CTA Makes Enhancements to 5000-Series Rail Cars

January 23, 2008

CTA Riders to Benefit from Increased Security, Capacity, Better Communication Systems and Real-time Diagnostics to Improve Reliability

The Chicago Transit Board approved a change to the current contract with Bombardier for the manufacture and purchase of 406 new rail cars. The CTA plans to incorporate technology enhancements to improve some of the previously planned features of the rail cars.


  • Adding wireless connectivity to the electronic systems will mean:

    • Train operators will be able to view live video from any railcar when the passenger intercom unit is activated. This will ensure operators are better able to immediately provide information to first responders.
    • In the future, suitably equipped emergency vehicles could also access rail car video through the wireless connection.
    • Diagnostic information will be available in real-time to shop personnel, enabling them to quickly identify problems and develop repair strategies. This new diagnostic system will help reduce breakdowns and ensure that when problems occur, technical troubleshooting will begin in real-time, reducing the impact on customers.


  • Adding cellular modems to railcars will allow the CTA's Control Center to communicate directly with customers in real-time via audio and text messages using speakers and six visual displays in each car.


  • The seat fabric will be upgraded to an anti-stain/anti-microbial fabric newly available in the industry.


  • Finally, as part of the final design phase, the CTA is asking the manufacturer to perform an industrial design assessment to determine what additional enhancements could be made to improve the functionality and appearance of the rail cars without affecting the production and delivery schedule. Features such as seat design, flat panel information screens, windscreen and lighting design will all be evaluated and additional costs estimated for consideration.

The adjustments made to the existing $577 million contract total $26.6 million, bringing the grand total for the base order of 206 rail cars and option 1 for 200 additional rail cars to $603.6 million.

"It's important to leverage newly available technology to bolster emergency communications and improve the overall function of these rail cars for our customers," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "An investment of this magnitude should include the most up-to-date capabilities available in the industry. It takes years to plan for the manufacture and purchase of new rail cars and we want to use the final design phase to incorporate the most current enhancements."

The rail cars will replace older rail cars, some more than 30 years old, such as the 2200-series Budd cars that were purchased in 1969-70 and operate on the Blue and Pink Lines, as well as the 2400-series Boeing-Vertol cars purchased in 1976-78 that serve the Green and Purple Lines. The CTA's last purchase of new rail cars was in the 1990s when 3200-series cars were purchased for the opening of the Orange Line, and to replace older cars on the Brown and Yellow Lines.

"CTA remains dedicated to providing the best service, equipment and facilities possible to our customers with the resources available," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "Today's action will allow us to continue to stay current with the industry standard and provide the best product for our dollar."

The delivery of 10 prototype rail cars is expected in 2009. Following testing and evaluation of the prototypes, delivery of the base order and option 1 is scheduled to begin in 2010 through 2012.

Through a competitive RFP process, the CTA selected Bombardier Transit Corporation located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania for the contract. Its project history includes the first North American order for high-speed trains from Amtrak; commuter cars for the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad; and, rapid transit cars for the New York City Transit Authority. In the U.S., Bombardier Transportation is also the leader in automated people mover systems which currently operate in 10 airports across the country. Bombardier Inc. is a world-leading manufacturer of transportation solutions, from regional aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, and is headquartered in Canada.

The CTA is using capital funding from the Federal Transit Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation.


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