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Chicago3rd Dec 11, 2007 9:45 PM

I am trying to figure out about the downstaters...

They are saying they want a bailout from Chicago because they cannot fund their roads? Isn't that a little hypocritical of them?

We need a Constitutional Amendment making it against the law for Chicago to bail the rest of the state out.

VivaLFuego Dec 11, 2007 10:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3221367)
I am trying to figure out about the downstaters...

They are saying they want a bailout from Chicago because they cannot fund their roads? Isn't that a little hypocritical of them?

We need a Constitutional Amendment making it against the law for Chicago to bail the rest of the state out.

They need for Chicago to pay a huge license fee to have a municipally-owned casino. The fee, plus the tax revenue from that (as well as incremental tax revenue from expansion of existing riverboat casinos and installation of slot machines at racetracks), would pay for capital construction throughout the state. Or so the theory goes. So yeah, they need us, and need us bad, for that license fee and tax revenue. Let them come crawling and groveling. It's about time they stop getting away with portraying Chicago as the leech to their constituents.

Attrill Dec 12, 2007 1:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3221538)
They need for Chicago to pay a huge license fee to have a municipally-owned casino. The fee, plus the tax revenue from that (as well as incremental tax revenue from expansion of existing riverboat casinos and installation of slot machines at racetracks), would pay for capital construction throughout the state. Or so the theory goes. So yeah, they need us, and need us bad, for that license fee and tax revenue. Let them come crawling and groveling. It's about time they stop getting away with portraying Chicago as the leech to their constituents.

I'm not a big fan of the casino proposal to bail out the CTA/RTA. Here's a good article spelling out how the money brought in from a $1 billion casino in Chicago would likely be distributed. "Huge license fee" is right - $500 million huge! Maybe some would come back to the city, but not likely. Chicago is estimated to get $150 million, most of it going to the CTA.

ardecila Dec 12, 2007 4:34 AM

Has the CTA planned for a Blue Line overhaul like the Dan Ryan Branch got recently? Obviously, the ties are being replaced to remove slow zones, but station repainting and maintenance would go a long way also. Every time I drive past Cumberland or Jefferson Park on the Kennedy, I shudder at their sorry states of rust and peeling paint. The Red Line stations, with identical designs, now look gorgeous (which I never thought possible).

I don't know if the signalling or electrical supply systems need the rebuild that the Red Line facilities got - hopefully not, since it means less costs for the CTA.

The CTA describes a State of Good Repair as costing something like $6 billion. How can this cost be so high when the Green, Pink, and Orange lines were overhauled/built recently and the Brown Line is about to enter that category? I can't imagine the Yellow Line has huge capital needs with only two recently-rebuilt stations.

That leaves only the Forest Park-O'Hare Blue Line and the North Side Main Line with major capital needs. Of course, these are also the two busiest lines and the only lines with no downtime, but it shouldn't cost more than $2-3 billion total.

VivaLFuego Dec 12, 2007 5:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3222270)
Has the CTA planned for a Blue Line overhaul like the Dan Ryan Branch got recently? Obviously, the ties are being replaced to remove slow zones, but station repainting and maintenance would go a long way also. Every time I drive past Cumberland or Jefferson Park on the Kennedy, I shudder at their sorry states of rust and peeling paint. The Red Line stations, with identical designs, now look gorgeous (which I never thought possible).

I don't know if the signalling or electrical supply systems need the rebuild that the Red Line facilities got - hopefully not, since it means less costs for the CTA.

The CTA describes a State of Good Repair as costing something like $6 billion. How can this cost be so high when the Green, Pink, and Orange lines were overhauled/built recently and the Brown Line is about to enter that category? I can't imagine the Yellow Line has huge capital needs with only two recently-rebuilt stations.

That leaves only the Forest Park-O'Hare Blue Line and the North Side Main Line with major capital needs. Of course, these are also the two busiest lines and the only lines with no downtime, but it shouldn't cost more than $2-3 billion total.

CTA has been repainting the Kennedy stations piecemeal. Some is being done in-house (Harlem was done recently, I think). Others, like Cumberland, are being bid out. I assume Rosemont will be too (really just a question of scale and scope).

It's amusing that no one ever talks about it anymore, but Aldridge is in the middle of a $180 million contract to replace the entire signal system on the Blue Line from Forest Park to Jefferson Park, as these were the last part of the system that had the simple block signaling as opposed to automatic train control (ATC)***. This contract started around early 2006 and is running until 2009, and has meant a ton of single-track operation late nights. I think some maintenance/upgrades to the power system are also part of the contract. The portion from Jeff Park to O'hare is, I guess, still in decent shape being under 25 years old.

