Red Line riders coming face-to-face with new CTA rail cars

The CTA on Monday added two eight-car Series 5000 trains to the Red Line. So the busiest “L” line and its riders now get to check out the smooth, quiet ride, and see whether they like the long expanses of aisle-facing seats.

I actually do like the new cars. They are quiet, more roomy, and accelerate and decelerate smoothly because they use alternating current (AC) propulsion and braking technology. I just don’t like using the molded “bucket” seats. But I lost that battle, so I will try to enjoy the ride – and hope there’s room for all to use every seat.

Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman today noted some good tips on making your ride more comfy:

Rush for the “good” seats: Run, do not walk, past the elderly and the infirm to nab the few remaining seats with some extra butt room. The four seats per car that face forward or back, and the ones at the empty-space end of a long center-facing run of seats, let you scooch over and hang your hindquarters a bit over the edge.


Precision aim: If you must sit between two people, do so carefully. Position your haunches at thecenter of the bucket and slowly slide yourself in with as little physical contact as possible.

Seriously, I think we’ll all finally get used to the new configuration and laugh later at the big fuss we made.

For more photos of the new rail cars, check out the CTA’s Flickr set.


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  • The bizarre note from today's is that they just swapped some cars from the Green Line, apparently just so the make the date. I guess CTA has sufficient funds to support this meaningless transfer of equipment back and forth and back and forth.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, the CTA must have an unlimited supply of cash to waste!
    As I wrote a week or so ago, they've added little signs [about 5"x8"] on many bust stop poles telling people to text to get bus arrival times.
    Except that every bus stop sign has the same info a few feet higher on the pole!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    That's bus stop poles, dammit!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    On a similar note, it has been a month since the other service boards posted their proposed budget, but CTA still has not posted its, which is even later than usual. Maybe money doesn't mean anything to them.

    But, it the meantime, maybe that's something else Kevin can ask them about.

  • In reply to jack:

    How much do you think it costs to move a train from the green to the red line?

    By the way, I'm still looking forward to riding one of these new trains. Haven't had a chance yet because I now ride the blue line primarily.

  • In reply to chris:

    More than it costs not doing it.

    This sounds like 1899 that if the NW Elevated didn't run one train into the loop by a certain date, it lost its franchise, so they ran one and the police tried to arrest it. Unfortunately, CTA's operating rights do not depend on that.

    It just proves to me that CTA's management does not know what it is doing or is covering up. As someone else mentioned on, if the 5000s are working according to specs, you stock one line and then stock another.

    CTA is going through two charades here: first the fairly obvious one that since for some very unexplained reason, they don't want new equipment on the Blue Line, even though it has the equipment that is being replaced now, they are shifting 2400s to the Red to shift 2600s to the Blue, but that wasn't good enough, so they are shifting the 2400s back to the Green so they can tell the news media that they have 5000s on the Red.

    So, why don't you explain that to us, Chris?

  • In reply to jack:

    Rode the Green today.
    Outbound it was a 5000 [5108]. The back of the seats are 6" from the outer wall for some insane reason.
    At the B end of the car, there is a 12" gap between the seat end & bulkhead. More than enough room for wider seats.

    Plus, they're running all six car consists on the Green through the mid day, when normally it's four cars. When the train got to Clinton this morning inbound, 9:20 AM, it was jammed.
    But it was also a 5000 & it seemed that it was jammed due to people being forced to stand because only every other seat was occupied!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Just reinforces the point I made in connection with the stanchions that they reduced the seating capacity by about half. And that's from the lower seating capacity on the 1 x 2 cars as compared to the 2 x 2 cars.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    "forced to stand because only every other seat was occupied!"

    How exactly were you or anyone else forced to stand when only every other seat was occupied? If you see an open seat just sit in it... or are you afraid of cooties?

  • In reply to untitledreality:

    Maybe "every other seat was occupied" because those occupying them had posteriors in excess of 17.5 inches. Like maybe 26.

    Let's see how aggressive you would be squeezing in. Sort of like the guy on the airplane in the Jimmy John's commercial.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not sure why you're accusing me of anything, just asked you a question since you brought up the cost involved.

    I don't recall them ever promising the red would have the new trains by a certain day, so not sure why they would press to meet a deadline. Doesn't make sense as it's not like it's a station opening where people notice if it's still closed.

    As for the blue line and a lack of new cars, that is interesting. I assume they tested them on it during the trail phase.

  • In reply to chris:

    I'm not accusing you of anything.

    You asked a question not within my realm of expertise (except being similar to a commercial for "People Like Us" on WYCC--"we changed the subject" "to what" "to not buying one"), so I returned the favor.

    But I bet Claypool doesn't know how much money is being wasted by this practice, either.

  • I just read Claypool's idiotic argument that the 5000's seating adds a whole 6" in the aisle!
    Wow, 6" extra

    The seats are 17.5" wide, while my shoulders are 21.5" wide.
    My shoulders aren't fat, but Claypool's head certainly is!
    This is one of the more egregious cases of cognitive dissonance around lately!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Someone at CTA (probably Claypool) said that they couldn't run 5000s on the Dan Ryan segment until it was fixed. So, again, either there is cognitive dissonance or the reports of two trains of them being on the Red Line is false. I'll vote for the first.

  • OT for this post, but do you know when the CTA is going to announce the schedule for the Holiday Train? For many years the train has operated starting the weekend before Thanksgiving ( for the Mag Mile Festival of Lights) - which is this upcoming weekend.

    Usually, they announce the schedule by about 2-3 weeks before the train season starts. We're well past that point now.

    Is it possible they are not planning on having a holiday train this year due to funding or union issues? (Does anyone there remember the outcry the year it almost didn't happen? ) Even if they don't have the specific times of operation, they should at least be able to announce what days it will operate if they are planning on running it.

  • In reply to Bess:

    Bess, I have heard the CTA will announce the schedule this week. Possibly even today? Remember, Thanksgiving is a week early this year, so I doubt the train will start before T-giving. Last year it started the Friday after T-giving.

  • I'm surprised at how much I like the new cars also. I think it's the quiet, and the large amount of space there is for standing passengers now.

  • Rode in a new car on the Red Line this already smells of stale booze and broken dreams......

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