When an Orange Line train turns Brown, and vice-versa

In the last few weeks I've gotten a few emails from folks who have been on an Orange Line train that suddenly became a Brown Line train during rush hour, and vice-versa. The common question being, what's up with that?

The good news is, you are not hallucinating. Here's what the CTA has to say about it:

The capacity at the Midway terminal, which serves the Orange Line, is larger than that of the Kimball terminal, which serves the Brown Line. Under the current schedule, Orange Line rush hour summer service doesn't require as many eight-car trains as the Brown Line. As a result since the schedule went into effect on Aug. 3, one Orange Line train is used on the Brown Line during the morning and evening rush. When it completes its run on the Brown Line it returns to Midway as an Orange Line train.

Operators are supposed to announce the train is operating on the Brown Line when it is between Kimball and the Loop.

Filed under: CTA in the news

Tags: Brown Line, CTA, Orange Line

Comments

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  • Wow, thanks for answering this question, as I was baffled by this. The better question however, is why don't ALL orange line trains do this? It would allow all customers on the orange line to access all of the brown line stops without transferring. Existing brown line runs would still terminate at the Loop, as the demand does not yet exist for them to go to Midway.

  • In reply to aczysz:

    If you look at Chicago-l.org, that was the last stage of the "highly conceptual" Circle Line project, including having the other Brown Line trains go down the Douglas branch.

    Of course, it depends on how you define "existing." As you propose (i.e. existing Orange go to Ravenswood, but existing Ravenswood still Loop), it would disrupt frequency on the Orange (at least during the time when the first couple of Orange trains were on the north side, with nothing returning), and, of course, deprive them of stops on Wabash and Lake, but, too, so would have Frank's highly conceptual plan in the latter case. (The problem with that plan is that at the moment, while boardings are fairly equivalent between the Brown compared to Orange plus Pink, they are so low on the Pink that the Pink would probably run once every 30 minutes if the highly conceptual plan were implemented now.)

  • In reply to aczysz:

    I'm surprised it's only one train, given how often I seem to end up on it. They do seem to have tweaked it. The first couple times I was on the inbound, it went the Orange way around the half-Loop, creating a big mess when most of the train emptied out at the Mart. Lately they've gone with the usual Brown routing for the half-Loop, which seems to work much better.

  • In reply to aczysz:

    Yeah I have to agree with Tambreet there's NO WAY it's only one train, if that were the case I've gotten on it so much I should be playing the lotto.

  • In reply to aczysz:

    Yeah I have to agree with Tambreet there's NO WAY it's only one train, if that were the case I've gotten on it so much I should be playing the lotto.

  • In reply to aczysz:

    Back when there was work being done on Lake and they ran all combined Brown-Orange trains, apparently there was studies done to combining the Orange and Brown line trains, and they found:

    1. The difference in traffic between the lines was significant (Brown is eight cars for all of rush hour, this story is about how orange line trains can spare trains).

    2. Clarke/Lake. Missing that stop would affect service more then a Brown-Orange through-route would help people.

  • In reply to aczysz:

    One thing that I have never really understood is why the Orange Line trains go clockwise on the loop? It would seem to make more sense for them to go up Wabash first rather than turning down Van Buren. Right now, only the Brown Line uses the outside platforms along Wells. It seems that it would be more balanced to go the other way, but there may be some condition that I am not aware of since I don't take the Orange very often.

  • In reply to eBob:

    It is basically the relative frequency of the trains. Brown is at least twice that of any other Loop line. Check out the schedules.

  • In reply to eBob:

    I've seen the SB train switch from Brown to Orange after 6 PM at the Chicago Brown Line station--they make an announcement there and change the signs so people know what's going on.

  • In reply to eBob:

    Also keep in mind, the pink line did not exist until recently.

  • In reply to eBob:

    I'm not supposed to tell this cause I'm a current CTA operator . But the reason for the switch is to balance train for the rush hour commute between the loop and kimball. The population on the brown line has increased so dramasticly that a extra or " carry over" is used to help with the congestion. Orange line run 703 departs midway to the loop on a unproceeded schedule. Once @ library/ state the train converts to brown line run 403 to kimball. Now there is to 403's on the system for this one reason. 1) Automactic drivers units are not programed to announciate MULTIPLE LINE stops, so once a orange line train reaches the loop, the system logs the driver in as a brown line operator so stops from library to kimball can be anoouciated . This same thing works visa versa and so ther u have it its just to make sure you guys don't have board highly overpacked trains :)

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