Why an Orange Line CTA train might turn Brown in the Loop

In the last year, a few readers have asked why their Orange Line train turns Brown in the Loop. Here’s why:

To accommodate increased ridership, there have been some trains departing from other terminals and changing over at some point to operate as Brown Line trains, according to a CTA spokesperson. This car-train movement from one rail line to another is done due to the rail yard capacity constraints at Kimball.  The Kimball rail yard is too small for the number of car-trains needed for service.

Currently, two trains from Howard and one train from Midway are assigned to help supplement Brown Line service during the AM rush period.

From Howard, the trains operate as Purple Line Express to Belmont. At Belmont they become Brown Line trains that serve the Loop and return northbound to Kimball to make a second southbound Brown Line run. After going around the Loop twice as Brown Line trains, the trains then switch to Purple Line Express service after Clark/Lake and operate northbound to Howard.

However, when the the CTA’s Crowd Reduction Plan goes into effect next month, two additional trips will be added to Brown Line service. At that time, to streamline operations, all five supplemental AM rush period Brown Line trips will originate from Midway and return to Midway after completing a Brown Line trip to/from Kimball.


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  • seems dumb to me. at least an extra coming from howard can make the stops from belmont south, alleviating some of the capacity much quicker than an orange having to get all the way to kimball before being any help

  • In reply to whateva:

    As Kevin pointed out, the Brown Line schedule shows two a.m. southbound trips starting at Belmont, which come from the Purple Line (or at least were sighted going express on the embankment). The above post indicates that that is going to change. However, the Red Line probably needs the cars for its temporary crowd reduction plan.

    Also, a poster there under the name of "Fails the Turing Test Icon" went through the CTA GTFS data, and determined that while the Brown Line portion of the runs is in the data (and presumably on Train Tracker), the Orange Line portion is not. See the "Timings of the Brownage and Ravenstons" thread. Kevin, maybe your brother can explain the data.

    As far as there not being enough storage at Kimball, that point goes back about 15 years to when Adam Kerman's "Citizen's Transit Authority" was protesting the Brown Line project. If you ask me, there is plenty of surplus storage at 54th Yard (capacity of 108, and depending how the 5000s shake out, demand for 44 cars).

  • What seems dumb to me is their "crowd reduction plan."

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Still grousing about Chicago politicians from your neighborhood? What changed your mind?

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    Why don't they make the Purple Line trains the same length as the Brown Line trains? The PL trains are already stuffed with BL commuters. . .

  • In reply to Linda LaFianza:

    Some of the platforms in Evanston can't handle 8 car trains, only 6 car trains.

  • Which Evanston platforms _do_ have capacity for eight-car trains?

  • In reply to Noah121:

    Probably doesn't matter, as the constraint is the shortest platform.

    The only new stations are at Davis and Linden. I haven't put the tape measure to their platforms.

    Also, I see that as a result of editing my prior post, I left out that the observations and thread were on chicagobus.org.

  • In reply to jack:

    According to chicago-l.org, Linden would not be able to accommodate an 8-car train. I also doubt that Davis could, either. It does seem as though Foster and Noyes could take an 8-car train if they installed decking over the open ends of the platforms and moved the turnstiles.

  • Yet another diminishment of Evanston Express service. It is near impossible to board a Northbound Evanston train, from say, Chicago Ave, in the PM because it is filled with people using it as a de facto Ravenswood train. This is an affront to return trip commuters who paid a premium for the "Express" trip in the AM. And its a trait of the CTA which in fact creates service by diminishing service it already provides, e.g. calling the Pink Line a new route when it simple cannibalism of the Douglas branch of the Blue Line.

  • In reply to oconnorm:

    What premium?

    At one time you had to show an express check, but that was abolished when CTA got rid of conductors and went to mag card fare media.

    If you pay a premium fare and want a premium ride, ride Metra.

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