The "state of good repair" estimate also includes the bus system, which is pretty substantial. CTA has 8 bus garages, about 4 of which are majorly inadequate for a modern transit operation (e.g. North Park and Forest Glen are a primarily outdoor "garages", Archer still has streetcar tracks running around, etc.). Obviously these facility costs are very large. "state of good repair" also assumes that every bus in the fleet is 12 years old or less.

But in terms of rail facilities projects that are NOT currently on the table in the planning or execution state (Subway ties, Loop signals), let's see:

North Main (red) - needs new viaducts and station renovations
Evanston (purple) - needs new viaducts, track components, and station renovations
Brown - Needs new track components (ties/rail/etc). Little publicized fact that the current Brown Line project isn't exactly a rehab: it's a federal New Start for new transit service (thank Kruesi for this, ditto the 54/Cermak branch which was even more of a stretch as a New Start). The project is to build new stations to increase capacity, i.e. provide new service. CTA was able to include structural work around the stations as part of the project, as well as "modifications" to the power and signaling systems to accommodate the "new service", but there wasn't a way to include track renewal. So yeah, the track needs to be replaced; particularly the ties, and I think in some locations it might still have the original running rail from 1907. There are already slow zones popping up on Brown that don't have anything to do with the station construction.
Loop - Needs new track components
Forest Park - Station renovations
Southside Green Line - Will need some track and structural work. Alot of this wasn't actually fully replaced in the 92-94 rehab and is beginning to show its age again.
Yards/Maintenance - Most of the facilities themselves are in decent shape, but most could use equipment modernization. For example I know there is a push to get more steel wheel truing/balancing machines, which majorly help in 1) providing a smooth ride and 2) less wear and tear on both tracks and railcar suspension components). Also, some yards need new/improved carwashes for railcar exterior washes. I'm sure there are others, but I'm not too familiar with the shop operations.

This is all assuming that renovating the downtown loop and subway stations will be the city/CDOT's responsibility.

Also, the rail fleet is very old by FTA standards, and even moreso considering how much time the cars spend outside in the cold and exposed to the expressway salt mist. The 406 Bombardier cars on order will replace the 2200s and 2400s by 2013. That still leaves 600 2600-series cars that were delivered in the early 80s, meaning 600 cars going on 30 years of age and in need of replacement for "state of good repair". That many railcars alone would be pushing $1bil.

Attrill Dec 12, 2007 7:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3222331)
Also, the rail fleet is very old by FTA standards, and even moreso considering how much time the cars spend outside in the cold and exposed to the expressway salt mist. The 406 Bombardier cars on order will replace the 2200s and 2400s by 2013. That still leaves 600 2600-series cars that were delivered in the early 80s, meaning 600 cars going on 30 years of age and in need of replacement for "state of good repair". That many railcars alone would be pushing $1bil.

Have you seen anything about delivery dates for the first Bombadier cars? I remember hearing something a year or two ago about the Blue getting them in a few years, but nothing else for awhile. An d can they run with other cars? I thought they were going to be AC instead of DC.

VivaLFuego Dec 12, 2007 3:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 3222524)
Have you seen anything about delivery dates for the first Bombadier cars? I remember hearing something a year or two ago about the Blue getting them in a few years, but nothing else for awhile. An d can they run with other cars? I thought they were going to be AC instead of DC.

I think the prototype trainset will be delivered late '08 or early '09, and undergo testing throughout the system for 9-12 months, at which point full delivery starts (so, by late '09'). The first order would be complete by around the end of 2012 or early 2013, I think, but I'm not 100% sure.

The new cars have AC propulsion and on-board inverters to convert the DC power from the 3rd rail to AC power for the motors. Thus the new cars cannot be coupled with any of the old cars, but can run on the same power infrastructure (there will likely be some hiccups with the power and signal system that need to be determined and fixed during the prototype testing...the AC magnetic field may interfere with the signals in some locations, and it may be necessary to adjust the voltage on the 3rd rail).

aaron38 Dec 12, 2007 4:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3222799)
The new cars have AC propulsion and on-board inverters to convert the DC power from the 3rd rail to AC power for the motors. Thus the new cars cannot be coupled with any of the old cars, but can run on the same power infrastructure (there will likely be some hiccups with the power and signal system that need to be determined and fixed during the prototype testing...the AC magnetic field may interfere with the signals in some locations, and it may be necessary to adjust the voltage on the 3rd rail).

I'm an electrical engineer and this all seems very strange. From a black box perspective the cars should be externally identical, or at least thats how the requirements should have been written. Do the cars share power? Power converters should be able to handle that as well, and they should operate over a wide enough voltage range that the 3rd rail shouldn't need adjusting.
And I also can't imagine that the AC drives would have more EMI than the DC brush motors. AC drives are pretty quiet by comparison. It's surprising that signal equipment that works fine as a train goes by arcing on the 3rd rail would have interference from the AC motor or inverter.

