER platform" because otherwise they'd miss their train?
I agree with you about the shared ROW factors north of Halsted that could make left main running on the Orange line counterproductive, but as for Blue: Yes, there would be some confusion at first, but eventually, regular riders will become used to it. In most cases, we aren't talking about being on the wrong platform altogether, it's simply a matter of boarding a train from a different part of an existing platform. And as an added bonus, it might even speed up service a little, cutting perhaps 2-3 minutes off a trip to O'hare from downtown...