New rail cars ready for prime time -- and tough reviewers

The ten new prototype rail cars that have been whizzing past stations empty will accept paying Red Line customers next week, the CTA announced Thursday.

There's plenty to like about these test cars, including smoother acceleration and braking, LED screens and maps for passengers, seven security cameras in each car, a suspension systems that will lower the cars to the platform level, and more sensitive door sensors.

What folks may not like is the longitudinal seating along the windows with a very wide aisle in between. The total numbers of seats is about the same as currently -- 38 -- but with the wider aisles the train cars will fit about 120 passengers -- up to 30 more than can now squeeze in.

The Tribune has a detailed report. And Ben Myerson from Chicago Current has some nifty photos, below. I'll give my opinion as soon as I catch one of these new cars. Meanwhile, let us know if you ride one first.


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  • I always wondered why is was such an issue that the rail cars were not at the same height as the would eliminate the need for the ramps for handicapped access.

    Any reason why the station platforms aren't the same height as the train car door floors?


  • Eddie, very good point about narrow seats. I think you are right that 2-3 seats will go unused.

  • As a Red Line rider, I'd like to extend my sympathies to the Blue Line riders, who deservedly thought they'd see these cars first.

  • I hope they left a hidden light bulb on the map for the new green line between California and Ashland. Otherwise, could you imagine the cost to upgrade all the maps to insert a new station that was planned for/being built before the trains arrived? Probably a lot more than just misspelling Belmont.

  • Get ready to be squished like never before by overweight riders and seat hogs. I'm glad i don't take the Red Line...

  • I hate sitting sideways. Which is completely irrational on my part and I'll just suck it up or stand all the time.

  • Decision like these seem to be made by people who don't actually ride the train. I beef on here from time-to-time about the overcrowding on the Orange Line. There are no seats halfway through the run to the loop. It is hard to get a place to stand some days. Even in the winter bodies pressed so close together tend to sweat. Now they want to cram an extra 30 persons per car? Trains like this in London from Heathrow are never as crowded as the Orange Line is during the daily rush. Why don't we run more trains via remote and eliminate the engineers who aren't much good anyways?

  • Way to go CTA. The homeless are probably ecstatic, you've just provide sleeper cars. You also get a big shout out because, now I'll have a total stranger on either side of me and someone's privates in my face! Way to go guys.

  • I guess that I'm a little different because I actually prefer sitting in the aisle-facing seats. I do think that they need to at least come up with a way to make it less comfortable for one to lie down across a bunch of seats, though.

    One thing I noticed is that the destination signs do not show the line color. How is one to know whether one is boarding a Brown or Purple Line train to the loop? (I know about the lights on the front of the train, but I doubt that most people go by that nowadays.)

    I also wonder how easy it will be to update the route maps with those indicator lights. I'm sure it is going to be more complex than simply changing paper maps.

  • Does anyone know what run these cars will be on Monday morning?

  • I imagine they are going to use 4 car-sets in service, and keep one set as spare as there cannot be 10 car trains in service.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I expect they will run them as eight-car consist (maybe rotating the spare pair in). They wouldn't run them as "4 car-sets", especially not on the Red Line during rush hour - that wouldn't make sense. And they can't combine just 2 or 4 of these cars with other series cars to make up an eight-car train.

  • 5000 Class schedules:

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