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CTA OKs Purchase of New Bombardier "L" Cars

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0605110172may11,1,3952576.story?coll=chi-news-hed

$577 million pact OKd for 406 `L' cars

By Virginia Groark

Tribune staff reporter
Published May 11, 2006

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.

Graphic:
 

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It's rather sad compared to other cities in Europe and Asia, but it is an improvement. I'm guessing they will be very similar to the new cars that are found in NYC. The complete order of $1 billion would also include special airport express cars for the premium trip from O'Hare and Midway to downtown Chicago.
 

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So will the new cars be like the old, just with new engines and a new seating?????

I mean, sorry to say that, but compared to most european cities e.g. Berlin, Munich, Kopenhagen oder Madrid, the EL-System is a driving junkyard---really sorry to say so, but thats competition!!

Chicagoland would have deserved much more comfortable, modern, and good looking trains, I mean we are in the year 2006!!!

Thats the lates subway train for my hometown munich:



Chicago is such a rich, beatyfull city, it would have deserved decent subway trains.....
 

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pflo777 said:
So will the new cars be like the old, just with new engines and a new seating?????

I mean, sorry to say that, but compared to most european cities e.g. Berlin, Munich, Kopenhagen oder Madrid, the EL-System is a driving junkyard---really sorry to say so, but thats competition!!

Chicagoland would have deserved much more comfortable, modern, and good looking trains, I mean we are in the year 2006!!!

Thats the lates subway train for my hometown munich:



Chicago is such a rich, beatyfull city, it would have deserved decent subway trains.....
Different systems (remember it's mostly elevated with some subway), different kinds of cars I guess. I really don't know if those kinds of cars that you posted would be allowed by US law/regulation.

But these cars will look more or less like the newer NYC models with some minor differences I'm sure. And some people will like this nostalgic metal feel, and some (like myself) wish for something a bit more modern.


Frungy said:
Bombardier, huh. Hope the CTA system doesn't turn into an Acela or Las Vegas.
Well NYC and Toronto (as well as some other NA cities) use Bombardier, so I would think they would have the same problems too.
 

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Bombardier makes good stuff when the order is realistically-decent ... look at NYC and Vancouver ... two different systems, but both types of cars have excellent realiability.
 

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pflo777 said:
So will the new cars be like the old, just with new engines and a new seating?????

I mean, sorry to say that, but compared to most european cities e.g. Berlin, Munich, Kopenhagen oder Madrid, the EL-System is a driving junkyard---really sorry to say so, but thats competition!!

Chicagoland would have deserved much more comfortable, modern, and good looking trains, I mean we are in the year 2006!!!

Thats the lates subway train for my hometown munich:



Chicago is such a rich, beatyfull city, it would have deserved decent subway trains.....

How do you know what they will look like? The TTC is about to order some new cars from Bombardier and they are expected to look like this...


BTW the Bombardier cars have been problem free in Toronto and I assume New York also so you have nothing to worry about.
 

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Frungy said:
Bombardier, huh. Hope the CTA system doesn't turn into an Acela or Las Vegas.
Acela is a very different system than your normal metro trains, so it is unlucky they will suffer from similar problems.
 

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GO_Rider said:
Acela is a very different system than your normal metro trains, so it is unlucky they will suffer from similar problems.
Yes, exactly.

Metro trains arent coming into contact with freights.

For example, Ottawa in Canada was only allowed to operate their O-Train on the rail-line by getting special permission and building movable platform extenders.

In the case of Acela, US railway transport safety regulation issues led to increased weight which led to maintenance issues.

Acela would likely have been fine if the trains had been left as originally designed.

Cheers, m
 

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the reason why i think that they will look the same ist that the floorplan including the drivers position and the doors connecting the cars with each other are completely at the same position.

The Munich train for example is a all in on train, where you have direct connection between the firts and the last car, so you can walk through, without noticing the gap---
The Head of the train therefore can be designed completely indepedent.
 

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DrJoe said:
BTW the Bombardier cars have been problem free in Toronto
Each one of those cars is problematic --- their friggin brakes squealed and squealed, has this harmful noise been corrected there yet? Plus the abrupt way those cars came to a rest is awfully outdated . . . .

Cheers,
Chris
 

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Derailment, fire on Chicago Subway at rush hour

*Injury total is now at 152 people

Fire on CTA Blue Line train forces evacuations

By Josh Noel and Virginia Groark
Tribune staff reporters
Published July 11, 2006, 8:17 PM CDT


An O'Hare-bound Blue Line train that had just exited the Loop derailed shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday and sparked a fire, prompting the evacuation of scores of people who had to navigate through the smoke-filled subway, officials said.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said the last car of an eight-car northbound train derailed around 5:09 p.m. shortly after leaving the Clark/Lake station. Kruesi said he believes that elements under the train caught on fire.

Police Supt. Phil Cline said there was no evidence that suspicious activity was involved in the incident. "There is no indication of foul play at this time," he said.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said a total of 120 people were taken to area hospitals, with only two people listed in serious condition. Langford described those two as elderly people.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the scene, he said.

According to Kruesi, the train, which originated in Forest Park, had just departed the Clark/Lake station when the motorman received a signal in his cab indicating there was a problem. He stopped the train and noticed there was smoke.

"He immediately called for the removal of power and evacuated the train," Kruesi said, noting the motorman pulled to the closest emergency exit.

As of 6:39 p.m., the Blue Line was shut down in both directions between its Damen and Racine stations. Since there were a number of trains in the subway at the time of the accident, motormen berthed those trains at the nearest station and evacuated them.

"The Blue Line is shut down but ultimately there were no trains that were trapped in that area," Kruesi said.

The incident damaged the system's third rail and signals but Kruesi did not know the extent of it.

Emergency officials twice swept the tunnel and a third sweep was underway to ensure that no one was trapped in the tunnel or on the train.

Passengers on the train said there was a sharp jolt before the train screeched to a halt.

"We were on the last car and all of a sudden it started screeching and sparking," said Maryann Miceli, who was riding the train to her Northwest Side home.

"It was all sparking and flames," she added. "That's when everyone started to panic."

Metra was honoring CTA fare media, according to Kruesi. In addition, CTA put a bus shuttle in place between the Damen and Racine stations. The No. 56 Milwaukee bus is another option for customers.

Pace spokeswoman Judi Kulm said that the suburban bus agency had extra buses positioned at CTA stations to help transport customers.

The buses are at 54th, River Road, Cumberland and Forest Park. Any paratransit riders who are stuck downtown and need transportation should call 1-800-606-1282, listen for the prompt for an emergency and press that, Kulm said.

Anyone who wants to pick up belongings left behind during the evacuation can come to the Central Police district starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to Officer Kristina Schuler.
 
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