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CTA Will Get Hundreds Of New Railcars With Popular Forward-Facing Seats

By Mae Rice in News on Mar 9, 2016 7:12PM

Photo via Green Mamba :)--< on Flickr

The CTA’s board just awarded an up to $1.3 billion contract for up to 846 new El railcars to CSR Sifang America. And no, these won’t be the New York-style cars where the seats face center, placing seated passengers face-to-crotch with standing ones.

In the new 7000-series railcars, passengers will find a mix of forward- and aisle-facing seats, a design based on the CTA’s first-ever call for passenger feedback. Cars will also have stainless steel bodies, LED lighting and signs, and AC power propulsion, which will help trains move more quietly.

The city has so far placed a $632 million base order of 400 cars, with an option to order more, a representative for CTA Media Relations told Chicagoist. This first wave of cars is slated to hit the L tracks by 2020, replacing some of the system’s oldest railcars—many of which are more than 30 years old. Prototypes for the cars should be ready by 2019. But in the meantime, the deal will create 170 jobs in Chicago, and prompt CSR to build a multi-million-dollar railcar assembly facility here.

“With this agreement, CTA riders will get state-of-the-art rail cars and Chicago returns to our roots as the place where the next generation of rail cars are built, providing good jobs for our residents. That is a classic win-win for Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement. “Working together we will continue to bring more 21st century manufacturing jobs to Chicago while also building a modern CTA to help power our 21st century economy.”

This deal will be funded by a mix of CTA bonds and Federal Transit Administration funding, a representative for CTA Media Relations said. It’s all part of the city’s transit modernization efforts, which also brought you total 4G coverage in subway tunnels.

CSR is a giant rail-car manufacturer, and has built more than 30,000 rail cars for more than 20 countries. Currently, the CSR team is working on Boston’s rail system.