Update on longitudinal seating in train cars
Last week a reader emailed me wondering about the status of longitudinal seating in train cars. So I asked the CTA.
- Longitudinal seating is coming, but probably not for at least three years.
- The new cars will run on AC power, cutting maintenance and power costs.
- The number of seats will remain the same. Only the configuration changes as most seats will face the aisle.
- Each car will be equipped with a security camera.
I rode in a test car last summer. There was plenty of room to maneuver. I just didn't like sitting cheek-to-cheek with my neighbors. I thing seating will be a lot tighter.
Click below to read more details from Gaffney's note to me.
Customer Service forwarded your inquiry about new rail cars to me.
Last year the CTA issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the manufacture of new rail cars. Among the features requested in the bid criteria were aisle-facing seats. The aisle-facing seating configuration adds six-inches to the narrowest portion of the aisle; more space for standing customers with more support poles and straps in the center of the car; and can accommodate 39 seats which means the number of seats available will be the same. Customers carrying backpacks, packages, luggage, strollers and bikes will have more room to maneuver. Additionally, the new configuration allows for one more wheelchair position (two per car) than the current configuration (one per car).
(By the way, another feature requested was security cameras. That may be of interest to your readers too.)
The CTA is currently reviewing the bids that were received in response to the RFP. Once staff has determined a recommended bidder, the procurement will go to the Chicago Transit Board for approval. We won't have a detailed timeline until we have selected a manufacturer, but it will be a multi-year process. The rail cars have to be built and we wouldn't expect to take possession of the first new cars for probably close to three years from the execution of a contract. That is just an estimate. Once a contract is awarded we will have a more specific timeline.
The rail cars will replace older rail cars, some more than 30 years old, such as the 2200-series Budd cars that were purchased in 1969-70, as well as the 2400-series Boeing-Vertol cars purchased in 1976-78. CTA’s most recent purchase of new rail cars was in the 1990s when 3200-series cars were purchased for the opening of the Orange Line, and to replace older cars on the Brown and Yellow Lines. Plans for the manufacture of new rail cars are part of long term capital improvement plans to upgrade the quality of CTA’s rail and bus fleet. The CTA has made similar investments in its bus fleet.
The RFP specifications also call for the new rail cars to run on AC (alternating current) traction motor propulsion. The existing CTA fleet uses DC (direct current) motors to drive trains. AC propulsion converts the DC energy in the third (power) rail to alternating current for the traction motors. AC propulsion systems are used by transit agencies in New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, among others.
DC systems such as the one in use at CTA are becoming obsolete. Converting to a more modern AC system will improve reliability and reduce the growing cost of maintaining an outdated system. For example, there are more equipment suppliers for AC motors than for DC, so the supply will be more reliable and the costs more competitive.
Through regeneration, AC propulsion offers power savings. Some of the power used to accelerate the train can be recovered and put back into the power (third) rail when stopping the train. This provides additional power to accelerate other trains and reduces the total amount of energy required to run the system. On trains using DC propulsion systems, the braking energy is dissipated as heat.
Hope that answers your question.