CTA’s new Red-Purple Bypass went into service Friday, Nov. 19, on the Brown Line

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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CTA’s new red-purple bypass went into service on Friday, Nov. 19.
Federal Transit Administration

The Chicago Transit Authority last week announced the new Red-Purple Bypass, the first major improvement for CTA customers as part of historic $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One project, went into service on the Brown Line on Friday, November 19, 2021.

The bypass is the first new section of track added to the CTA system in 28 years. RPM is the largest reconstruction project in CTA history, modernizing and replacing 100-year-old rail structures and stations to improve rail service reliability, comfort and convenience for CTA customers.

The new Red-Purple Bypass is an important part of CTA’s work to improve Red Line service throughout the region. The bypass eliminates a 114-year-old rail junction that had become a chokepoint for service across the CTA rail system and will allow CTA to add rail service during busy travel periods and reduce overcrowding and delays.

The bypass is the first major piece of work completed during Phase One of RPM, a transformational project that is rebuilding century-old rail structure and CTA stations, improving the reliability, comfort and convenience of CTA service for decades to come.

The new rail bypass north of Belmont station is the first major customer improvement completed as part of CTA’s $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) project; Bypass is the first new, permanent main line track added to CTA since Orange Line opened in 1993


“I am pleased to be able to deliver on our promise of more reliable service to CTA rail customers,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are continuing to work hard on modernizing the Red Line through remaining RPM work now in progress, as well as continuing to pursuing funding for the new Red Line Extension Project.”

RPM is the latest project to modernize the Red Line, CTA’s busiest line that serves more than 30 percent of all rail customers.

Benefits for customers, local community

The new Red-Purple Bypass carries Kimball-bound (northbound) Brown Line trains over north-and southbound Red and Purple Line tracks just north of Belmont station. It replaces the antiquated “Clark Junction” that was built in 1907 to connect what was then the Ravenswood Line (today called the Brown Line) to the Red and Purple lines, which began rail service in 1900.

Benefits of the bypass include allowing CTA to add trains during the busiest commute periods, and eliminating capacity restrictions on CTA that were caused by the antiquated rail junction. The bypass will also provide quicker, more reliable service because Kimball-bound trains and Red and Purple trains will no longer have to stop and wait for each other to cross the junction.

The new project has benefits for the community, including noise walls that reduce noise at the street level; tulip-design columns, a wave pattern on the noise walls to soften the look of the structure, and lighting and street pavers to improve the street-level aesthetic.

For more information, you can read the entire press release here.

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Categories: News, Passenger, Rail News, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Track Construction, Track Structure
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