As snowflakes descend on the Chicago area, it's time to reserve tickets for this year's Snowflake Special Excursion on the CTA, set for Sunday, March 24.
CTA geeks and curious riders alike will enjoy this private trip through out of the way places, sometimes travelling through yards and non revenue service tracks. It's a fund-raiser for the Illinois Railway Museum.
This year the charter has expanded to an eight-car train made up of each of the four types of DC propulsion high performance 'L' cars.
This includes the oldest cars still in service, the 2200 series Budd cars with the old "blinker doors." These cars were new in 1969 and opened the Dan Ryan and Kennedy routes. Today they're in limited numbers and operate only on the Blue Line and should all be retired by this summer.
The 2400 series cars were a 200-car order from the Boeing Co. and marked the transit entry of the aerospace company. When new in 1976 they were decaled with red, white and blue and marked the return of the sliding door to Chicago 'L' cars for wheelchair loading. These cars are next in the retirement schedule, but are currently found on the Green, Red, Orange, and Purple lines.
From 1981 through 1987, the CTA received a 600-car order from Budd/Transit America. Known as the 2600 series, these cars are the backbone fleet on the Red and Blue lines. The last type of car will be from the 3200 series that run on the Brown and Orange lines, the Morrison Knudsen company was the builder in 1992- 1994. This series was the first with a full width cab for one-person operation.
With scheduled retirements close at hand and due to the fact that the new 5000 series cars cannot run with this older equipment, this year's charter is a once in a lifetime event.
Last year, the event sold out, and patrons were turned away. You are strongly advised to buy your tickets in advance.
- From Forest Park on the Blue Line (Congress), the train will leave at about 8 a.m., and return there at about 7:15 pm. The fare is $55.00.
- From Midway on the Orange Line, the train is expected to leave at about 9:15 a,m., and return at about 6:00 p.m. The fare is $47.00.
Parking is available for $5 at Midway and Forest Park. Riders may also board at Racine on the Blue Line at approximately 10:00 a.m. To board train at this alternate station, hold up ticket in plain view of motorman and excursion crew.
A one-hour lunch stop will be made around the Loop. A restaurant list is provided to riders.
Buy tickets at the rail museum store website.