CTA CONVERTING SKOKIE SWIFT TO THIRD RAIL POWER

July 28, 2004
7/28/04

Project Designed to Make Yellow Line More Efficient, Reliable

The Chicago Transit Authority is converting the overhead power source on the west end of the Yellow Line to the more efficient third rail system already in use on the remainder of the rail system. Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen joined CTA officials to highlight the conversion, which is already underway. Third rail power will replace overhead catenary wires that power trains between the Skokie station and Crawford. The Yellow Line already runs on third rail power between Crawford and CTA's Red Line Howard station.

"This is another important investment that the CTA is making to improve its infrastructure so that customers can enjoy a more pleasant, convenient, reliable commute," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Third rail power will improve reliability on the Yellow Line, preventing possible service disruptions such as those that result when overhead wires freeze up and break in the winter."

?This enhancement to the system will greatly benefit Skokie commuters," said Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. ?We look forward to the increased reliability of the service."

The Yellow Line is a non-stop shuttle that operates from Dempster Street in Skokie to the CTA's Red Line Howard Street station in Chicago. To minimize service disruptions, the majority of the conversion work is performed on weekends when the Line is not in operation.

The project involves the installation of 23,000 feet of contact or third rail and underground duct banks and electric cable at grade crossings. The cables carry contact rail power under streets allowing vehicles to cross the tracks without touching the contact rail.

Removal of the overhead catenary wire will take place once new infrastructure is in place and thorough testing of physical, electrical and safety elements has been completed. CTA expects to complete the project before the end of the year.

Third rail installation began on June 12. Rail has been installed on the northbound tracks from Crawford to Dempster and is currently being installed on the southbound side of the line from Dempster to Crawford.

CTA is working with the Village of Skokie and its police and fire departments to educate them on the safety precautions required on a third rail powered system. CTA is also developing a 'safety Tips? brochure for distribution.

The 23,000 feet of contact rail going in along the Skokie Swift is a new aluminum composite used in Europe but just making its way into the United States transit industry. The composite material is easier to handle, install and replace than the heavier contact rails currently used elsewhere on the system. The new rail weighs approximately 450 lbs. per section compared to the older aluminum clad and solid steel rails, which weigh from 1,400 to 1,900 pounds. CTA has all three types of contact rail on its system.

The Yellow Line between Dempster and Crawford is currently the only location on the CTA rail system not powered by third rail power. In addition to improving reliability and comfort for CTA customers, the conversion gives the CTA the flexibility to use standard railcars interchangeably on the Yellow Line and the rest of the rail system.

The Federal Transit Administration, Regional Transportation Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation are funding the $6.3 million project.

As a precursor to third rail installation, in January 2004, CTA completed thereplacement of the warning systems at eight Yellow Line grade crossings in Skokie and two Purple Line grade crossings in Evanston. The work included the installation of new gates, flashers, bells, and backup batteries.

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