CTA ‘L' Repairs on Fast-Forward

Time-lapse video offers new look at workers’ efficiency

You've never seen CTA employees work this fast. In less than five minutes, a decades-old curve along the Loop's elevated tracks is entirely repaired and rebuilt.

On the weekend of Oct 24-26, the CTA replaced about 1,000 feet of track and train signals at Wabash Avenue and Lake Street. The entire weekend was caught on video, and when things are sped up, the 54 work hours can be viewed in about five minutes.

A minute-and-a-half edited version is available on the Chicago Tribune web site.  

The repairs involved more than just replacing old rails with new ones. The new tracks now have been aligned to prevent undue exertion on trains and hopefully make for a smoother ride.

While the video is entertaining to watch, there is actually a real purpose for the fast-forward images. The idea is to identify which methods work and which don't. This information on efficiency can be used in future projects.

"The elevated is a hard place to work [because] there are a number of constraints," Christopher Bushell, Chicago Transit Authority director of power and way, told the Chicago Tribune. "It is extremely precise work that could not be more complex."

The recording was not meant to keep an eye on individual workers' productivity. However, viewers can't help but notice there are moments when one or more employees appear to be standing still and not working.

Bushell noted that "accountability is a big consideration," and CTA President Ron Huberman said the agency will evaluate the workers' productiveness.

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