I searched a bit for more information but didn't find anything usefull. Is there more info available, I'd love to read up on it.

Via Chicago Dec 12, 2007 4:39 PM

Transit Gridlock May Put Federal Funding At Risk
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...ck=1&cset=true

Quote:

Metra Projects Could Lose Up To $1.5 billion
The legislative deadlock over state funding for mass transit may jeopardize federal dollars for major commuter rail improvements in the Chicago region, two Illinois congressmen and the head of Metra warned Tuesday.

Illinois could lose up to $1.5 billion for the proposed expansion of Metra service, including the suburb-to-suburb STAR line; SouthEast Service to South Cook and Will Counties; and expansion of the Union Pacific Northwest and West lines into McHenry and DuPage Counties, U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk and Melissa Bean said...

DHamp Dec 12, 2007 5:49 PM

^Is it wrong for me to secretly hope Metra loses that cash for the STAR line? It's not that STAR is a completely stupid idea. I could see it coming in handy. But I really think 1.5 bil could be better spent in Chicago for new CTA lines that would get much more use. Of course, if Metra were to lose that federal cash, it doesn't by any stretch mean CTA would get it: it would just be lost. But it's a nice thing to ponder.

j korzeniowski Dec 12, 2007 6:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 3223130)
^Is it wrong for me to secretly hope Metra loses that cash for the STAR line? It's not that STAR is a completely stupid idea. I could see it coming in handy. But I really think 1.5 bil could be better spent in Chicago for new CTA lines that would get much more use. Of course, if Metra were to lose that federal cash, it doesn't by any stretch mean CTA would get it: it would just be lost. But it's a nice thing to ponder.

well, i believe viva' said earlier that once metra got dragged into all of this (and it already has), that might wake up suburban lawmakers. so, let's hope something gets done.

the ineptness of this state's legislature is mind-boggling.

VivaLFuego Dec 12, 2007 6:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3222970)
I'm an electrical engineer and this all seems very strange. From a black box perspective the cars should be externally identical, or at least thats how the requirements should have been written. Do the cars share power? Power converters should be able to handle that as well, and they should operate over a wide enough voltage range that the 3rd rail shouldn't need adjusting.
And I also can't imagine that the AC drives would have more EMI than the DC brush motors. AC drives are pretty quiet by comparison. It's surprising that signal equipment that works fine as a train goes by arcing on the 3rd rail would have interference from the AC motor or inverter.

I searched a bit for more information but didn't find anything usefull. Is there more info available, I'd love to read up on it.

Well, I'm not an electrical engineer. But,

not being able to be married to pairs of older cars I would assume is due to:

1) different control systems
2) different accel/decel characteristics. The DC motors basically just operate with different transformers to convert the power for different accelleration (hence the jerkiness: there's only 4 forward settings to control speed)

I don't think its the motors themselves that cause EMI issues, but rather the transistors/thyristers (not sure which the new cars use) that transmit power to the wheels. Additionally there might be some issues in the regenerative braking, which essentially converts the motors to generators (flipping the magnetic field) whenever the train is slowing down. None of this "advanced" (since the 1960s) technology has been operated on the CTA system to this point, in fact at one point there was a trial in retrofitting some of the older DC cars with choppers (to smooth out accell and decel) and regenerative braking, and there were all kinds of interference issues. Again, don't know the specifics of what was causing what, though...

aaron38 Dec 12, 2007 6:52 PM

^^At this point I really don't care if Metra doesn't get Star Line funding. I don't think anyone's going to ride it. Nobody out in the exurbs is going to take a train from suburb to suburb. Hell, I'm probably in the top 1% of suburbanites supporting mass transit, and even I don't take Metra from Palatine to Arlington Heights or Park Ridge.
If I could take a train from downtown Palatine to downtown Naperville I MIGHT do that twice a year. But the star line doesn't go through downtown Naperville, or Glen Ellyn, or any other of the walkable communities.

90% of Star Line ridership is going to be suburbanites going to and from O'Hare, and for that there's a better solution.
Forget Metra, extend the Blue line out I-90 to Schaumburg/Barrington. That way there's still a western link to O'Hare, but the line doesn't end at O'Hare.

There are so many times I would have killed to be able to take the El from Schaumburg to Bucktown. I drive to Cumberland, and it sucks.
Right now, extending the Blue Line is the only thing that makes any sense.

