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Red Line commuters welcome faster, smoother ride

Updated: November 23, 2013 6:13AM

Angela Thames enjoyed the faster, smoother service on the reopened Red Line South Monday morning — even if she wasn’t crazy about the seating arrangements on the CTA’s new 5000-series cars.

“There’s more people standing over you, and everybody don’t believe in showers,” said Thames, 56, an office manager commuting downtown from the 95th Street station.

Thames was one of thousands who poured into the 95th Street station on the first commute day, following the five-month shut down of the Red Line between 95th and Cermak-Chinatown to complete a $425 million overhaul.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel — along with CTA President Forrest Claypool and Board Chairman Terry Peterson — was there to shake hands with commuters and to thank them for their patience.

Some commuters even gave the mayor a hug.

“You’ll enjoy this ride more,” Emanuel told one rider. “Thanks for you patience.”

Before the construction, almost half of the Red Line South’s tracks carried trains that could travel only 15-35 mph instead of 55 mph maximum that a straight track can handle. The new track is expected to cut the commute from 95th to downtown by 10 minutes and by 20 minutes round-trip, the CTA says.

The overhaul was the first complete track replacement since the south branch opened more than 40 years ago.

Before hopping on a train himself, Emanuel told reporters the five-month shutdown was a “very bold move.”

“As I said to a number of commuters, 55 mph beats 15 mph anytime,” Emanuel said.

Claypool described the overhaul as “the newest, most modern railroad in the United States here on the South Side of Chicago.”

“We hope people enjoy it,” he said. “We’re grateful to them for sticking with us during these five months.”


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