We’re halfway there

Since May 16, 2021 the Chicago Transit Authority has been rebuilding the North Side Main Line between Wilson and Thorndale. The project involves replacing a century-old embankment with a more modern concrete elevated structure. Since it’s a four-track line, they are able to keep running trains on the line by rebuilding two tracks at a time and keeping the other two in service. For the past two years the two eastern tracks were being rebuilt while the two western tracks were still in use. Last Friday, on July 28, 2023 at 10pm, the two rebuilt eastern tracks on the new structure entered service.

Back in 2021 when they opened the first round of temporary stations, I was one of the first people to board at the temporary stations (according to the station attendant, I was the second person to board at the temporary Bryn Mawr station). I also was the last passenger to board at Berwyn.

Last northbound train at the old Berwyn station
Last northbound train at Berwyn
Temporary southbound platform at Bryn Mawr looking north, immediately after opening
First temporary Bryn Mawr station

Fast forward to last Friday, it was time for the next round of temporary stations. I arrived at Wilson on the second to last northbound train on the western tracks. The train was delayed about 10 minutes due to needing to remove an unruly passenger, but in the end the issue was resolved and everything continued according to plan. I then was able to catch the first train to use the new tracks:

First northbound train on Track 4 for RPM Phase 1B at Wilson
First train to run on the new tracks!

I took that train all the way to Thorndale, catching a picture of the temporary Argyle station through the open door while stopped:

Phase 1B temporary Argyle station from the first northbound train
Argyle station from a northbound train

I then continued up to Thorndale, where I was lucky to catch a southbound train right there. I took that one stop south to Bryn Mawr and got off there, where it still stopped at the old temporary station:

Penultimate southbound train at Phase 1B temporary Bryn Mawr station
Second to last train to operate at the first temporary Bryn Mawr southbound station

I got off there and walked over to the new temporary station (which is southbound-only). I also snapped a picture of the original station (which was temporarily serving as the northbound-only platform):

Entrance at the old Bryn Mawr station at closing time
Original Bryn Mawr station, temporary serving as the northbound-only platform

I continued on to the new temporary station, which will be southbound-only. The construction crew asked me to wait until they could confirm that they had rerouted southbound trains via the new tracks. While waiting, I got a few pictures of the entrance:

Fare mezzanine at Phase 1B Bryn Mawr immediately prior to accepting the first passenger
Fare mezzanine at the second temporary Bryn Mawr station
Phase 1B temporary Bryn Mawr entrance on opening night
Entrance at the second temporary Bryn Mawr station

Eventually they confirmed I could enter, and I was the first passenger to board at that station.

Platform at Bryn Mawr, looking south on Phase 1B opening night
Platform at the second temporary Bryn Mawr station

It turned out one more southbound train was rerouted via the old tracks, but then after that the first southbound train arrived.

First southbound train at Phase 1B temporary Bryn Mawr station
First southbound train (and first train) at the second temporary Bryn Mawr station

I took it one stop to Argyle and got off there:

Northbound track at Phase 1B Argyle temporary station, looking north
Second temporary Argyle station

The current temporary Argyle station is an interesting configuration. For one thing, it’s not actually on Argyle street, it’s a block north between Foster and Winona. Also the track configuration is very interesting. They are building a pocket track north of Argyle for turning trains around before reaching Howard, and so far they have built the two mainline tracks and the pocket track. The platform is actually built on top of one of the mainline tracks, with southbound train stopping on the pocket track. This means southbound trains need to go over a crossover both north and south of the station.

I also snapped some photos of the entrances:

Northern Argyle Phase 1B temporary station entrance on opening night
Northern entrance (on Foster)
Southern Argyle Phase 1B temporary station entrance on opening night
Southern entrance (on Winona)

Even for CTA, these were pretty subdued entrances, but that’s to be expected for a station that will only be around for two years.

After photographing Argyle, I caught the next train home.

Overall I am very excited to see this all come together. The new tracks were much smoother than the original tracks and the structure looks way better. Now over the next two years they are going to do the same work to the two western tracks and also build new stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr. We are reinvesting in our system and bringing it into the 21st century.

I should also mention I got unbelievably lucky with the weather. The whole time I was there, there was lightning all around, but somehow the rain held off until right after I got home.