CTA Prepares to Overhaul its 3200-Series Rail Cars in 2015

August 14, 2013

Agency to purchase parts including new color LED destination signs

The Chicago Transit Board today approved the award of two contracts that will be part of an overhaul of CTA’s 3200-series rail cars, which are about 20 years old and are in service on the Brown and Orange Lines. The mid-life overhaul is part of an aggressive modernization and infrastructure plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool that will extend the life of the rail cars and improve their performance, efficiency and reliability. 

The overhaul of the 3200s will replace many of the cars’ major operating systems, including installation of new air conditioning systems and the rebuilding of the propulsion system, passenger door motors and the wheel and axle assemblies. The 3200-series was manufactured by Morrison-Knudsen in 1992 and 1993.

Following separate competitive bid processes, the Board approved a contract valued at $8.2 million to Ellcon National Inc. for the purchase of new auxiliary power systems that will be more efficient and reliable for the remaining years of service of the 3200-series rail cars.

A second contract valued at $4.1 million was awarded to Axion Technologies for the purchase of color light-emitting diode (LED) signs, which will replace the roller-curtain signs on the sides and ends of each rail car that are used to display the color of a rail line and its respective destination. The LED destination displays are brighter, provider larger text and are easier for customers to read.

“We have made significant progress on our plan to modernize the CTA’s rail system and fleet to better serve our customers. The CTA also continues to add new rail cars to its fleet, the 5000 series and recently retired our oldest cars, which were more than 40 years old. And now we’re moving forward with modernizing the existing fleet and extending the life of these cars by an additional 10 years,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “All of these initiatives provide our customers with a safer, more reliable ride each day.”

Although work to rebuild all 256 3200-series rail cars is not expected to begin until 2015, the CTA has started the process of procuring parts and operating systems that have long-lead times and require successful testing of pre-production samples. Personnel at the CTA’s Skokie Heavy Maintenance Facility will perform the overhaul work over the course of two-years. The total estimated cost of the overhaul is $166 million.

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