The CTA starts test runs for its 5000-series prototype rail cars on the Purple Line through Evanston this morning.

The CTA starts test runs for its 5000-series prototype rail cars on the Purple Line through Evanston this morning.

The 10 prototype rail cars are being tested to determine how they perform under normal operating conditions.

Its the second set of tests for the cars on the Purple Line. An earlier series of tests under winter-weather conditions was conducted in January and February.

The agency started planning to add a new series of cars to its fleet in 2002 and began in-service testing of the first of the new cars on its various rail lines about a year ago after a year of preliminary test runs without passengers on board.

The new models don’t look strikingly different on the outside, but offer a variety of new features. Each car will have seven networked security cameras, an event recorder system similar to a black box on an airplane and sensitive door sensors that will detect obstructions better than CTA’s current rail fleet.

The new aisle-facing seating configuration is designed to accommodate more customers per car and allow more room for customers carrying backpacks, packages, luggage, strollers and bikes. The configuration provides 38 seats and space for two wheelchair positions, and added support poles and hand straps in the center of the car for standing customers.

Other features include an LED station indicator map with lights that move in conjunction with the train’s location, electronic destination signs both inside and outside of the rail car and regenerative braking that returns braking energy to the third rail for reuse to help power following trains and on-board electrical systems.

Assuming the new cars, manufactured by Bombadier Transportation, pass the tests, the CTA plans to order a total of 406 of them for delivery over the next few years.

Related links

The 5000-series: A new generation of CTA ‘L’ car (TransitChicago.com)

5000-series Cars (Chicago-L.org)

5000 series (Chicago ‘L’) (Wikipedia)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. CTA Prototype Trains

    I have mixed feelings about the new cars: I enjoy sitting in a window seat on the older trains and watching the world go by. Now, with inward-facing bench seating, you're forced to either stare at the riders across from you or stare at your feet, or you HAVE to bring a book or magazine to immerse yourself in, which you didn't before. (I think using laptops or smart phones on the CTA is still a pretty bad idea security-wise, as evidenced by last week's laptop-snatching at South Boulevard and the previous week's Fullerton L  phone snatching which pushed a woman down the stairs to her death.) If the train is crowded, you're pretty much assured of someone's crotch or butt in your face and I feel I get leaned on more often in the new trains than in the old–the church pew style seating in the older trains just gave you the back of someone's head to stare at and kept standees off you, which seems less invasive. I like that the bench seats allow me to leave without asking the aisle rider next to me to stand up. I like the lack of side panels at one side of the doorways–older trains functioned as cattle chutes with people lounging in the doors, preventing others from entering or exiting, so this is an improvement. I like the bus-style electronic signs announcing the next stop. The many hang-straps and poles are great for those who stand.  And the open space in the new trains will be more easily used by wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles and luggage-toting travelers.

  2. The LED maps are cool but if

    The LED maps are cool but if you ride one of these trains bring sunglasses! They are very brightly lit compared to the older cars. Also not a fan of all the cameras.

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