Ongoing Blue Line Slow Zone Elimination Work to Affect Service to O’Hare

June 20, 2008


Bus shuttles to replace service between O'Hare and Rosemont

As part of the Chicago Transit Authority's aggressive plan to eliminate slow zones on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line, today President Ron Huberman announced upcoming work that will affect service between Rosemont and O'Hare for three weeks in July.

Crews will replace deteriorated rail and ties, tie plates and spikes that, when completed, will allow CTA to lift slow zone restrictions currently in effect for trains traveling the more than four miles between O'Hare and Rosemont.

Beginning at 3 a.m. Tuesday, July 8, bus shuttle service will replace rail service between the O'Hare and Rosemont stations. Normal service will resume Monday, July 28.

"Because of track conditions, trains between Rosemont and O'Hare are currently inching along in some areas at 15 miles per hour," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "Through this intensive track replacement effort, customers traveling between O'Hare and Rosemont will notice a significant improvement in train speeds when work on this section is completed at the end of July."

"The Blue Line rail service to O'Hare is a key component to our airport system and to the thousands of travelers and airport employees who use it every day," said Chicago Aviation Commissioner Richard L. Rodriguez. "We're working closely with the CTA to ensure customers can easily get to and from the airport during this construction period."

While work is underway, Blue Line trains will make all stops to Rosemont station where customers will transfer to bus shuttles to complete their trips to O'Hare. The bus shuttles will run 24 hours a day, the same hours of operation as the Blue Line.

Customers at the Rosemont station will exit trains to transfer to CTA buses at the bus terminal en route to O'Hare station. At O'Hare station customers will board and alight buses at the O'Hare Bus Shuttle Center located in the airport's lower level near the flight Arrivals area (O'Hare terminals 1, 2 and 3). The bus shuttle trip between the Rosemont and O'Hare station takes approximately 10 minutes. CTA personnel will be on hand at both locations to direct customers to awaiting buses.

"We appreciate the patience of customers as we diligently work to improve travel times on our rail system," President Huberman added. "We have made significant progress in eliminating slow zones and customers are experiencing faster commutes."

For safety reasons, trains operating under slow zones are restricted to speeds ranging from 15 mph to 35 mph -- significantly less than the 55 mph speed trains should operate at between stations. Speed restrictions have been implemented since last summer following track inspections that found that the wooden rail ties were in poor condition and in need of replacement.

CTA staff worked closely with the contractor to determine the best approach in restoring rail service as quickly as possible between O'Hare and Rosemont. Because the area is both subway and ballasted track, and there is limited access for equipment due to overpasses and bridges, it would be difficult to complete repairs over a weekend as has been done elsewhere on the line. As a result, a continuous work approach was deemed the most effective way of getting all the work completed.

The work on the O'Hare branch is divided into three phases:

  • Last year, CTA eliminated 22,500 track feet of slow zones between Jefferson Park and Harlem.
  • The next phase from Harlem to O'Hare began in the spring and will be completed this summer. This is the biggest piece in terms of feet of slow zones, and will remove more than 56,800 feet of track when completed.
  • The final phase to eliminate just over 32,000 track feet of slow zones between Jefferson Park and Addison will be completed by the end of 2008.

To date, systemwide slow zones have been reduced to 13.5 percent from a high of 22.5 percent in October 2007.

Average weekday ridership between the Rosemont and O'Hare Blue Line stations is 18,642.


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