CTA Moves Ahead on Plan to Rebuild Rail Cars on Brown, Orange Lines

September 10, 2014

Overhaul of CTA’s 3200-series cars, built more than 20 years ago, will improve reliability and comfort for customers

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board today approved the biggest component of a plan to completely overhaul the agency’s second-oldest rail cars, the 3200-series, as part of the CTA’s major modernization of its rail and bus fleets launched in 2012.

The Board unanimously approved a $92 million contract for the materials necessary to substantially renovate all 257 of the 3200-series rail cars, originally purchased in 1992-1993. The overhauls will extend the life of the rail cars and improve their performance, efficiency and reliability by replacing or rebuilding many of the rail cars’ major components, including:

  • Propulsion and power systems
  • Doors and door motors
  • Wheel trucks, axles and motors
  • Replacement of fluorescent lighting with new LED lighting

Last year, the CTA approved contracts for other components of the 3200-series overhaul work, including:

  • Replacing all existing heating and cooling units
  • Replacing all auxiliary power supply units
  • Installing new, color LED destination signs, similar to those found on the CTA’s newest generation of rail cars, the 5000-series, which are on the Pink, Green, Yellow, Red and Purple lines. 

In total, the CTA will invest more than $166 million in the 3200-series fleet overhaul, which will improve reliability and lower repair and maintenance costs for the cars that currently run on the Brown and Orange lines. The CTA will perform the overhaul work in-house.

“These improvements to the 3200-series cars, combined with the new 5000-series cars we continue to introduce, will provide the CTA one of the most reliable rail fleets in years,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “When overhaul work is complete in 2017, our new and overhauled rail cars will comprise 70 percent of the CTA’s rail car fleet, providing our customers with an improved rail ride.”

Since 2011, the CTA has made a huge investment in modernizing Chicago’s transit system, including new and rehabbed trains and buses. In addition to the new 5000-series rail cars and the 3200-series overhauls, the CTA is also planning for the next generation of rail cars, the 7000-series. The CTA will seek bids from manufacturers for those cars this year.

The CTA has also purchased more than 400 new buses and is performing frame-up restorations of 1,030 buses, providing to CTA customers a nearly entirely new bus fleet.

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