Last week, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) introduced prototypes of the agency's new 5000-series rail cars and announced that the cars will begin testing in passenger service starting this week.
These new additions to the rail fleet offer a number of customer amenities in addition to more safety features and technologies that will enhance operations and maintenance and provide a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Through a competitive RFP process, CTA selected Bombardier Transportation to manufacture the cars.
The CTA is using capital funding from the Federal Transit Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation in addition to revenue bonds to purchase the rail cars. The total cost for the 406 rail cars is $603.6 million.
The 5000-series prototypes, which have been undergoing testing by CTA engineers and representatives from the manufacturer for the last several months, will begin service on the Red Line and then will be tested on all eight rail lines through at least the end of the year. This in-service testing is the next step in the agency’s evaluation of the 10 rail car prototypes to determine how they perform when operating in the conditions that CTA's rail fleet is subject to throughout the year. The cars must successfully complete testing before the CTA will finalize the order of the remaining 396 rail cars.
The prototype rail cars are similar in exterior appearance to the CTA's 3200-series cars that operate on the Orange and Brown lines. The new rail cars will replace CTA's oldest rail cars, between 32 and 41 years old, such as the 2200-series Budd cars that were purchased in 1969-70 and currently run on the Blue Line, as well as the 2400-series Boeing-Vertol cars purchased in 1976-78 currently operating on the Green and Purple lines.
The rail cars offer a variety of new features and technologies to benefit CTA customers. Among them are networked security cameras; glow-in-the-dark safety signs and floor strips; an event recorder system; a new aisle-facing seating configuration that accommodates more customers per car; regenerative braking technology; and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.