On Monday, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) began in-service testing of 5000-series prototype railcars on its Orange Line. The railcars are currently running on the Blue Line and had previously been tested on the Green and Red lines.
The 10 prototype railcars are being tested to determine how they perform when operating in the conditions that CTA's rail fleet is subjected to throughout the year. The prototypes must successfully complete testing on all eight rail lines before CTA will authorize the delivery of the remaining 396 rail cars.
Each car has seven networked security cameras, an event recorder system similar to a black box on an airplane and sensitive door sensors that will detect obstructions better than CTA's current rail fleet.
Meanwhile, the new aisle-facing seating configuration is designed to accommodate more customers per car and allow more room for customers carrying backpacks, packages, luggage, strollers and bikes. The configuration provides 38 seats and space for two wheelchair positions and added support poles and hand straps in the center of the car for standing customers.
Other amenities include: an LED station indicator map with lights that move in conjunction with the train's location and electronic destination signs — widened to increase the size of the text that improves readability — both inside and outside of the railcar; regenerative braking that returns braking energy to the third rail for reuse to help power other trains and on-board electrical systems; and an alternating current (AC) propulsion system that converts the direct current (DC) energy in the third rail to AC for the traction motors.