Trains to Lose One Southbound Track at Belmont and Fullerton Stations; Eight-Car Brown Line Trains to Ease Impact
Today CTA officials presented plans for the next phase of three-track operation at the Belmont and Fullerton stations. Beginning Sunday, March 30, 2008 southbound trains will be limited to one southbound track at the Belmont and Fullerton stations due to construction for the Brown Line capacity expansion project. To help ease the impact, the CTA will begin operating eight-car trains on the Brown Line during morning and evening rush hours. Currently, Brown Line trains consist of six cars. The introduction of eight-car service will occur nearly 18 months earlier than originally planned.
In order to safely provide eight-car trains, Paulina and Wellington stations will close for renovation on March 30. Currently, these stations can only berth six-car trains. While the stations are under construction, Brown Line trains will bypass both stations.
Also on March 30, the CTA will reopen the Southport station and open a temporary station at Diversey. Both stations had been closed for construction and will be able to accommodate eight-car trains by March 30. Using a temporary station at Diversey will make it possible to reopen for service nearly three months earlier than originally planned. Work to install elevators and complete the stationhouse at Diversey will continue throughout the spring.
"This is a major milestone in the Brown Line project. We know that reducing inbound service to one track will mean fewer trains can travel through the corridor during rush periods and that creates challenges for our riders. We explored every option we could to help ease the pain. Adding two extra cars to Brown Line trains will allow us to transport more riders per train and maintain Brown Line capacity at current levels," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "But we still will have fewer inbound trains during rush periods, so riders are still advised to allow extra travel time, consider using bus service or adjust their departure time. Our advice to 'Leave early, leave late or alternate' still applies."
Huberman said that during peak morning rush period there will be four fewer Red Line trains traveling inbound from Howard to Downtown (from 19 to 15) but that additional southbound trains will be staged south of Fullerton for use as needed. Four fewer Brown Line trains (16 to 12) will operate during the peak, however, due to the longer trains, capacity on the Brown Line will be the same as it is today. Purple Line Express service levels will remain the same (4 trains). South Side Red Line service will also remain the same.
Fullerton Track Configuration
Belmont Track Configuration
"Longer trains will certainly help, but we will still be limited in the number of trains we will be able to operate on one track, so customers should plan accordingly, particularly during the morning commute where the peak travel time is more concentrated," said Huberman. "We will again supplement service on bus routes that are nearby alternatives to rail service."
There are more than 40 bus routes that could be used as alternate transportation, including nine lakefront express routes that provide direct service to and from the Loop during rush periods. CTA will increase bus service on several routes: #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick, #22 Clark, #134 Stockton/LaSalle Express, #135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express, #147 Outer Drive Express, #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express and the #156 LaSalle. The CTA also recommends that riders consider other nearby bus routes or other CTA rail lines such as the Blue Line.
To the extent possible, the CTA recommends that riders plan to leave earlier or later, and allow extra travel time.
"The Brown Line project is entering the home stretch. I want to thank our customers and the elected officials who have been so cooperative and patient throughout this project. We know this complex construction project has been disruptive, but the work has been necessary to increase capacity to meet growing demand," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "With eight newly renovated, accessible stations and more on the way and the early introduction of eight-car service, our riders and neighbors are now seeing tangible results. The Brown Line will be a valuable amenity for these communities for many years to come."
Southbound three-track operation is scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 30, 2008 and continue until summer 2009. The $530 million project remains on schedule and on budget.
The first phase of three-track operation began Monday, April 2, 2007. Red, Brown and Purple Express trains shared one northbound track at Fullerton and Belmont while the platforms were rebuilt and tracks were reconfigured to allow room for the installation of elevators at both stations. Construction crews completed northbound track work at Fullerton on January 25 and the work at Belmont will be completed in early March. At that point, normal northbound operations will resume.
On an average weekday just over 108,000 rides are provided on the north branch of the Red Line, 66,000 on the Brown Line when traffic at the Belmont and Fullerton stations are added in, and 10,000 rides provided by the Purple Express service, not including Evanston.
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