CTA Yellow Line

From nycsubway.org


CTA 3200 Series 3456 turning back at Dempster on the Yellow Line. Photo by David Pirmann, May 2008.


The CTA Yellow Line, commonly known as the Skokie Swift, is arguably the most unique line of the CTA system. Serving only two stations, the line serves as a high-speed shuttle between Dempster and Howard, where commuters transfer to the Red Line or Purple Line. Thus, the Skokie Swift is also the only CTA line that does not enter the Loop on any occasion. It was also unusual in that it was the only line that used overhead catenary for a portion of the way, but this practice was discontinued in 2004. This line uses two-car trains of 3200-series cars which had been specially fitted with pantographs, but those have since been removed.

We will begin our journey at Dempster (8800N / 5000W). Dempster is mainly a park-and-ride facility, with a large parking lot and easy access to the Edens Expressway making it a favorite for commuters from the near northern suburbs. Tracks are at grade level, with two side platforms. The station house is fairly modern, as it was completely rebuilt in 1993. Similar to other recently-rebuilt stations on the CTA, it features a modest design of red brick, green window frames, and precast concrete accents. Accessing the station from the parking lot requires commuters to cross the tracks at grade, and then proceed into the station itself, pass through fare control, and then proceed up a short ramp to the inbound platform. The outbound platform is an exit-only platform, with steps and a ramp leading directly to the parking lot. Boarding is not permitted on this platform.

Near the existing station house is the former station house of the venerable North Shore Line, now serving as a Greyhound bus station. Looking beyond the station, one can see that the ROW continues well beyond the line's present terminal. Occasionally there is talk of extending the Yellow Line northward to Lake-Cook Road to serve the large Northbrook Court mall, but so far there are no formal proposals. This portion of the Yellow Line also shares its ROW with several sets of high-tension power lines, which dominate the otherwise barren parking lot.

Departing Dempster, we pass through several grade crossings in the primarily residential suburb of Skokie. Most of the surrounding residential development consists of small, 1950's vintage ranch houses and apartment buildings. Skokie is home to much of Chicago's Jewish community, with a plethora of synagogues, active community centers, and of course, many excellent bagel shops and delis.

After a couple miles, the tracks make a turn toward the east, and the surrounding neighborhood becomes more industrial. The trains makes a seamless transition to third rail power around here, without slowing down or the lights even flickering. Only the train operator and the most ardent railfans would be aware of the transition.

Approaching on our left is the massive Skokie Shops complex, the CTA's primary heavy maintenance facility. Trains from throughout the CTA system are brought here for maintenance that can't normally be done at the other facilities at the terminals of various lines, up to and including complete overhauls. Skokie Shops is Chicago's counterpart to New York's Coney Island Complex, and it is not uncommon to see vintage CTA trains out in the surrounding yards.

Soon after passing the Skokie Shops complex, the ROW rises onto an embankment and crosses over a highway and the North Shore Channel. Another bridge takes us over a residential side street before we descend into an open cut surrounded by wooded areas and some residential development. We continue through the open cut for a mile or two, before passing under a set of Metra commuter rail tracks, and then under a CTA loop track in the Howard yard before rising up to grade level and emerging in the yard itself.

We pass through the yard, and pull into the station at Howard (7600N / 1700W). For a full description of Howard, and to continue the tour, transfer to Red or Purple line trains on the CTA North Side Main Line.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 14431

(247k, 1024x699)
Photo by: Doug Grotjahn
Collection of: Joe Testagrose
Location: Dempster

Image 14447

(249k, 1024x690)
Photo by: Joe Testagrose
Location: Niles Center Road

Image 84657

(308k, 1044x701)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: Dempster

Image 143248

(572k, 1200x1200)
Collection of: David Pirmann
Location: Kostner

Image 144843

(305k, 1024x683)
Collection of: David Pirmann
Location: Dempster

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101-115

Photos By Location

Photo locations: East of Dempster, Dempster, Niles Center Road, Asbury, Kostner, Main Street

Page Credits

By David S. Cole

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