CTA bids formal farewell Wednesday to 2400 Series rail cars

After nearly 40 years of service and millions, the CTA on Wednesday will formally say good-bye to the 2400 Series rail cars, as they make their last runs on the Brown, Red and Green lines.

Photo fro CTA Flickr

Photo fro CTA Flickr

The cars were first put into service in 1976, when the country was celebrating its bicentennial. The cars were delivered with bold, red-white-and-blue graphics on both the sides and the end of the cars. They were initially introduced into Ravenswood Service (today’s Brown Line) and North-South Route (roughly today’s North Side Red Line and South Side Green Line, via the State Street Subway), and West-Northwest Route (today’s Blue Line).

The final runs will start at about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday at Washington/Wells on the Brown Line side. View the rest of the schedule.

Here are some "fun facts" about the 2400 Series cars, provided by the CTA:

  • Built by Boeing-Vertol, the car’s interior and exterior designs were developed by industrial design firm Sundberg-Ferar, who also worked on cars for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, DC Metro), Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The CTA’s 2400-series are the only heavy rail rapid transit cars Boeing ever manufactured.
  • The interiors of the cars were a departure from previous series in several aspects and set the standard by which ‘L’ cars interiors would be designed for the next few decades, featuring fiberglass seats with padded colored inserts, walnut grain-pattern wainscot panels with beige molded plastic upper walls, and chocolate colored rubber floors. The 2400-series cars are notable as featuring a return to wide sliding side doors instead of bi-fold blinker-type doors, which had been featured on all ‘L’ cars built in the preceding 30 years. These sliding doors allowed for freer passenger flow and were more suitable for access by persons with disabilities.
  • The electrical equipment was updated and improved over that on the preceding 2200-series. A major change was the use of a motor-alternator to supply 230-volt 60-hertz alternating current (AC) power for all the auxiliary systems on the car, allowing less expensive components to be employed. These changes represented another step in the evolutionary path that eventually led to the modern 5000-series cars being delivered today, whose entire propulsion system is AC-powered.
  • The 2400-series cars are one of the few car series to have operated on every line on the ‘L’ system. At various points in their service lives, they were assigned to the lines that make up seven of the eight ‘L’ services today. While never formally assigned to the Yellow Line, they operated there on rare occasions when substitute equipment was needed, since they were stabled in the same yard as the normal Yellow Line equipment.
  • Two of the rail cars were given to the Illinois Railway Museum, where they are on display today.
  • Nearly 200 2400-series cars were retired. CTA retains two dozen of the cars that have been modified to serve as maintenance/work trains. Some of the 2400-series rail cars used in today’s retirement ceremony will become part of CTA’s historic rail car fleet, and will be used for special events and paid charters.


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    Well, hell. Now we're going to be stuck with those terrible 5000 cars that only have eight seats and some benches. I can't wait until those get retired and we get some proper cars with forward facing seats again.

  • In reply to Joseph Finn:

    I'm sure you will be around, say in 2057, if these have the service life their predecessors did.

  • but the piss and pestilence will go on.

  • I'll miss them. They were ordered when I was covering the CTA for the Chicago Daily News, and were hailed as "state-of-the-art." Ironically, the even older wooden cars preceding the introduction of the bi-fold door series had sliding doors that easily could accommodate wheelchairs. The 2400s arrived just as the feds were implementing new access rules.

    All those old cars that I remember from my childhood had seats, some of them reversible, and not those awful benches. I was always kind of glad that I didn't have to look directly into riders' crotches, like New Yorkers did. Totally agree with the observation about the benches facing each other are horrible. Besides, I liked looking out the window at the passing cityscape. Progress? Yuk.

  • Didn't I read somewhere recently about Metra's plans to put some samples of possible new seats in Union Station for people to try out and comment, and then to phase them in on a few trains before committing?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    That was done at all the Downtown train stations about a month ago.
    I didn't get a chance to try them out, but they released a survey of those that did & said a majority liked them, even though half would face backwards. All the fixed seats would face the center vestibule.
    They will at this writing, have armrests on both sides of each seat & possibly a drinkholder recess.
    I still like the original C&NW seats where the backrest actuall flipped over & the back of the seat was an aluminum plate, so you weren't sitting against where someone who crossed their legs rubbed it with their often filty shoes.
    The orange color was also nicer than Metra's ugly dark green.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Whatever the outcome, the point is that they gave the public a chance to try them out and opened the process up to the possibility that drawbacks might be brought to their attention before it was too late. Remarkable!

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I guess you forgot that after about 50 of the 5000s were in service, the CTA had the unmitigated gall to put out an online survey about seats & asked people which they prefer.
    There were only two choices though, the current wretched sideways seats or the New York style bench seat.
    A totally fraudulent survey designed to get the answer that was predetermined.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Nope, I didn't forget that. It was quite clear that they had already decided what was going to happen and didn't seriously want any input. Metra, on the other hand, seems sincere. Maybe they heard about the CTA seating fiasco.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I thought the subject was the 2400s, and in the 70s rider reaction was measured, although it essentially was for the beige and orange aesthetic in the buses and the 2400s.

    We all know that Claypool only listens to Emanuel, and Emanuel listens to no one, and after having told the passengers to stick it with respect to the 5000s, said that the 7000s would be different, then put the 7000s on hold.

    chicago-l.org says that the 3500 series (which became the 5000s when no one would bid on a DC motor spec) was initially planned, it would have the seating like the 2400s and 2600s.The real question is who on CTA staff us unwilling to take the blame for changing that sometime between 2002 and 2006 without any rider input.

  • In reply to jack:

    I thought you've previously written that he retired a while ago.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    No antecedent to your pronoun.

  • Another winter day, and another CTA commute from hell. How can a transit agency operating in a northern climate be so unprepared for cold weather? The Brown line has been operating this morning on the inner loop due to switching problems, and the Purple Line was re-routed to the State St subway. I boarded the Brown line at Chicago Ave, and it took 30 minutes before we entered the inner loop. Grrrr. I simply can't believe that the inner loop (minus) the Purple lines trains) is so overloaded that it can't handle the additional Brown Line trains. As my train sat parked north of Merchandise Mart for more than 20 minutes, I saw at least 4 Brown Line trains heading north. Ummm, shouldn't the basic rule be "one leaves, and one enters"?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Whatever the switching problem was, it shows that CTA capital projects work as usual. There were the 2 Loop track and signal projects, including rebuilding what made Tower 18 operate.

    The Loop used to be much busier when the Lake-Dan Ryan was on it, but stuff like only being able to go one way led to the 1977 train crashing off the L structure (as well as, apparently, the operator not having his head in the game)..

    And if it were don't enter until another exits, how many trains would be lined up at Merchandise Mart?

  • In reply to jack:

    I assume the problem was at the Wabash/Van Buren junction, and not Tower 18. Also, I see that the Orange Line was rerouted to the outer platform, so there should have been plenty of capacity on the inner loop. My hunch is that since they were operating with non-standard routing, they were being (overly) cautious. However, I would expect there to be contingency plans in place.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I was just going to post that the Tribune just so stated. Apparently there was something similar forcing the Orange Line in the opposite direction a couple of weekends ago. But the rest of what I said I suppose still stands.

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