Fast Tracks

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This year, we’re launching FastTracks, a comprehensive program of track repairs and maintenance designed to provide you with a faster commute and smoother 'L' ride.

Work performed as part of the FastTracks program will reduce up to six minutes off a typical round-trip commute on the Red, Blue, Brown and Green lines, by repairing and upgrading rail, rail ties and electrical power in multiple locations throughout the system.

This program is part of recent, unprecedented investments toward modernizing and improving our rail and bus service. In the last several years, we've completed, begun or announced more than $8 billion in modernization projects, ranging from new and completely rebuilt rail stations to new buses and railcars.

On this page:

Overview of work to be done

FastTracks will address numerous “slow zones” where trains travel lower than optimal speed—fixing current slow zones and helping prevent others from occurring. To achieve this, crews will replace worn rail, rail ties and ballast, which are important to maintain the gauge of the track and support the trains’ weight, which will make rides smoother, more comfortable and more reliable.

Also, electrical power improvements will be made along the Blue Line O’Hare branch, which when complete will allow us to run additional trains during high-ridership times—like the morning rush period on weekdays—to help address crowded trains and reduce the amount of time you have to wait on platforms.

Which rail line branches will receive improvements?

  • Green Line - South Side main line and branches (from near 18th south to and along both the Cottage Grove and Ashland branches)
  • Green and Pink lines on Lake Street 'L' (between Clinton and Ashland)
  • Blue Line - O’Hare branch (electrical power improvements)
  • Red Line subway (downtown State Street Subway)
  • Blue Line subway (downtown Dearborn Subway)
  • Blue Line - Forest Park Branch (Clinton to Forest Park)
  • Brown Line - Ravenswood Branch (Western to Kimball)

See below for additional details on ongoing and upcoming work in this program.

Project timeline

Work will be performed in phases and will begin in early 2018 and continue through 2021. 

How will this affect my commute?

We'll be working closely with communities to communicate any potential impacts throughout the project and work will be completed outside of weekday peak-ridership hours to minimize the impact to customers.

Project funding

This $179 million investment is being funded through a small increase in fees charged to app-based ride-hailing companies operating in Chicago. The fee, proposed by the Mayor and approved by City Council in November, is the first of its kind in the country to directly support investment in public transportation.

Ongoing/upcoming work

Green & Pink lines

Work to improve the tracks on these lines is starting with work on the Lake Street 'L' (Green & Pink lines) and South Side Elevated (Green Line) segments of the route to improve the quality of the ride for Green Line riders, reduce maintenance and extend the life of the infrastructure that supports the route's service, and eliminate slow zones to speed up service.

Work will include replacement of parts of the line's running rails (the rails that trains' wheels run on), track ties (the wooden beams to which the rails are affixed), third rail components and more.

Green Line South Side Elevated work

Starting late May 2019, work will be done in areas between 17th Junction (north of the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT station).

During some work events, free shuttle bus service will replace train service through the area to allow for work to be done safely and efficiently over weekends and/or during daytime hours.

Shuttles will operate in addition to local alternatives such as the Red Line and the #3 King Drive#4 Cottage Grove (owl) and #29 State buses, all of which run near the South Side areas where work will be done.

Green/Pink lines Lake Street Elevated work

Starting in Spring 2019, work will occur on the Lake Street 'L' between the junction where it meets the Loop west toward Ogden (near the Ashland station).

During some work events, free shuttle bus service will replace train service through the area to allow for work to be done safely and efficiently over weekends and/or during daytime hours.

Pink Line service may also operate over its normal route between 54th/Cermak and Polk, only, then diverted onto the Blue Line for a stop at Racine to allow for same-platform transfers to Blue Line service into/from downtown.

Nearby local alternatives also exist, such as the Blue Line's Forest Park branch, #20 Madison (owl) and #65 Grand buses.

Visit the Green Line and Pink Line pages to see current/upcoming alerts, sign up for CTA Updates to get weekly work summaries sent to you by e-mail (or a text notification when we post them online) or visit our Alerts page for the latest on all lines.

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