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The Santa (Holiday) Train schedule; how about a Tattler meetup/tweetup?

Yes folks, it's that time again! The CTA Santa Train is coming town starting this weekend. Of course, the CTA has to be more politically correct, so they call it the Holiday Train. But Santa certainly is the centerpiece as he rides a sleigh on two open flat-bed cars in the middle of the train.

And for those of you grinches who are going to complain about how much extra this costs us, hold your tongues. Basically, it's nada. We addressed this issue last year.

So here's the schedule. And if you keep checking back, the CTA links up a detailed schedule for upcoming dates.

Our pal Jasmine suggested that perhaps we could do a CTA Tattler meetup on the Santa Train this year. Maybe we could ride it around the Loop on Saturday, Dec. 13, on the Brown or Orange Line and then gather somewhere for good cheer. What do you think?


great idea! count me in

sounds great! Maybe you can get Ron to come along..


Beware of any times you see on this website and be sure to double-check before you go.

For four days, they had several incorrect times posted for southbound Red Line trains between Belmont and 95th on Saturday, Nov. 23. They were off by an hour, so if you made plans to get on the train at those stations - check again. It's fixed now - they dno longer have the train scheduled in two places at once.

The newest mistake can be found by linking to the December 2 date in the posting Kevin linked to. You click on Dec. 2, but get a page that tells you Saturday, Nov. 29. The times are really for December 2, but if someone isn't paying attention, they might think it is the schedule for Nov. 29 -- because that's what the page says. (and don't get me started on the redundant language...) Either Santa has new helpers or they are getting sloppy.

I am (obviously) SO THERE. :)

Count me in.

I think I'll bring my two nieces so that MK or Bob S won't be tempted to bring snowballs with rocks inside...


Sign me up! As the Gap Band cautioned in "Party Train," "if you miss that train you'll be so sad."

So who will play the Grinch this year? So many choices...

Not me. I'll be wearing my Santa hat.


The Grinch wore a Santa hat too, KevinB. You're the perfect candidate since you're threatening to use defenseless children as a human shield and suggested RonH join us in a shameless attempt to ruin his weekend. ;)

Well, it wouldn't be to ruin Rons weekend....although it would be poetic justice if the train got stuck and Santa shook his hand at the control tower....lol


Hey, KevinB, I agree with a lot of the points you make. But there've been times it kinda sounded like conspiracy theory, s'all.

I was just kidding Bob.

I'd never use my nieces that way...I get too much joy out terrorizing my sister through them :)

I don't think there's any group out to get me or make my life a living hell (well maybe one of my more psychotic exes perhaps)...I do sometimes wonder if there's a loose organization of idiots, morons and cretins put on this earth to test my patience...unfortunately alot of them seem to congregate at the CTA, especially whoever designs/approves the station construction, rail and bus operations, management, budgeting, etc, etc, etc.



that sounds fun, although i would have to know details in advance because of work. :D

The release is up making it official - 3 track at Fullerton is over.

Does this have any significant impact on operations? I'm sure that one bottleneck is sufficient to cause most of the delay, in the same way that shortening a construction-zone on a highway from 2 miles to 1 doesn't help the hour-long traffic jam backed up where the lane closes, though it may get you through the zone itself 10 seconds faster.

Is Belmont enough to keep the whole thing pretty clotted, or will there be some major improvement?

Even with it's own track between Belmont and Fullerton for some unknown reason there are still stops/slowdowns. I'm interested to see if it fixes the problem or it will be mroe of the same...


QUESTION: This is the second weekend in a row I've seen work being done on the orange/green line between 16th and Roosevelt... there are big cranes and a crew of at least a dozen... why no mention on any public CTA documentation... whats going on there?

The CTA web site states that there is structure, track, and tie work being done on the Orange/Green line this weekend.

[I'm interested to see if it fixes the problem or it will be mroe of the same...]

For what it's worth, I rode the Red Line south to downtown yesterday evening, and I figured Track 1 at Fullerton was open even before we got there because we were going so much faster than normal after leaving Belmont.

The Holiday Train Blue Line schedule note that Santa and his Elves will actually be "available for photos" from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at O'Hare Station. Does this mean the usual gang of CTA enforcers won't be threatening photographers with arrest?

All of the Grinches and Scrooges in all of CTA-ville are powerless to spread their ill will when the Santa Train is rolling.

