Video: Driver's view of CTA Red Line from Howard to 95th

Now this is cool. The CTA this week posted to its Facebook page a time-lapse video of the entire length of the Red Line, filmed from the operator’s cab.

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  • Is there a website, document, or other resource that describes the operating procedures for an operator? For the life of me, I can't figure out why some operators insist on stopping the train in the middle of a block, moving it again 10 feet, stopping, etc. Is it a mechanical problem? Cab signals? Over-speed indicator?

    For example, this morning my Brown Line train stopped in the middle of the curve at Wells and Van Buren. The operator then moved the train maybe 10 feet before stopping again. There is no block signal in this location, and there was no train in front of us at the LaSalle or Library stop.

    The same thing happened last night on the northbound Brown line near Ontario.

  • If you ride in the front car, you can hear the cab chime go off. It means the motorman is required to do something, such as go slower or stop.
    Most of the time it's due to anomalous signals being generated by the CTA's cab control system, which is both outmoded & wearing out.
    I hear it go off at the curve from Wilson to Lawrence & when the train gets on the straight away, you can see there isn't another train all the way past Granville, a distance of 1.75 miles.
    I don't believe there are any old time block signals on the system as they were only in the 1940s subway tubes.
    Prior to the 1977 two train wreck at Lake/Wabash, almost the entire L system, except for the subway tunnels operated "On sight" except at the interlocking plants or junctions.
    I don't know of any books on how the CTA rail operates. The only book I ever saw at the library was a test prep book to be a NYC motorman.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    They just replaced the cab signal system on the Loop L. So, if "it is outmoded and worn out," let Brian Steele know.

    Your history is also wrong. Cab signals started when the Lake Dan Ryan opened in 1969. The Loop L accident happened under cab signal control, where the operator had a red, but somehow ignored it and hit the preceding train at less than 6 mph, but with enough power to push his train off the structure.

    Spiny, the best source was Krambles and Peterson, CTA at 45, which is now 20 years old. seems to summarize L operations about as well as anyone.

  • In reply to jack:

    The second train was operating under "Flasher 15" which meant that the train could run up to 15MPH even with the cab control working.
    Then the motorman, who was smoking pot, just rammed the first train.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    But certainly contradicts your prior statement "Prior to the 1977 two train wreck at Lake/Wabash, almost the entire L system, except for the subway tunnels operated "On sight" except at the interlocking plants or junctions."

  • In reply to jack:

    I had forgotten that the Loop & a few parts of the system had cab control then, that's all.
    The rest of it was "on sight" until just after the wreck.

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  • Thanks everyone. I'll check the references out. I'm simply trying to determine if the piss poor operation of the trains is due to incompetent motormen, or crappy equipment. For the life of me, I can't figure out why the trains can't be operated in a smooth manner, so standing passengers aren't required to hang on for dear life. Quickly accelerating the train, only to quickly stop it 20 feet later, is nuts.

    Along the same lines, is the interlock at Lake and Wells computer controlled, or manually controlled? It's mind numbing how many times I'm in the first car of an outbound Purple train, and see the double red, requiring the motorman to stop. Ten seconds later the yellow over red signal is given to proceed. I can clearly see that an inbound Pink or Green has just cleared the crossing, and an inbound Brown line is approaching, so we're going to get the yellow over red, but yet the switches aren't aligned in time to allow the train to continue without stopping.

    Lastly, why is it that the first cold snap of the year always seems to catch the CTA unprepared? This is Chicago, and not Houston for crying out loud. A simple 25 minute commute this morning turns into 45 minutes due to equipment problems.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Most of these I don't know, but someone on was complaining that someone was defeating the smooth stop feature on the 5000s.

  • In reply to jack:

    I've been on numerous 5000's where the stop was anything but smooth. In fact, my dead grandmother could bring the train to a stop smoother than the motormen operating the train.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    In that CTA has a solicitation for automatic berthing equipment, probably any corpse will be able to do better than currently.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's only a matter of time before the motorman is eliminated, or relegated to a secondary role in the cab. There are numerous people movers that operate without a person in the cab. Over time, automation will reach the point where the driver will more likely to make a mistake. Of course, software/hardware is not perfect, so I have no issue with having a human in the cab.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    But that gets down to the DC Metrorail train that was supposedly automated, but didn't stop, killing the operator. The operator was still necessary to inspect the side doors.,

  • And if you have a gripe, you can tweet CTA. ST has an article about where they go before they are ignored.

    Also, the subject of that article got his job after he was running an "independent website" campaigning for a CTA tax increase, including that there shouldn't be a differential between the Cook and collar county sales taxes. Apparently his web template business was not working out.

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