Red Line south branch track replacement quietly nears completion

With all the noise these day coming from the Ventra card rollout mess, practically gone unnoticed by many riders is the near completion of the Red Line South track rebuilding project.

The CTA is scheduled to complete the project on time this weekend and reopen track and stations on the south Red Line Dan Ryan branch on Sunday at 4 a.m. See the scope of work.

Final testing is being completed this week. Here's the word on the project from the CTA Facebook page:

As we head into the very last few days on the Red Line South Reconstruction, we continue our extensive testing regimen. On October 12, an eight-car test train of 5000-series cars was used in various testing throughout the whole weekend, in fact.

Some of the work, much of which was focused on signals, switches and verifying clearances, included the test train traveling at full speed for a round trip—maximum speed is at 55 mph across most of the line!

In these photos, people from CTA and a number of contractors involved in the project came out both as part of the test work and to inspect performance as the project nears completion.

After a five month closure to rebuild the tracks, get trains up to full speed and provide a better, faster, smoother ride for South Side Red Line riders, normal service from Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan will resume on Sunday morning at 4 am.

The CTA at least has proven it can complete these track projects on time and on budget.



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  • The only question is, why use wood ties when concrete is guaranteed to last longer?
    Oh wait, I can answer that one. Bribes & kickbacks!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    They supposedly answered that one, but the real question is why they didn't use composite plastic ones.

  • In reply to jack:

    Plastic would have been acceptable.
    But the fact that the Union Pacific has installed concrete ties from Lake St. north to Erie St. is proof that those would be best. The UP did what's in its long term interest in both reduced maintenance & reduced cost over the lifetime of the ties. They are standing up to 200+ton locomotives & 60 ton coaches without failing.

    But at least the CTA came to its senses on the ballast & abandoned limestone, which dissolves when sitting in badly drained roadbeds & used granite, just like the Class 1 railroads use.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Union Pacific also put in a bunch of concrete ties on the Chicago-St. Louis line -- that turned out to be defective and were replaced at the manufacturer's expense. Concrete ties are no panacea.

  • The question I have is, why is it only 55mph on "most" of the line? What areas can't handle 55 and what is the reason? Could it have been fixed during this project?

  • In reply to chris:

    My thoughts as well. I assume it's legal rather than technical. And possibly because of something legal they didn't spend a relatively small amount more to address some technical issue if there is one still on those new tracks. (ScooterLibby you listening?)

    But even going 65 or 70 for some of the stretches between stations would likely only have saved a minute or so. Then too the rail cars may have only been designed for 55 and more would increase the wear and tear.

  • In reply to wegerje:

    Well, you certainly can't go 55 mph in areas where you are approaching or leaving a station. And there are a lot of stations.

  • Nice photo. So what's the plan for fixing the out-of-spec platform distances around the rest of the system? The LaSalle/Van Buren platform is horrible. There is at least a 4 inch rise from the platform to the car. Even the new 5000 series cars can't lower themselves to the platform level.

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