New rail cars to get colored LED destination signs

All 706 of the new rail cars – including 40 already delivered – will sport colored LED destination signs on the front, back and sides in the color of the rail line, CTA officials announced at the monthly board meeting.

All older model rail cars currently have destination signs depicted in the rail line color. The lack of colored LED signs was one criticism of the new rail cars. The retrofit will cost a total of about $8.5 million, the Tribune reports, “but the transit agency will not pay the additional amount because credits were factored into the $1.137 billion contract, said CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan.”

This is a good change that should reduce customer confusion.

Transit officials also said the Pink Line, where the new Series 5000 rail cars currently are deployed, should have only the new cars by no later than February. Then the Green Line will get the next deployment of new cars.


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  • About time they did the right thing. However, I find it hard to believe that they gave the go ahead to start the production order (apparently without telling the boss) while relying on 6 year old specs, especially when Huberman got permission to use the "credits" about 3 years ago. Luminator Spectrum signs have been there for a while now, and 6515 proved that one can get a color sign.

  • Do you know what the reasoning is behind putting the new, higher capacity rail cars on the two lines with the lowest ridership levels first? You would think that it would make more sense to put them on the red and blue lines first... Just curious.

  • In reply to RFlores80:

    RFlores: It's my understanding that the reason they did that is precisely because the Pink Line has the lowest ridership and thus needs the fewest cars. Very soon the line will only be served by the new cars. Thus, maintenance will only have to deal with one kind of car.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    That appears to be the case, but it also appears that they are going from 4 to 6 car trains (see and one can question whether they really need that there.

    Also, the people are reporting that the 5000s are stalling at gaps in the third rail at Tower 18 junction. Maybe CTA wants to work that out on a light line first, but they better work it out.

    In the meantime, the Blue Line, with the oldest equipment, apparently never will get any, although it looks like enough money is going to be put into rebuilding the 3200s ($900K per car according to the CTA Budget) that they might be the equivalent. I'll bet the first thing they do is pull out the seats, and while the budget says LED Destination Signs, I wonder if imprinted institutional memory will have them ordering the amber ones.

  • In reply to jack:

    I am curious as to how the train stalled because of the gap, how many cars was the train?

    On a 4 car train I would think some shoes would still be in contact.

    Would you know if there is a train bus line carrying traction power? If not then I could see some cars stalling out and dragging others down with them.

  • All I can say is look at under the 5000s Arrive thread, especially BusHunter. He thought going to 6 car trains would take care of the problem, but Edgewater Roadie indicates a subsequent incident.

  • Either it's two car trains that are stalling, some bizarre MU problem caused by software, since multiple unit controls were first demonstrated by Sprague on the old South Side Rapid Transit in the 1890s & have run worldwide for a century without this problem or there is a problem with the couplers. Have they changed from the Ohio Brass form 5 to something else?
    Which means they have to have a switchman use the stingers to get power to the trains.
    I'm going to guess that it's two car trains, since all the 5000 cars I saw prior to regular service were running as eight car trains.
    It looks like the geniuses that bought them didn't do complete testing of them.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The reports are that they are 6 car trains (the Pink had at least 4 car trains before), and yes, I mentioned that MU and that jct have both been around for about 110 years. BusHunter mentioned that the first time they got out the stinger, but the second time they were stuck.

    As far as couplers, while the knuckles may be the same, I would guess (but CTA has not disclosed) that the pins would be different, because these cars have to carry information about the new type of traction controls, the "in the cab" diagnostic system, and the electronic signs system. Thus, while 6000s and 2000s both had Form 5 couplers, they couldn't be electrically connected, and I would bet the same here. While Krambles would have known, Claypool won't.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    It's too bad, because the Red and Blue Lines are the ones that actually need the new cars.

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    I think the cars being replaced on the Pink Line by 5000s are going to the Blue Line, and each time that happens a 2200 is retired...

    With the Green Line being next, wonder how long the new car smell will last...

  • As someone on the Trib website commented, how do you see brown LEDs?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Just use RGB theory. Computer indicates that orange is 255-128-64, Brown is 128-128-0. They can play with the luminosity figure if they want.

    Of course, there is the issue of the color blind, but they probably have the same problem with the roller sign that says Loop now.

  • How much will the seating retrofit cost by the time they end up doing it?

    Also, that explains why the Pink Line train was stalled blocking the Tower 18 junction during rush hour Monday afternoon.

  • In reply to Edgewater Roadie:

    The article claims that they have credits. Go back to the President's Report by Huberman on options that, for some reason, Rodriguez and Claypool didn't exercise before delivery commenced.

    It sort of sounds like that if you buy a new house, you get an allowance for carpeting, paint, and electrical fixtures, but the CTA decided just to select salvage and candles (metaphorically speaking), after paying the full price.

    As Scooter will point out, there was nothing said about retrofitting a better seating arrangement, just some protectant on the fabric, so that cost doesn't come in the calculation.

  • My point is I'm predicting there will be a huge backlash from customers about the new crappy seating arrangement on these cars once they hit the more heavily-used Red and Blue Lines. They at least need to have bench seats instead of the individual-molded ones, otherwise there will be many unused 1/2 seats as people can't or don't want to squeeze between two fat people.

    CTA could correct this problem now, but they won't. This recommendation was made as soon as the testing began. They refused to listen. The longer they wait, the more expensive it will be.

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