I dislike the Santa Train (there, I said it) but I'll meet up with you guys afterward if you'll post where.

the CTA holiday train is great! i remember the first time i finally saw it in person was last year it brightened my day when i saw it go by over head so I made it a point to see it from the inside this year. I picked it up at Sheridan but on Saturday it was 35 minutes late from the schedule time. I got home from work at 6pm on Sunday and there was a holiday train scheduled at 6 at Sheridan again so I walked over to the other tracks just as the Xmas train was coming from the other direction and I rode it again LOL. It was fun and they did a great job..

i suggest Helen Schiller play the Grinch

its pretty much the only time you can snap away on your camera and not worry about the cta police trying to take your film lol


The Holiday Train Blue Line schedule note that Santa and his Elves will actually be "available for photos" from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at O'Hare Station. Does this mean the usual gang of CTA enforcers won't be threatening photographers with arrest?

Posted by: Leigh Hanlon | November 22, 2008 at 09:37 PM

CTA photography guidelines still apply.

The general public is allowed to take snapshots in public areas.

No flash photography at approaching trains for safety reasons.

Photographers are not allowed to enter or photograph non-public areas of CTA stations.

Photographers are prohibited from obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers and blocking doors or stairs.

Equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. is not allowed – except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA. (and then you would have a permit indicating such)

If an employee questions you, then politely remind them of the photography policy.

Usually, the only time I see a photographer get hassled is when they're photographing in some area they shouldn't be, getting in people's way (yes, that means the great shot from the stairs or laying down on the platform), or carrying an entitlement chip on their shoulder.

Have fun and share your pictures!

(note to Leigh Hanlon: Are you taking exaggeration and hyperbole lessons from KevinB? )

Well, no Leigh is not, again (if that's your real name). There's been many incidents in which a CTA employee or contracted employee has taken it upon him or herself to stop people from legally taking pictures in stations and on platforms.

What are the car numbers for the Holiday Train?

I reported such an incident myself at the Howard st station. I snapped a picture of the standing water on the floor and the leaking roof and was told that I was violating CTA policy. Ho Hyperbole there.


I'm not exaggerating. In my circle of well-behaved, considerate photographer friends, folks have been threatened with arrest for all of the following:

1. For talking pictures of the Irving Park Brown Line Station while standing across the street.

2. For holding a digital camera at arm's length and snapping a self-portrait while hugging a girlfriend while seated on a Red Line train.

3. For talking a photo of books just left in the rack at the Brown Line Kimball Station as part of Book Crossing.

4. For taking pictures of the Fullerton Station move while standing safely across the street on a public sidewalk.

And on and on and on.

Of course, none of this overzealousness has prevented the CTA from threatening customer lives by letting folks jam up on escalators.

Nor did it prompt the CTA to take security seriously enough to have prevented the Dr. Chaos incident.

But thank goodness we're safe from photographers, huh?

Kevin, you suggested Saturday, Dec 12 as a good day to meet up on the Holiday Train. I can tell you from my experiences the last few years - that is the most crowded day of the train. And the least enjoyable - at least until the last trip from Kimball to Midway. Then it starts to lighten up and you have room to look around and talk. Before that it is wall to wall families.

Thanks for the tip Frequent Rider. Does anyone else have a suggestion? Some week day after work? Like Thursday, Dec. 11 on the Brown and Orange Lines?

Let's wait until the schedule is posted to the CTA website. The last run on a weekday may be as cramped with cranky commuters as the weekend train is with toddlers. If I have to choose, I'll take the toddlers. It's been my experience that toddlers are so overwhelmed by the sensory overload of the Santa Train that they are, for the most part, silent. Cranky commuters, not so much.


JAKE S's exuberance set me to puzzling: why not enjoy the holiday cheer first and then ride the Santa Train on Saturday, Dec 13? This strategy may allow all of Tattlerville to avoid the toddlers and be immune to whatever discomforts there may be when we finally board the train. Stability may be an issue, but there are those lovely candy cane grab bars....

I'm with Martha, plus I can bring the nieces along since they'd like the "Santa Train" experience.


SO, are we still going for the 13th?

Yes, we are definitely still on for Saturday's Tattler meet-up.

Here's the schedule:


I'm inclined to board the first Orange Line train going north into town at Roosevelt at 1:23 pm. We'll all meet in the first car, take photos, sing and be little CTA elves.

Then we exit at Belmont (the Orange turns into a Brown on Saturday) and find a watering hole to continue the meetup.

What do you all think?

The alternative is to get the later afternoon Brown Line train south at Belmont at 3:31 and then take it into the Loop. Get off somewhere in the Loop and party downtown for a bit. I'm open to either plan.

Ideas? Thoughts?

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