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While viewing a favorite old spot in Chicago I noticed extra rails. Within the running rails are two more rails. They are in sections. The ends are ramped as if for sliding electrical shoes. There is no wear on the rail so havnt been used in quite a while. The righthand rail is connected by heavy duty stranded cable. The left hand rail has no visible electrical connections. Neither rail is resting on insulators. Does anyone have ideas as to the purpose? 





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  • CTA
Last edited by swav
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Back in the day the CTA used to haul standard size hopper cars of coal to a generating plant using a couple of steeple cab engines.  In order to get the standard full size cars past the passenger platforms the CTA installed gauntlet track to the generating plant.  I used to have photos of those old steeple cabs.  I think they closed the generating plant and took out the gauntlet track some years ago.  If you count the rails you would have four running rails and one third rail.    Odd-d

Got a reply from the CTA historical webmaster about the extra rails.


I had to do some checking on this one, but I have the answer: the rails on the incline to Evergreen Portal on the Blue Line are indeed guard rails, just like anywhere else. The reason they're farther out from the running rails (and closer to each other, and to the centerline) is because this short section is ballasted.
The guard rails are typically put as close to the running rails as reasonably possible, and on an open-deck or direct-fixation closed deck elevated strucutre, they can be placed pretty close to the running rails. But where the track system sits on ballast, the guard rails have to be moved farther away from the running rails. Why? Because of the tamping machines that are used to maintain the roadbed, which have to, in essance, grab a hold of the rails and ties and lift them up to tamp the ballast underneath. The spacing has to accommodate the size of the tamper heads while still meeting spec for the guard rails' purpose. If they're too close to the running rails then the tamper head can't get in.
If you look at other ballasted sections, like the outer portion of the Blue Line in the Kennedy or the Orange Line, where there are guard rails, you'll see that they're spaced like they are on the Evergreen incline, farther out from the running rails.
Graham Garfield
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