CTA considers adding a bypass feature to speed service on Purple and other lines

Bailey Williams, Assistant City Editor

The CTA is considering adding a bypass to a busy rail intersection that would expedite service on several lines, including the Purple Line, as early as 2017.

Ridership has increased by 40 percent in the last 5 years in the north Chicago area where the intersection is located, Chicago Transit Authority spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said.

“CTA is always looking to improve service,” Lukidis said in an email. “The current track configuration prevents us from meeting current demand let alone future ridership and demand growth.”

The feature is seeking to address the problem of stops that occur every three to 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. when up to three Red and Purple Line trains have to wait for one Brown Line train to cross an intersection. These stops amount to a CTA-estimated total of 448 hours in a year and occur more frequently during rush hour.

The three lines meet at an intersection, where the Red and Purple line trains sometimes have to wait for signal clearance from crossing Brown line trains.

The CTA gave a number of reasons for needing the bypass, including the outdated layout of the current track arrangement, the mission to better serve current and future riders and the delays caused on Brown, Red and Purple lines.

“During peak periods all three lines are slowed down at (these) rail intersections.” Lukidis said in an email. “The improvements will improve speed and capacity of all three.”

The various features of the project will cost different amounts, Lukidis said. The Red-Purple Bypass Project itself is estimated to cost $320 million, some station work will cost about $1.130 billion and other signal upgrades and track work will cost about $270 million.

The plans for the bypass have not been finalized, Lukidis said. CTA personnel are seeking feedback from the public. The construction details such as the duration and who will be hired for construction are not known yet, because they are still in an environment phase, Lukidis said.

“Ultimately the work that will be done with the Bypass as well as station and track improvements will improve not only speed but capacity for more trains for generations to come,” Lukidis said in an email.

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