Not faster than a speeding bullet but Chicago‘s public transportation has achieved the city’s fastest train service since 1997 according to ChicagoNow.com. Blogger Kevin O’Neil recently wrote about Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) completion of many track modernization projects over the last 4 years. The construction and repairs have resulted in a record low 5.5%, level of slow zones at the end of 2015. Regarding time, the improvements have reduced 2-5 minutes per trip and, obviously, double that for round trips. Furthermore, several more improvement projects are planned for the future.
A slow zone is a designated section of rail that requires a train to travel at a slower speeds, sometimes as slow as 15mph, either for safety or other reasons.
In 2007, 22% of elevated tracks were designated slow zones. Since 2011, CTA projects have been responsible for repairing over 20 miles of track and reducing slow zones.
Recent improvements have been made through several individual projects. During the Ravenswood Connector Rehabilitation, 2 miles of slow zone was done away with on the Brown and Purple express tracks between Armitage and Merchandise Mart. With the Purple Line Improvement Project, CTA reconstituted 4 miles of slow zone between Lawrence and Jarvis with the most extensive project on that segment in 40 years. The Milwaukee Blue Line Track Renewal saw 3 miles of track repaired between Damen and Logan Square. Red Line South Reconstruction fixed nearly 10 miles of track between Roosevelt and 95th St. Finally, the Green Line Ashland improvements saw 1.5 miles of slow zone taken care of between Halsted and Garfield stations.
Good news for any residents of Chicago and there ought to be similar good news on the horizon. More improvement projects are planned, including the Green Line West Track Renewal Project set to begin in April. The construction will be a preventative measure – nipping potential slow zones in the bud on aging rails between Laramie and Harlem/Lake stations.