CTA trains are chugging along at up to 55 m.p.h. on long segments of the rail lines for the first time in years thanks to slow-zone repairs that will be mostly completed by year's end, transit officials said.
The improvements have come just in time for holiday travelers using the Blue Line to get to O'Hare International Airport. Blue Line slow zones, restricting trains in some locations to 6 m.p.h., had been the worst among the CTA's eight rail lines.
Slow zones overall have not been eliminated, but they are greatly reduced since some CTA funds were redirected more than a year ago to step up replacement of deteriorated ties, worn rails and antiquated signals.
As of November, trains were forced to operate at reduced speeds on only 7 percent of CTA tracks due to slow zones, down from 22 percent in October 2007. Over that 13-month period, more than 183,000 feet of slow zones have been removed from the system, CTA President Ron Huberman said.
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