Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pretty in Pink Line

The Cermak Blue Line will be rerouted to a new track and then directed above ground and around the Loop in a 180-day trial run to start this summer. This new configuation will be called The Pink Line.

The CTA claims the rerouting will cut wait times, "so that the wait for a train would average 7.5 minutes during peak hours compared with the current 15 minutes," according to the Tribune.

But there are concerns about speedy access to O'Hare and key West Side destinations.

Here's the new route, from the Trib report:
(Sun-Times map graphic)

"Under the rail plan, Cermak branch trains heading to the Loop no longer will turn east at the Eisenhower Expressway and descend to meet the Forest Park branch tracks before heading to the Loop and ultimately to O'Hare.

"Instead, Cermak branch trains will continue north along the "Paulina Connector," a more than century old section of elevated track that is parallel to and just west of Ashland Avenue. In recent years, the CTA used the connector to move equipment between the Green and Blue Lines. The connector has not been used for regularly scheduled trains in decades but recently underwent a renovation so it could again handle daily service.

"At Lake Street, Cermak branch trains would turn east, following the Green Line into the Loop. The trains would travel clockwise around the Loop then return on the Green Line to the Paulina Connector and then south to the Cermak branch tracks. Cermak branch riders who need to get to O'Hare could transfer at the Clark/Lake station, which they will reach about 10 minutes faster than the current route takes to get there."

Interestingly, the CTA's Web site downplayed the big Blue Line rail change and emphasized bus route changes.

The CTA board will decide whether to make the change permanent after the trial run. If the change becomes permanent, the CTA may hold a contest for school kids to name the new train line.

Sun-Times story