Red Ahead: Red & Purple Modernization Program
Red and Purple Modernization

Rebuilding vital infrastructure for Chicago’s future

Video showing Red-Purple Bypass from ground level and concepts for potential redevelopment
Artist's rendering showing Red-Purple Bypass (over Sheffield, right) potential redevelopment concepts (view southeast on Clark St.)

What's RPM?

We’re undertaking the largest capital improvement project in CTA history: the Red and Purple Modernization Program (RPM). This major initiative will completely rebuild the nearly century old North Red Line from Belmont to Howard and the Purple Line from Belmont to Linden in Wilmette. As we rebuild, much needed capacity will be added in this growing residential corridor to accommodate current and future riders, and to deliver faster and smoother rides with less crowding and more frequent service.

This massive, multi-stage project is scheduled to be completed in phases, which allows us to make the greatest number of improvements while minimizing impacts on riders and the surrounding communities.

RPM Phase One

Project Scope

CTA’s busiest rail line—the Red Line—is nearing 100 years old, is at the end of its useful life, and has reached its capacity. RPM Phase One will completely rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and all the tracks and support structures for more than a mile adjacent to the stations.

The stations will become fully ADA accessible for the first time and include wider platforms, better lighting and modern amenities. The project will also construct a bypass just north of Belmont station for northbound Brown Line trains to modernize the 100-year-old Clark junction where Red, Purple and Brown Line trains currently intersect.

Why it’s needed

RPM will bring significant improvements to modernize the century-old corridor and allow us to serve customers in the area for the next 60 to 80 years. The Red Line improvements will modernize a transit corridor that is nearly 100 years old and can no longer handle additional trains to meet demand, including a 40 percent jump in rush hour ridership over the last five years.

Project Benefits
  • Faster, smoother rides with new track, bridges, and viaducts in the Red-Purple Bypass and Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization areas, as well as signal upgrades along the entire Chicago Red-Purple corridor, allows for better through-put while also offering a smoother, quieter ride.
  • Less crowding and more frequent service with wider, longer station platforms in the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr section, upgraded electrical and signal capacity, and the elimination of bottlenecks at an outdated rail intersection, CTA can run more frequent train service during rush hour. This will allow CTA to expand service to accommodate up to 7,200 additional customers per hour (30% more than today) in the most constrained period -- up to 15 trains an hour -- reducing passenger wait times and alleviating overcrowding to meet growing demand.
  • Modern, comfortable, accessible stations in the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr area with elevators, wider platforms, and vastly improved amenities, including accessibility at 4 stations in an over 1 mile stretch where no stations are currently accessible.
  • Thousands of good-paying jobs, and the ability to leverage the City’s local hiring and DBE authorities to promote opportunities for residents.
  • Connecting Neighborhoods – RPM Phase One will eliminate pillars in the roadway create more connected communities, as well as link transit-dependent communities with better access to jobs ; 20 percent of residents near project are below poverty level, 37 percent are minority, and 48 percent use transit as primary mode of commute .


Phase One overview:

Red-Purple Modernization Summary(.pdf) (.pdf en español)



YouTube Video: CTA Has a Plan: Improving Red, Purple & Brown Line Service
Video: Red Purple Bypass Street Level Animation
YouTube Video: Red-Purple Bypass Track Level Animation


Learn more

About RPMWhat's new?RPM Phase One & Transit-TIF
Lawrence to Bryn Mawr ModernizationRed-Purple Bypass Projectfaq
Project documentsTransit-Oriented Development Plan



What Others Are Saying

"Adding capacity is a particularly powerful argument in favor of the flyover; the Red Line is the backbone of the city’s public transportation system. Over the last four years, rush-hour ridership in the corridor north of Belmont has jumped 40 percent, the CTA says. If you’ve ever ridden during rush hour, you understand the plight of a packed sardine … we urge the CTA to move forward with these ambitious plans, though not without doing everything possible to make affected homeowners and businesses whole."
Chicago Sun-Times

“It is common for morning rush-hour passengers at Belmont and Fullerton stations to have to wait until the second or third train to find a place to stand. Such delays, in addition to routine system delays and service disruptions experienced by this corridor, only serve to dissuade ridership.”
DePaul University, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development

“The stretch of track where those lines converge is over 100 years old and plagued by delays. This rebuild will allow this stretch of track to meet future capacity needs for decades to come, result in less wait time at stations, and improve the overall reliability … [and] move people to and from work when they need to and encourage more people to take advantage of transit.”
Illinois Chamber of Commerce

“Improvements in service at the Red Line stations will allow more people to take advantage of mass transit, resulting in more customers in the surrounding business districts. Increase in property values and potential new transit oriented development will bring more economic activity to the Edgewater neighborhood.”
Edgewater Chamber of Commerce (.pdf)

“The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is a strong advocate for investing in our existing infrastructure even as we plan for our region’s future needs. In addition, MPC supports the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s objective of doubling transit ridership in the Chicago region by 2040. The Red and Purple Modernization will play an essential role in helping to achieve both of those objectives, by offering upgrades to a decades-old but well-used line that has the potential to attract tens of thousands of new daily riders.”
Metropolitan Planning Council

“Capacity on the Red, Brown and Purple lines on the North Side is one of the biggest challenges the CTA faces over the next several years, and the agency is beginning to take steps to address it … Without more investment, crowding on North Side trains is only going to get worse and some people may choose to drive if they begin to view it as more convenient.”
Active Transportation Alliance

“Uptown relies heavily on the North Red Line and we strongly believe its modernization will directly benefit our community.”
Uptown United (.pdf)



  • Active Transportation Alliance 
  • Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Edgewater Development Corporation
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center
  • Uptown United
  • World Business Chicago

Stay Informed!

If you would like to be added to the RPM contact list for meeting notices and future updates about the RPM Program, please contact:

Chicago Transit Authority
Strategic Planning, 10th Floor
Attn: RPM Program
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661-1465


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