OhioGuy Dec 13, 2007 2:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3222331)
Brown - Needs new track components (ties/rail/etc). Little publicized fact that the current Brown Line project isn't exactly a rehab: it's a federal New Start for new transit service (thank Kruesi for this, ditto the 54/Cermak branch which was even more of a stretch as a New Start). The project is to build new stations to increase capacity, i.e. provide new service. CTA was able to include structural work around the stations as part of the project, as well as "modifications" to the power and signaling systems to accommodate the "new service", but there wasn't a way to include track renewal. So yeah, the track needs to be replaced; particularly the ties, and I think in some locations it might still have the original running rail from 1907. There are already slow zones popping up on Brown that don't have anything to do with the station construction.

I wondered about this. Since moving to Chicago last winter, I'd been frustrated with how slowly trains were moving along the tracks near the Addison station. I was assuming everything would speed up once that station opened from reconstruction last week. But unfortunately loop bound trains are still slowing down several blocks in advance of the station. I guess the quality of that portion of track is too poor to maintain a good speed. :(

ArteVandelay Dec 13, 2007 2:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3222331)
I think some maintenance/upgrades to the power system are also part of the contract.

This project also includes a new traction power cables and breakers in the entire Dearborn and State St Subway. No substation work or contact rail replacement though. Many of the old knife switches were original to the subways construction - very scary to throw.

ardecila Dec 13, 2007 2:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3223259)
^^At this point I really don't care if Metra doesn't get Star Line funding. I don't think anyone's going to ride it. Nobody out in the exurbs is going to take a train from suburb to suburb.

You're focusing far too much on the STAR Line (which is doubtful even if Metra DOES have the money because of CN's freight plans for the EJ&E). I'm far more worried about the SouthEast Service and UP-West/UP-Northwest expansion. These projects have the capacity to bring large ridership gains for Metra, and to improve trips for many current riders and secure their ridership.

Plus, SouthEast Service means a more vibrant and busy South Loop, since LaSalle Street will have two lines running into it instead of just one.

VivaLFuego Dec 13, 2007 5:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3224190)
I wondered about this. Since moving to Chicago last winter, I'd been frustrated with how slowly trains were moving along the tracks near the Addison station. I was assuming everything would speed up once that station opened from reconstruction last week. But unfortunately loop bound trains are still slowing down several blocks in advance of the station. I guess the quality of that portion of track is too poor to maintain a good speed. :(

They do have some slow zones in place due to construction, because they managed to bundle foundation, bent, and flange angle repairs in with the station reconstruction, but to be sure there are also track slow zones, and they will only grow with time. I'm not sure how imminent a disaster on the order of the blue line is, but I hope the brass have something in mind so they dont cut the ribbon on the Brown Line project and have all the 8-car trains crawling at 15mph between gorgeous stations.

DHamp Dec 13, 2007 7:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by j korzeniowski (Post 3223237)
well, i believe viva' said earlier that once metra got dragged into all of this (and it already has), that might wake up suburban lawmakers. so, let's hope something gets done.

I've been saying the same thing to anyone who would listen to me (usually that means just my wife). ;)

This is too often spoken of as a CTA problem -- "bailing out" the CTA. It's really a RTA problem. Reading complaints in local papers, I've noticed that even a lot of Chicagoans think that the City itself is supposed to fund CTA and that Daley and Huberman are pointing fingers downstate to distract from their own short falls. A lot of people are completely uneducated about the matter and that doesn't help the situation one bit.

I kinda wish the RTA employees would stage a one day walk-out on a weekday (not Friday), so that everyone can see that without transit, the economy of this entire state really comes to a complete halt.

headcase Dec 14, 2007 1:58 PM

Oh Boy ....

From CTA Tattler

Quote:

December 14, 2007
There are no winners in a job action

Frankly, I'm speechless. (Or is it wordless on the Internet?)

I got a tip earlier this week that the unions would do their "job action" on Monday. But I didn't post it because I didn't believe it. At least, I didn't WANT to believe it.

I certainly understand the frustration felt by the unions. We feel it too.

"We want to make sure the public is aware of our job action ahead of time. We don't want to hurt the public," said Rick Harris, president of the union local that represents train operators.

OK Rick, we appreciate the notice. But really, do you think this will hurt the state Legislature? Force them to come up with a transit funding solution a week before Christmas?

I don't think so. All this job action will do is piss off riders and cause businesses to lose lots of money.

Nothing good can come out of either outcome.

the urban politician Dec 14, 2007 2:51 PM

My problem with the job action is that it will simply lead to more finger pointing, as opposed to accountability.

I can see Madigan or Blago, the day after the walk off, saying to eachother "see? That's what will happen if you don't support my funding plan".

What really needs to happen is for voters to rip these guys apart in the next election. And I'm still interested in the idea of recalling the Governor. His inability to build consensus makes him so dreadfully incompetent that he simply has to go.


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