October 23, 2002

$354.7 million, Four-Year Rail Car Rehab Complete

The last of 598 rehabbed 'L' cars returned to Chicago today, ready for service and armed with increased service life and protection against Chicago's winter weather. CTA President Frank Kruesi and bus and rail officials welcomed rehabbed cars to the Heavy Maintenance Shop and used the opportunity to summarize CTA's winter preparedness.

The rail car rehabilitation was launched in 1998 to ensure a service life of up to 30 years for each 2600 series railcar. Over the last four years, Alstom Transportation, Inc. of Hornell, New York has continuously rehabbed railcars, delivering them at a rate of 10 to 14 per month, with up to 42 cars off CTA property at any given time. The first rehabbed cars began appearing in service on the Red, Blue and Purple Lines in March 1999.

?The best protection against winter weather is to operate a well maintained bus and rail fleet," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The completion of the 2600 series railcar rehab project represents the progress we have made in bringing our fleet to a state of good repair. As we continue to modernize and upgrade our fleet, our customers will enjoy an increased level of service reliability, not only in the winter months, but also throughout the year."

Representing half of the CTA rail fleet, the rehabbed cars have new propulsion and cab signal systems, new air-conditioning and public address systems, improved lighting, cloth-covered, vandal-resistant seat inserts and hopper (transom) windows for ventilation in case of an air-conditioning failure. With the last delivery just in time for winter, the cars feature electronic controls that operate in a sealed compartment preventing exposure to extreme weather conditions. They also feature windscreens at doorways to reduce drafts and improve passenger safety and comfort. With the delivery of the last of 484 new Nova low-floor buses this year, and the mid life rehabilitation of 474 TMC buses now more than 82 percent complete, the CTA's aggressive replacement and upgrade schedule is well underway.

?Completion of this four-year rail car rehab project means that our customers can count on greater reliability and comfort as they travel on our system," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?Last winter, the rehabbed railcars already returned to the system performed exceptionally well experiencing a more than 300 percent improvement in performance. With the rehab now complete, reliability can only increase."

Officials also outlined other activities undertaken to prepare for the fast approaching winter weather. Rail service preparations include the installation of sleet scrapers and the attachment of snowplow blades on the front of all rail cars. CTA also equips 182 cars with a mechanism that spreads de-icer fluid onto the power rail.

During severe winter snowstorms, the CTA can send out its four diesel-powered snow fighter locomotives that are capable of reaching every part of the system without having to rely on electric power. One end of each locomotive has a powerful snow blower, and at the other is a rotating snow broom. The CTA also has six small diesel-powered snow brooms to clear snow off tracks in rail yards at the end of each line so trains can easily be made ready for service.

The new low-floor buses have more efficient heating systems and are equipped with pre-heaters to ensure quick starts and speed the warming of bus interiors. Pre-heaters provide cost savings for the CTA because the buses don?t have to be kept idling, causing less wear on bus engines and requiring less fuel. Even more new buses will join the CTA bus fleet next year when the CTA begins accepting delivery of 151 new 60-foot, low-floor buses on order from North American Bus Industries (NABI).

To keep its facilities operating efficiently during winter weather, the CTA's Facilities Maintenance Department is restocking sand boxes on rail station platforms and salt storage boxes at bus turnarounds. Plow trucks/spreaders have received preventative maintenance and are ready to keep garages and other facilities functioning. Overhead platform heater fixtures are being tested for service, and snow blowers, shovels, scrapers and other tools used to keep station platforms clear of ice and snow are being inventoried and replaced.

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