CTA rail slow zones increase dramatically in 2011

Those pesky slow zone on CTA rail lines just won't go away.

In fact, this year slow zones have grown almost 61% from February of 2010 - 108,405 feet of track are covered by slow zone as shown on the Feb.16 map, vs. 67,398 feet on the Feb. 24, 2010 slow zone map.

About 2,700 feet of slow zones were added in the State Street subway last June when an electrical arc ignited curve greases used to reduce the screeching noise of wheels on the metal track. The fire burned some of the track that was previously repaired in 2008.

A bystander captured this dramatic video showing smoke billowing out of the tunnel during the June fire.

The CTA could not say when work on that slow zone between Chicago and North/Clybourn would be completed.

There was some good news on slow zones in January, when the CTA announced signal repairs were completed on the Orange Line, and that long slow zone was lifted.


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  • The purple line northbound between Belmont and Howard has gotten ridiculously slow. I realize it's probably low on the priority list, but it's gotten to the point where I am going to start taking Metra's UP-North line to get to Evanston instead, despite the fact that it is further out of my way and would require a greater financial commitment on my part. It's just so frustrating to be creeping along at 5-10mph, as the red line blows by on the inner track.

    And then there are mornings like today, where somehow the purple line trains become bunched in the loop, which makes for 20-25 minute gaps between the trains. I'm just too fed up with the purple line - I'm done with it.

    /end rant.

  • Nirvana, you are correct. The map shows slow zones on Track 4 northbound from Lawrence to around Morse. Good question on how CTA prioritizes work. Something to ask....

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Maybe I'm just trying to sound less harsh than my original post with this, but I will say that the reverse commute in the evenings usually goes great on the Purple line. As you can see in the map, the southbound purple line between Howard and Belmont (I guess that's track one?) is pretty clear of slow zones. And for those that are transferring to the brown line at Belmont, there are usually enough trains coming from the loop to make the transfer very quick.

    I'd almost prefer to do the Metra in the morning to Evanston and then the CTA home in the evening, but that's not a good financial option because I'd really only want to do the monthly pass for one of the two. Sigh.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    It is a good thing that CTA has concern for passengers' safety.

    I've noted that it is a bad thing that even supposedly recently repaired stretches have slow zones again, showing that the CTA or its contractors do a Homer Simpson job. Brown between Irving Park and Addison, and the Pinks and Dan Ryan mentioned last month, are not good signs.

    Of course, I doubt that a train could ever go over 15 mph at the Division curve or some of the curves on the Brown/Purple south of Armitage.

    As far as the "Purple Line" I'm sure that CTA is going to leave it as is until it gets the whole "Vision" thing done, and then tell the cranky people from Evanston who don't realize how good they would have it if they just listened to the Mayor of Chicago, that, "yes," we are going to cut your service.

    As for the UPN, there is still the threat of the 8 year project that Metra says they have to rethink after teeing off the same Evanstonians. Maybe the 147 bus would work, except on snow or high wind days.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I take the Brown line and I've never even noticed that slow zone.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    The red line between Sox-35th and Cermak-Chinatown is awful. The slow zone map shows 15mph and 25mph zones, but the trains always go 5-10mph. That segment of track can add 5 minutes to travel time...so irritating. The once reliable red line is becoming more and more inconvenient.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I was going to pay attention this morning on that slow zone on the Brown Line, but I forgot. We must not be absolutely crawling there or I think I'd notice.

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