Say farewell Thursday to CTA's oldest rail cars with "blinker" doors

With mixed emotions we will say good-bye Thursday to the Budd 2200 series rail cars – the oldest cars in the fleet with the “blinker” doors previously in use on the CTA Blue Line. You know, the ones that are hard to get in and out of – and the only cars that will not accommodate wheelchairs.

CTA photo of the Budd 2200 series rail cars.

CTA photo of the Budd 2200 series rail cars.

To commemorate this blessed event, the CTA will have two final special runs starting Thursday morning:

  • A ceremonial short run will go round-trip and non-stop between Rosemont and Jefferson Park on the Blue Line. It will leave promptly at 10:05 a.m. from Rosemont. It won’t stop at Jefferson Park; it will turn just north of that station for a non-stop trip back.
  • A final full-stop regular run will leave O’Hare at 11:05 a.m. and make all stops to and from Forest Park. It’s scheduled to make its final stop back at O’Hare at around 2:05 p.m.
  • Normal fares will apply on both runs.

All eight rail cars will be decked out with their original exterior decals, according to a CTA news release, and will feature interior advertising cards from the period when they first launched.

The best news here is that with the retirement of these cars built in 1969-70, the entire CTA rail fleet will now be ADA-compliant and accommodate wheelchairs. The CTA will sell all except two of the remaining old cars for salvage. Two 2200s will be on display at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill., according to a Tribune report.

And check out the great video by Chicago Patterns blogger John Morris. He also has more photos and nice commentary and history of the 2200s on his blog.

End of the Line for the 2200 Series CTA Cars from Chicago Patterns on Vimeo.


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  • The CTA Budd 2200 series cars were the third oldest heavy rail transit cars in operation. New York City subway cars known as the R-32 series and cars operated by PATCO from Philadelphia across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Lindenwold, NJ are older. All three series of transit cars were built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia. The R-32s are now scheduled to begin retirement in 2015, but the PATCO cars are being refurbished for continued service. Budd Company was famous for building stainless steel vehicles. The CTA 2600 series were the last cars built at Budd's Red Lion plant.

  • I'll see everybody there.

  • I'll be there with my family for the 10:05 short run.

  • I'll be there to make sure its the last run. Get 'em off the blue.

  • From the way the original third rail pickup shoes were designed, it was obvious that the CTA was thinking of covering the third rail the way NYC does. Then they went back to the standard one.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    It isn't clear that that was the case, as opposed to these being the only cars that had Budd trucks.

    And, obviously, CTA couldn't go to that before about 1993 unless they converted the shoes on all the PCC trucks.

    I thought you were going to mention all the fires because the shoes were not adequately insulated from the trucks. I remember those. The rapid transit books indicated that an insulating shield had to be added.

  • In reply to jack:

    I forget, but were the fires from grounded trolley blocks? I remember a lot of those.
    I assumed for a while they were going to covert to the paddle pickups, but when I saw the 2400s had the old style, it must have been the cost that stopped it, even though they would have avoided needing sleet scrapers with the wood cover.
    And I have a sleet scraper as a paper weight, it flew off of a NB Evanston Express at Columbia Ave., right in front of me one afternoon. It would have been a great payday for my surviving relatives, but a really lousy one for me if I hadn't been under the viaduct at the time.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I independently recall the fires, but the documentation is in CERA 115 page 203. First it points out that the Clark B2 trucks on 6201-6510 had paddles, because otherwise the current collection equipment would be too close to some rubber joint. Next to those illustrations are before and after pictures of the Budd 2200 trucks, saying that the paddles didn't stay on the rail at high speed and arced even at low speed, and design changes were made, including "several pieces of shielding were incorporated." I can't make out all the differences, but clearly the "after" picture has a board between the sleet scraper bracket and wheel and some sort of baffle rearward of the paddle.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    This is just speculation, but I always thought the paddle shoes were because that's what they had in stock on the shelf -- from the Eastern systems.

    I would also think that the cost would be quite prohibitive for CTA to cover all the 3rd rails system wide, besides having to convert each and every 'L' car to paddle type shoes.

  • What CERA says is that they were standard Budd trucks, except they had coil springs instead of air springs. This is opposed to the trucks on the 2000s, which were the result of a research project with CTA and several manufacturers.

    Krambles's book states that after that, the cars had Wegmann trucks.

  • It's interesting to read the fondness people had for these cars when they first came out.

  • In reply to chris:

    That was fairly obvious at the time. Those were the first stainless steel cars (all the rest were painted aluminum and 570 were reprocessed streetcars), and while similar to the 2000s, didn't have the air conditioner dripping from being mounted overhead inside the car. Also, the 2000s and 2200s were about the only cars that had good acceleration, and, at the time, easily beat traffic on the Dan Ryan.

    While 2400s also had stainless steel bodies and distinctive decals, they remained pretty much unchanged (except for losing the decals) for the 37 years or so of their existence, and the 2200s, as a result of the mid life overhauls because less distinctive with replacing the leather seats and the like.

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