CTA track work reduces slow zones to lowest level since 1997

The CTA’s track modernization projects over the last four years have resulted in the lowest level of L slow zones since 1997 – just 5.5 percent at the end of 2015.

In 2007, more than 22 percent of the elevated tracks were designated slow zones – areas where trains are required to operate at slower-than-normal speeds, some as low as 15 miles per hour.

The most recent slow zone improvement projects have lowered travel times between two to five minutes per trip on average, or four to 10 minutes for a round-trip, depending on the time of day, the CTA reports.

Service reliability improvement projects
Since 2011, CTA has eliminated approximately 20 miles of slow zones across its rail lines through major track and infrastructure improvement projects. Some recent examples include:

  • Ravenswood Connector Rehabilitation: approximately two miles of slow zones eliminated on Brown and Purple Express tracks between Armitage and Merchandise Mart
  • Purple Line Express Improvement Project: approximately four miles of slow zones eliminated on Purple Express tracks between Lawrence and Jarvis—the largest such project along that stretch in more than 40 years
  • Milwaukee Blue Line Track Renewal (part of Your New Blue): about three miles of slow zones eliminated on Blue Line tracks between Damen and Logan Square
  • Red Line South Reconstruction: nearly 10 miles of slow zones eliminated on Red Line tracks between Roosevelt and 95th Street
  • Green Line Ashland/63rd Branch track improvements: about 1.5 miles of slow zones eliminated on Green Line tracks between Halsted and Garfield stations

Coming up in April is the Green Line West Track Renewal Project, a track improvement project that will prevent imminent slow zones from developing along aging Green Line tracks between Laramie and Harlem/Lake stations.


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  • The Congress section of the Blue Line is still at 13.1%. *Zero* percent was removed in December. Ridiculous. They've been farting around with this section of track for years now.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    They apparently believe that IDOT will replace it and the expressway in about 2020.

  • In reply to jack:

    Lol. At the rate they're going, 2020 seems like a good completion date. They've been milking this one for years. If I'm not mistaken, they started work on the Congress line before the Red line reconstruction started, and that complete rebuild took less time than fixing a few thousand feet of bad track.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Well, at least most of it is at the 25-35mph instead of 15mph speeds.

    If they continue to not work on it now that it constitutes the majority of the slow zones in the system, then I think it will tell us that they are waiting to lump it in with another bigger project.

  • In reply to chris:

    That's the impression I got.

  • 1997 huh? How ironic.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Are you trying to make the point that the system went into disrepair when Kruesi took over? Undoubtedly correct.

  • In reply to jack:

    No but you're warm. Guess again.

  • OK, so they completed the Ravenswood Connector project, which should have eliminated the slow zones between Merchandise Mart and Armitage. So, does anyone know why the trains creep along at 15 mph for several blocks when they exit Hubbard Curve (northbound) until finally picking up speed for a short stretch before braking for Chicago Ave station? I know there a x-over at Grand, but I can't believe operation through a crossover is limited to 15 mph.

  • Its about time they got it together!

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