Slow zone pain: South Siders feel it on Dan Ryan branch of CTA Red Line

White Sox and Cubs fans planning to use the Red Line for next week’s Crosstown Classic at U.S. Cellular Field will feel the pain that South Side commuters have experienced pretty much all year — a plodding train limping through a 1.5-mile slow zone southbound between Cermak/Chinatown and Sox/35th.

There are a total of 45,275 feet of slow zones on the Dan Ryan branch of
the Red Line, according to the CTA’s June 7 slow zone map. More than
half of that is in a 15-mile-per-hour crawl zone – 26,225 feet.

The worst slow zone area – almost 10,000 feet – is in that southbound stretch between Cermak/Chinatown and Sox/35th.

slow zone work.jpg

Slow zone work on the Blue Line (CTA photo)

I’ve been to U.S. Cellular Field a couple of times in the last two
weeks. The excitement one might have at the Cermak/Chinatown stop of
being just 1.5 miles from Sox Park is quickly dampened by
the excruciatingly long ride to Sox/35th. I can only imagine what it
must be like for someone trying to get to a bus at 95th Street from the Loop.

Here’s a rough comparison of travel times over approximately the same distance between the north and south branches of the Red Line:

From Monroe (100 South) to 69th Street (6900 South) on the Red Line, Google Maps says it takes 50 minutes to go about 8 miles (it’s pretty much a straight shot) and stop at eight stations.

View Larger Map

Meanwhile, from Lake (100 North) to Morse (6900 North) on the Red Line, Google Maps says it takes 36 minutes to travel about 9 miles (because you have to go almost two miles west) and stop at 17 stations.

View Larger Map

Bottom line: It takes 10 minutes longer to travel one mile less and stop at nine fewer stations on the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line, than on the north branch of the Red Line.

South Siders, we’re really feeling for you.

The good news is the CTA is in the process of repairing the slow zone between Cermak/Chinatown and Sox/35th.

Monday through Thursday this week, trains are operating on the same track between Cermak/Chinatown and Sox/35th from 10:30 p.m till 4:30 a.m. the next day for track maintenance.

I haven’t had a chance to ask the CTA when that slow zone will be lifted. For the sake of South Siders – and Sox-Cubs fans – let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.


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  • Of course, the CTA Construction Report of March 2007 said that they replaced track work between Cermak and 47th. I guess Cermak to 35th isn't in that stretch.

    Maybe they should explain what work they are doing now and if they are addressing the point in Ed's first paragraph. If not, then if we take Ed's last paragraph, there aren't going to be any discretionary expenditures.

  • As someone who commutes five days a week from the north side to IIT at the Sox/35th station, I appreciate the information. I've only had one operator mention that the slow zones were caused by the bad winter weather and under repair.

    A follow-up post with a response from the CTA would be greatly appreciated.

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