Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

North Shore Line

The Skokie Swift was originally a demonstration project that utilized the former high speed North Shore tracks from Howard Street to Dempster in Skokie.  Ironically the first day of service was the same day that the final overhead was dismantled by the scrappers of the rest of the Skokie Valley route.  CTA made minor changes in the overhead as well as putting in a spring switch at the Dempster station to permit a stub where the original single car St. Louis cars could head back.  Originally a high speed line for the CTA, like everything else it also ran into a period of neglect with slower speeds.  On the positive side the original schedule was buried within an hour with more cars being needed.   Originally single cars were used including - for a while - the original four high speed St. Louis cars.  As soon as it was possible the original 5000 series were redone and renumbered to 51-54 with the same bow trolleys that permitted transition from third rail to overhead without the need of doing it by hand.  In the 1970's the SOAC (State of the art) cars came for a short demonstration.  Because these were 70 foot cars they could only run on the Swift and only use the number one track at Howard (the western most).  The platforms had to be modified to allow them to drop down when the cars were coming in as they were too wide for the regular CTA platforms.  They were also required to run westbound on the eastbound track until they reached a crossover just east of Asbury (Western Ave. in Chicago).  All though they were very popular they were limited to non-rush hour service (for obvious reasons) and CTA never ordered any cars that included the carpeting and other features.  The St. Louis single cars were the last active PCC cars on the system due to their overhead requirements.  They were finally replaced by the more conventional 3200 series that were delivered with pantographs specifically for the Swift.  At last, air conditioning!  They made their last runs in the mid 1990's ending once and for all PCC service on the CTA.   Car 24 was repainted in the two tone gray scheme with a bright orange stripe (1 near Gross Point Road, 3 heading east towards Kostner). (2) A more conventional westbound Swift near Kostner with car 24 way in the background.  Paul Revere was a former 5000 series repainted for the bi-centennial as it approaches Kostner (4).  The cut in Evanston shows a conventional car now in third rail territory at Asbury (5).  It's followed by the SOAC at the same location (6).  The SOAC heads west after crossing over at Asbury (7).  The SOAC is passing the Skokie Shops (8).  SOAC crossing the Sanitary Canal near Evanston (9).  The southbound SOAC approaches Gross Point Road in Skokie on that cold February day (10).

 

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Revised 21 December, 2011 23:28

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