Lately, the North Side is a pain in the Red Line

November 05, 2012|By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz | RedEye

Here we go again. The derailment Sunday of a Red Line train in Edgewater was the second incident to occur on tracks there in about a month, causing a section of the Red Line to be shut down for hours and once again testing the patience of North Side riders.

No injuries were reported in Sunday's incident, which happened between the Granville and Loyola stops.

In October, a train traveling between the Granville and Loyola stops ended up with its front wheels on the northbound track and its back wheels on the southbound track.

The incident initlaly was deemed a derailment, but then officials blamed it on a switching problem. There were no injuries in that incident either, but part of the Red Line was shut down as the CTA made repairs to the track.

CTA president Forrest Claypool dismissed Sunday's derailment as "minor" at an unrelated press event Monday in Chatham and pointed out that service has been restored.

Still, these incidents add to the annoyances that North Side riders have had to endure in the past few months. Headaches include six-week station closures for repairs, slow zones and platform overhauls

The CTA is rehabbing the Berwyn, Lawrence and Jarvis stops, the last of seven North Side Red Line stations it has closed this year. The last station, Jarvis in Rogers Park, is expected to reopen in December.

And although the stations have been much improved aesthetically, they are still not where they could be. Six of the seven stations are still not accessible for riders with disabilities.

At the CTA's board meeting last month, a North Side resident asked the CTA to add an elevator to Uptown's Argyle station, which is not an accessible stop.

The CTA said the elevator would cost $10 million to $15 million, and the platforms are too narrow.

Adding to frustration, slow zones plague about 16 percent of the northern Red Line. Slow zone work was added to the Red Line project after it had already started. At an event in the summer, Claypool said North Side Red Line riders would see slow zone relief in February.

North Side Brown Line riders don't have it much better. The CTA has been tearing up Brown Line platforms to replace them with weather-proofed wood to rectify its mistake when it overhauled stations a few years ago.

Recently, Diversey riders have had their stations bypassed for repairs. Monday morning, to get to this station, some riders took the train from Belmont to Fullerton and then boarded a northbound Brown Line to Diversey, where construction is expected to last until Nov. 18.

Time is not on your side, North Side.

A wash

An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that the electronic maps on the new aisle-facing rail cars leave a space for the Washington Red Line, which has been shuttered since in 2006 as part of the troubled Block 37 retail development project. Still, the station will remain closed indefinitely, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told GP. "The fact the holes were punched [in the map] doesn't mean there is any plan to reopen them. It just means there's a station there, so we punched a hole."

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Dempster Purple Line

This stop should be called the "Dumpster" station. Large sections of paint have peeled off the walls and in the stairwells, which feature rusty steps. The platforms are hold-your-breath narrow, and as an added bonus, the CTA is working on a section of track near the station so there are slow zones. Before you rush to use this station, slow down and consider taking the Metra

Next up: Jefferson Park Blue Line

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