CTA prepares for overhaul of cars used on Brown, Orange lines

The CTA has started the process to buy parts for the planned 2015 overhaul of the 3200 series rail cars, currently in use on the Brown and Orange lines.

A car from the 3200 series on the Brown Line. Photo by Mike Farrell from chicago-l.org.

A car from the 3200 series on the Brown Line. Photo by Mike Farrell from chicago-l.org.

Last week the CTA board OKed two contracts in anticipation of the mid-life overhaul for the 20-year-old rail cars, according to a news release:

Following separate competitive bid processes, the Board approved a contract valued at $8.2 million to Ellcon National Inc. for the purchase of new auxiliary power systems that will be more efficient and reliable for the remaining years of service of the 3200-series rail cars.

A second contract valued at $4.1 million was awarded to Axion Technologies for the purchase of color light-emitting diode (LED) signs, which will replace the roller-curtain signs on the sides and ends of each rail car that are used to display the color of a rail line and its respective destination. The LED destination displays are brighter, provider larger text and are easier for customers to read.

The cars in the 3200 series certainly are showing their age, with faded seat covers among other flaws. However, the seating configuration with mixtures of forward-, rear- and aisle-facing single seats and seat pairs is popular with riders. The CTA announced earlier in August that its newest 7000 series cars will feature similar styles seating as the 3200s.

Workers at the CTA’s Skokie Heavy Maintenance Facility will do the overhaul project over the course of two-years. The total estimated cost of the overhaul is $166 million.



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  • The ambiguity here is that the prebid minutes for the 7000s say that options 5 and 6 are to replace the 3200s. Option 5 for 156 cars is 1790 days or 5 years after the contract effective date. Option 6 for 100 cars is 2460 days (approximately 6.7 years). If this rehab is to be in 2015-2016, either CTA isn't serious about the options unless they think delivery will be delayed for about 11 years from the 7000s contract date (assuming late 2014 or 2015), or the nonexistent board is letting management go down the slippery slope of now awarding contracts for $12.3 million on what they say is a $166 million job. So maybe Brian Steele can earn his money and explain this discrepancy.

  • While they're at it, install a conductor's position in the odd numbered car, right where they used to be on the older equipment.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Why bother?
    If there's a conductor, any unused motorman's cab could be used.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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