Agency holds “retirement ceremony” for hard-working 40-year-old rail cars, known for their “blinker” doors, as part of ongoing modernization of rail fleet
In 1969, the Chicago Cubs led the National League East Division for 155 days before winding up second for the season behind the New York Mets. The first man walked on the moon, and “Sesame Street” debuted.
And, the CTA launched a new line of rail cars—the 2200-series—that were innovative for the time and were built to help a city that was in the middle of dramatically expanding rail transit. The cars featured large windows and an unpainted, horizontal-fluted stainless steel exterior, a break from traditional rail cars at the time, and unique ductwork that distributed air conditioning more uniformly throughout the rail cars.
After more than 40 years as the Chicago Transit Authority’s oldest rail cars, the agency today retired the rail cars built in 1969-1970, today most distinctive for their pivoting ”blinker” entry doors. The cars are being retired as CTA continues to upgrade its rail fleet as part of an aggressive modernization and infrastructure plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool. The CTA continues to add its newest, state-of-the-art rail cars, the 5000 series. More than 290 have been deployed to the Red, Pink and Green Lines with a total of 706 of the new cars expected to be in place by the end of 2015.
To commemorate the millions of rides provided for more than four decades by these rail car workhorses, the CTA today held ceremonial last rides on the Blue Line for the public and media on a train made up of 2200 cars, complete with exterior decals and advertising cards from the period.
Some fun facts about 2200 rail cars:
- Originally, 150 of the 2200s cars built by Budd Company of Philadelphia were purchased in 1969-1970 for use on the Dan Ryan branch of what today is called the Red Line to 95th and the extension of what is today called the Blue Line from Logan Square to Jefferson Park, both rapid-transit projects launched by the City of Chicago in 1967.
- The 2200-series moved permanently to the Blue Line by summer of 1983. The 2200-series cars are somewhat unique in that they have only been assigned to a few routes during their 40-plus year careers; some cars have spent their entire service life on a single route, unusual for "L" cars.
- These cars are the only CTA cars in recent years that featured the "blinker door" configuration, in which the doors to the train open inward into the car rather than slide horizontally.
- They were refurbished in the early 1990s and underwent another overhaul in 2004.
- A motorman's cab that opened up for passenger use when not in service and a plain front end with only inserts of fiberglass for the windows and lights were additional innovations for the period.
- While some 2200-series cars were retired as early as the 1970s, just a few years into their service lives, due to accidents or other mishaps, 144 of the 150 cars built remained in service into the 21st century. Retirement of the cars did not begin in earnest until 2010.
- The old rail cars will be sold for salvage. Two of the rail cars will be placed in the Illinois Railway Museum.